How Can I Be Happy?
Br Ernesto Simroth, LC
Nowadays, this is one of the most searched questions in the world. As generations keep passing, the search for happiness seems to have a more valuable price and more important place in our lives. Maybe this happens simply because, just as a prize becomes more valuable the more competition there is for it, little by little it’s becoming more difficult to obtain it and keep it.
What is real happiness? Where can I find it? How can I be really happy? What does it mean to be happy? These questions may sound familiar and… very personal. Surprisingly, one general answer to resolve these questions exists.
Happiness is usually defined by some – in a very vague way – as pleasure, living to the fullest, a life with no problems, getting that from which more we cannot desire, etc. But the reality is that there is much more to it.
Allow me to propose a more accurate definition of happiness: the perfect realization of the spiritual nature in the subject. Spiritual?! Yes, spiritual. Let me explain myself. Everyone by nature desires happiness as his or her final subjective end (in fact, the final cause of an act of the will always tends towards and is measured by the happiness of the subject).
But here we find a problem (which, if you think about it in relation to your own life, a couple of remembrances should be easy to pull out): if a person looks for happiness, it is because of the natural tendency of his or her will to seek satisfaction. But every time we seek satisfaction and we fulfill this search, that happiness does not last forever; it is contingent and seems so limited! Sometimes up to the point of thinking that such a happy moment one day will finish… that is why, we never stop wanting to be happy.
Now, why do I say that happiness consists on man’s spiritual fulfillment? Because a human person will never be satisfied with what is inferior to him; in other words, with anything taken from the material world. Even the most beautiful sunset, the greatest piece of art or the most majestic landscape, stay short in value compared to one spiritual thought of the person.
If a person really wants to be happy, he or she should seek for what is above, greater than us: God. This is the reason why we cannot be totally and everlastingly happy on earth, because only in Heaven we will be able to possess God by letting Him to possess us. This is call, the beatific vision.
So… does that mean that we cannot be happy on earth? No. We can also be happy on earth, but in an imperfect way. Then, you may ask yourself how we can be happy on earth even if it’s just a partial happiness, and the answer is simple: through morality and reason. In other words, by responding correctly to the moral value found within us every time we take a decision or perform an action (i. e., forming a morally good conscience and following it always).
That is why Mother Teresa once said:
To be happy with God on earth presupposes certain things: to love the way he loves; to help the way he helps; to give the way he gives; to save the way he saves; to remain in his presence twenty four hours a day; to touch him in the poor and in those who suffer. (From the book In My Own Words)
Br Ernesto studies philosophy at Our Lady of Thornwood in Thornwood, NY. Read his story.
Photo credit: Spencer Finnley on Flickr.