Jesus told his followers how to find happiness. It was not through having every wish, every need and want fulfilled. It was instead a state of mind brought about by experience and wisdom.
Become Poor in Spirit!
Those who are poor in spirit are happy. This is not a weak, unattractive, poorness of character. It is the realization of the limits of self-dependence. The recognition that humankind, although it can have moments of heroism, is essentially feeble because we get sick, we die, we make mistakes, we can’t always see the consequences of our actions, we can be greedy and selfish. It is the recognition of the need for God: for moral authority, purpose in life, hope for the future, and constancy. This also helps us to recognize the need for one another, and to therefore value one another. Those who are poor in spirit in a sense live in the kingdom of Heaven. They recognize authority in their lives and duty to their fellowmen and this brings about happiness.
It seems a contradiction to say that those who mourn are happy. However, when we are purposely aware of the sad side of life, or when we experience it ourselves (suffering, sickness, death, greed, inhumanity), we are able to develop compassion which enables us to comfort and help others and in turn, others are able to comfort and help us when we need it. This helps us to be happy.
Be Willing to be a Servant!
We all know how easy it is to think of ourselves first, but it is also evident that serving ourselves does not bring happiness. Those who are “meek” are those who are willing to take on the form of a servant and serve others. When people think of others first, there is no self-pity, suspicion, and defensiveness. Meekness creates a happy environment.
Be Filled and Satisfied With God’s Work!
To hunger and thirst after righteousness is getting satisfaction from doing things that are just and good. Instead of striving for our own satisfaction and filling ourselves with ourselves, we are fed by the satisfaction that comes from doing God’s work, whatever it may be. Hungering and thirsting for this kind of satisfaction keeps us from being consumed by materialism and covetousness and brings contentment and happiness.
Mercy is undeserved grace. It is a forgiving spirit that doesn’t store up criticism and resentment. It is being understanding and tolerant of differences and having real pity for those who behave badly. It is well-known that nursing grudges and keeping a record of evils done to us can make us sick. If we can learn to be merciful, to not return evil for evil but instead return good, we will be happy.
Spring-Clean Your Heart!
Life can be so busy and difficult sometimes that we get burdened down by all the cares and find it hard to see or feel God in our lives. This is when we need to take time to clear out our minds, to get rid of the bad thoughts, the doubts and fears and fill it with thoughts that lift us up and make us able to see God at work in our lives, in creation, in history and in the world today. The concept of a church community gives us the help we need to purify our minds through good friendships and regular reminders of what God has to say. Being able to see God at work brings happiness.
Be a Peacemaker!
There is always clamour and dissonance going on in the world around us. We hear it every day on the news and we all long to hear instead words of peace. We can’t do much about wars and commotion in other countries, but we can try to bring peace with us wherever we go. We can love our enemies, doing good to them and praying for them, we can preach the peace of the gospel message to our neighbours, we can be silent or make a “soft answer” instead of arguing. And by this we can be known to be a child of God and find happiness.
Be Willing to Stand Up for What is Right!
It is hard to stand up and be different. It’s nicer to feel that we belong and everyone likes us. But we all know stories from history of people who stood up against a crowd for what they thought was right, and whatever happened to them, at least they did not have the haunting regrets of others who did not have the same courage. We don’t necessarily want the world’s approval. Happiness comes from knowing that we have done the right thing.
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