In a new interview, Pope Francis has revealed his opinion of 10 ways to find peace and happiness. These principles are clearly based on a general understanding of human nature, rather than any religious interpretation, so he offers it to the whole world Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Here they are:
1. Live and let live.
What is to be gained by trying to force others to live as you would have them live? Some might say, “their soul” if this is a religious point of view. Others might claim that it’s important to prevent self harm. I think “let live” implies you should intervene if someone’s life is on the line, but anything else requires a deeper evaluation. Inherent in this first principle is a respect for the dignity of the human person in his or her free will. This is also one of the first principles of John Paul II’s book “Love and Responsibility.” A person’s rational nature and interior life, which gives rise to a sense of freedom in choosing one’s own path, are foundations for the human person’s value and dignity. “Live and let live” seems to be a clear way of respecting this dignity.
2. Give oneself to others.
“If one gets tired, one runs the risk of being egoistic. And stagnant water is the first to be corrupted.” Here is the basic gospel message. From the Church document Gaudium et Spes: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word (Jesus) does the mystery of man take on light… By suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation, He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.”
3. Move quietly and peaceful.
Like ”a running river.” The Pope said the elderly have the wisdom to move with “kindness and humility” and have the “calmness of life.”
4. Make time for playing with children, leisure, reading and enjoying art.
“Consumerism has led to the anxiety of losing this culture,” he said. This sentiment echoes the findings from recent research in Positive Psychology. Martin Seligman proposes that five principles are necessary for happiness. Engaging in leisurely and enjoyable activity, accomplishing goals and enjoying healthy relationships, especially with family, are all part of his prescription.
5. Share Sundays with family.
Again a call to leisure, and family. Even when Pope Francis criticized the Mafia during his visit to Southern Italy, he praised them for not working on Sunday.
6. Help young people find employment.
The Pope suggested that youth could be taught skilled work, which would allow them the “dignity of bringing home the bacon.” This would help reduce the levels of depression in the young, and ultimately, the number of suicides as well. Makes sense.
7. Look after nature.
He talked about the need to use nature intelligently, to master it but not destroy it. We have to think about nature holistically in our pursuit of happiness. While it is good to use nature for its resources, we need to think about how we ultimately hurt ourselves when we use it with a short-sighted mentality.
8. Rapidly forget the negative.
This seems to be wisdom found naturally among the elderly. For some anyway, they seem to have learned that it’s simply not worth holding onto negative experiences.
9. Respect those who think differently.
This is related to principles 1 and 3. It’s important to engage in dialogue with those who think differently and respect them first as human persons rather than make a fundamental judgment against them because of how they think.
10. Actively seek peace.
Peace doesn’t just come accidentally. This is stressed in Seligman’s work on positive psychology. While some people are naturally disposed towards “flourishing,” as Seligman terms it, well-being can be learned. One must actively engage in the process to attain it.
What are your thoughts? Would you add anything to the Pope’s list?