Have you ever wondered what it means to be Happy? Have you ever asked yourself what Happiness is? Is your definition of Happiness really what it should be?
Happiness has been defined as, “Feeling or showing pleasure, contentment, or joy” or “Feeling satisfied that something is right or had been done right“.
I have often defined happiness as the feeling I get whenever I am with my family, whenever I’m doing something I like or love doing, or whenever I get what I have asked for.
Famous people–those who are often quoted, states that, “Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
Another quotation on happiness and of being happy said that, “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
Some would even go as far as to say: ” People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is, the only place they ever needed to search was within.”
Another quotation I have heard goes as: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
There are a lot of those so-called “Famous” whose views on happiness are often interpreted, re-used and quoted. But sometimes, if not mostly, the most famous and the most factual of all the definitions of happiness is more-often-than-not forgotten.
The closes thing, if not the most rightful thing on how to describe happiness and of what it means to be happy would be said in 8 sentences, some people would view these eight as somewhat contradictory while others would just shove it off as another man’s attempt to define something that is undefinable.
These eight are as follows:
1.) Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Poor in spirit. I have, today, heard it be defined as being in a state where you feel that you can’t do whatever it is you need to do. A state where it would seem that your will is gone, your heart torn. It is a state where you depend on someone else so much that others may view it as being a burden to that person. This is one of those sentences which, if you do not see the beauty of it, you would ultimately think of as an irony. You may wonder how someone could be blessed when they are in such a low position and how would it be possible for them to attain this so-called ‘kingdom’ in such a “loser-like” state?
They are blessed because those people who feel that they should give up, that all hope is lost and that there is nothing left to live for, those are the people who more-often-than-not reach out and open their hearts to Christ Jesus. It is in him, in Christ, that they depend on. And by opening their hearts, minds and bodies, allowing him to reach out to him and be transformed by him, to grow closer to him–their lives change for the better. They are saved from what would be a sad destiny to be in.
Christ uses the word ‘poor’ with the moral shade of meaning that he always has established, but made explicit by the phrase ‘in spirit’. He did so because they (the poor) are apt subjects for the kingdom of God–this is the theme of the Beatitudes.
Poverty goes hand in hand with the ‘spiritual childhood’ required for entrance into the kingdom.
2.) Blessed are the gentle, for they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Gentleness is often thought of and believed to be closely related to humility. Humility is defined as “the quality of being modest and respectful“.
Christ has often pointed out that one needs to be humble to enter the kingdom of heaven. He had done so in multiple occassions leading to his death on the cross and his resurrection. He had even pointed out that we should ‘be like little children’ for children are humble and gently by nature.
Today, however, it seems that everyone needs to be in a higher status and would rather boast of something that to be humble about it. How many times has it been since we wanted to be the best? To always look of for “#1”? How many times has it been since we wanted to be in the middle of the spotlight, standing in the podium? That we wanted to show off?
3.) Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Humans mourn or feel sad for a number of reasons, mostly and most heavily in times when we lose someone who is precious to us. Other times, when we fail to get something that we want.
Whenever we feel sad or mournful of something or another, we tend to come and seek those who are close to us. We seek the warmth and comfort that our love ones gives to us, and in having those we are quite blessed indeed. But most important of all, we should feel happy and secured even in those times as we should know that we are not alone.
The thing that I remember in this third beatitude is the poem “Footprints in the Sand”. It went by on telling of a man who dreamt he was walking along the beach with the lord and as he did so, moments in his life flashed before him and he noticed that there were two sets of footprints in the sand. But, he also noticed as he looked back on the lowest times of his life, that during those times, there was only one set of footprint.
The man then questioned the lord for he was very bothered by it and said, “Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
That story or poem holds true to what the message of this third beatitude is–for me.
4.) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, they shall be satisfied.
Righteousness is a moral attribute to God. The thirsty and the hungry are the oppressed and their desire for salvation, their yearning for the refuge of Lord, is well described as a ‘thirst and hunger after righteousness’.
To “hunger and thirst” after justice, is a strong and continous desire of progress in religious and moral perfection, the reward of which will be the very fulfillment of the desire, the continous growth in holiness.
5.) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be treated with mercy.
God is a merciful God, and although he is such, he also stated that when the hour of judgement came he will become just and give proper punishment. As such, this fifth beatitude is surely a wonderful promise to be given.
It was stated that further step should be taken to acting to the works of “mercy”, corporal and spiritual. Through these the merciful will obtain the Divine mercy of the Messianic kingdom, in this life and in the final judgement.
When we ask what it is to be merciful, we may think of a situation when we forgive someone who has done us harm, such would be the case in a perpetrator who asks for mercy to the victim asking that the victim would not demand to put him in a higher sentence than what has already been given.
Mercy is a term used to describe the leniency and compassion shown by one person to another, or a request from one person to another to be shown such liniency or unwarranted compassion for a crime or wrongdoing. Mercy is also one of the chivalry, Christian ethics, and Islam and is also related to the concepts of justice and morality in behaviour between people.
6.) Blessed are those with pure hearts, they shall see God.
What does it mean to be pure in heart? Purity of the heart cannot exclusively be found in interior chastity, nor even in general purity of conscience or legal purity required by the Scribes and the Pharasees of old.
To be “pure in heart” or to have a “pure heart” is the simple and sincere good intention, the “single eye”. It is something that is required in the works of mercy and zeal in behalf of one’s neighbor.
To have a pure heart doesn’t mean that we should have had no sins or wrongodoings whatsoever. No. For no one but the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christ Jesus attained such a thing. And for we are human, we are bound by our humanly weakness to do wrong.
To have a pure heart means that despite having done something wrong in the past, we have the courage to change. It means that we do good to others not because we want something in return or because we know that doing good would lead us to heaven but because it is what is right and we do it for the sake of doing it.
7.) Blessed are the Peacemakers, they shall be called sons of God.
“Peacemakers” are those who not only live in peace with others but moreover, do their best to preserve peace and friendship among mankind and between God and man, and to restore it when it has been disturbed. It is on account of this godly work, “an imitating of God’s love of man” as St. Greory of Nyssa styles it, that they shall be called sons of God, “children of your Father who is in heaven“.
So, how can we be such? It is doing simple things as forgiving those who had done us harm and forgetting it as they say. It is in knowing and living a life that shows that war is not the answer to obtain peace. It is living a life that follow the examples of God. It is following in his footsteps and the footsteps of the Saints and Martyrs that had gone before us.
A “Peacemaker” for my view, is someone who holds not a sword and a shield or a gun in his or her hand to defend something or usher forth peace, but someone who holds a rosary and cites a prayer of intention–praying for peace not just between nations, between men, but also peace in each and every individual’s hearts.
8.) Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There was a story that goes during the time when Gladiators were known and matchers were held where man was pitted against man or against beast. It was a time when such games held on to the rule ‘the strong shall live and the weak shall perish’ and ‘eat or be eaten’.
A lot of people at that time were so in to it that they didn’t even bothered to put a stop to all the meaningless bloodshed which was all for the sake of entertainment. That was, until a man stood up among the crowd, jumped into the ring and shouted, “This is wrong, this has to stop!“.
The people jeered at that man and he was ordered to be killed by the Emperor of that time there and then from where he stood. But his death was not invain, though. For among the crowds of thousands, there are those whose eyes and hearts were opened to the horror of it all. Although he was killed, he had sparked a fire that would consume and destroy the Gladiator matches forever and put a stop to the killings of that time and that kind.
Because we are Christians–followers of Christ, we will be, more often than not, persecuted, laughed at, and made fun of for whenever we stand in his side. In our world today, people see it as an entertainment to make jokes on religion and persecute it. And in our world today, those who stand up to defend it gets the worst kind of treatment. People say it is because of the revolutionary way of thinking most people now-a-days have.
I myself sometimes feel fear to speak up and defend my faith. I’m afraid that I would be made fun of and laughed at or even thought of as a weird person. And I am ashamed that I feel those things when instead of being a coward, I should be standing up on my belief and defending my faith. That instead of being interested in what people think of me, I should be more interested of what God thinks of me first.
I know that I am weak most of the time, but I also try my best to surpass that weakness as I am doing now. Even amidst the growing number of what people would think as a more interesting topic to talk about, I continue to choose what may be labelled as ‘religious topics’ in hopes of evangelizing and sharing the Gospel.
So, I guess now, when asked what happiness is all about. I can just tell everyone about the Beatitudes. Being blessed is, after all, far more wonderful than just being happy.
Happiness is not bound by material possessions or our status in life. It is not dependent on the number of things we have, how big our house is, how luxurious our living is.
I believe that the greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances. It depends greatly on how we treat others and how much faith and trust we put in God.