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Father Muench Says...

To find happiness: STOP.. LOOK...GO

Jan. 11, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I would like to continue today the vision of a “new year.” I again wish to all of you  a “Happy New Year.”  Let me begin this new year by thanking you for being part of my family of readers.  I do appreciate your joining me each week in this spot. 

The traditional new year greeting – “Happy New Year” – is rather intriguing, isn’t it?  We wish to each other the gift of happiness throughout a whole new year.  Each of us will face the challenge of discovering our happiness.
Recently, I listened to a podcast dedicated to the theme of happiness presented by the TED Radio Hour.  The podcast included several interviews of psychologists whose centered on “scientific answers” to finding happiness.  They were rather interesting.

The last portion of this podcast was a surprise for me.  This portion was a talk given by Brother David Steindl-Rast – a Benedictine Brother.

I have included some of Brother David’s ideas here before.  His talks are always terrific.  This particular talk is a message about happiness.  His theme: if you want to find happiness, be a grateful person.  I would like to share with you my take on Brother David’s idea.

Everyone had much to be grateful for.  Happy people are grateful people.  They are happy because they are grateful.  Many happy people don’t have much, but they are grateful for what they do have.  Each experience becomes a gift, a valuable gift from the Lord.  We can and should express our gratitude to the Lord for every moment – every moment is a given moment, a new opportunity, a time to be grateful.

Brother David does make it clear that there are some there are some things we will never be grateful for – like violence and war.  However, we are constantly given a new moment that leads to hope for our future.  This gift of hope leads us to gratitude that shows us the happiness of a Christian. 

We have been gifted with hope by our God.  If you are grateful, you are not afraid, you are not violent,  you respect equally all who you meet.

Brother David suggests a method for becoming a grateful person, one whose gratitude leads to happiness.
His method is rather simple – STOP – LOOK – GO.

Each of us need more STOP signs in our days.  Life can get far too busy. If we’re in too much of a hurry we can fail to recognize the gifts that are ours.  Because of this, we fail to recognize how much God loves us.  We fail to recognize the good experiences that are ours, the loving people who are part of our lives, the good things that happen to us.  We fail to recognize the new moments that constantly come to us.  We have so much to be grateful for.

So, we must take the time to LOOK.  We must begin to recognize the gifts that bless our lives.  As faith-filled Christians, we believe that God loves us and blesses our lives.  So, I ask you to take the time to LOOK – to recognize all that is ours – to be grateful.

Let me share with you one little example.  This Christmas I was so grateful and happy to receive many Christmas cards.  Some were surprises from people who were an important part of my life but I haven’t heard from in ages.  I am truly grateful that they took the time to send me a card.  Each new card brought so much happiness.

So, Brother David urges us now to GO – to act, to live out each day in happiness and bring that happiness to others.  Often happiness is about others, not about ourselves.

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