Pope Francis outlined 10 keys to greater happiness in a recent interview with a weekly Argentinian publication, and his suggestions are beautiful — at once, simple and profound. I love that they are not explicitly Catholic, and thus accessible to everyone.
I’m going to spend some time with this list and consider both the baby steps and the big changes that I can make to access this deeper joy that’s offered to us. I invite you to do the same. But let’s not stop there.
Do you know someone who could benefit from this message? (Couldn’t we all?) Perhaps someone who isn’t Catholic or is no longer practicing, but may welcome the joy of these truths? I encourage you to send these steps to them. Consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, too; you never know who may need to hear this.
1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”
2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”
3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.
“He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool” of water, the pope said, noting that he likes this latter image of a pool of water — to have “the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life.”
4. “A healthy sense of leisure.” The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said.
“Consumerism has brought us anxiety” and stress, causing people to lose a “healthy culture of leisure.” Their time is “swallowed up” so people can’t share it with anyone.
Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it “complicated, but you must do it,” he said.
Families also must turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on at mealtime “doesn’t let you communicate” with each other, the pope said.
5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.