Here are some “I’ll be happy when” responses . . . when I have a better job, when the kids are in school, when the nest is empty, when I retire, when I win the lottery, and finally when I lose weight. There are as many answers to this question as there are people in the world because everyone desires happiness.
Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, defines happiness as “the fulfillment of a desire,” which is why the things we desire most in life define the happiness we experience. Fr. Spitzer’s model of happiness includes 4 successively high levels of happiness.
- Pleasure – food, drink, shelter, affection
- Comparative –status, popularity, power
- Contributive – Helping family, friends, community, church, society
- Transcendent – Unconditional love, truth, goodness, the sacred spiritual …….God in other words.
Luckily we have a guide, a teacher, who can show us the path to level four. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us the game plan to live the transcendent life . . . the Beatitudes.
Catholic writer Linda Rooney, says “Jesus gives his followers a ‘study guide’ in the form of 8 characteristics of those who would follow him.” We hear Him emphasize that those who develop these characteristics will live blessed lives. We, too are being given a blueprint upon which we can build a happy life. Today, we are asked to understand that vision and to imagine another definition of happiness, to live as a blessing to ourselves and others.
Ask yourself “what brings true, long lasting happiness to my heart?” How can I be a blessing to myself and to others in my life today?