How Can I Find Happiness?

The following is the first of a four-part series from our Friends of Mercy newsletter

Every human person is created by God, in His image and likeness, and called to eternal happiness with Him in Heaven (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1). But what exactly is happiness? Every person probably has a different answer to that question. But in the eyes of God, happiness is not a matter of opinion, feelings, or taste.

The Catechism states that the desire for happiness is of divine origin. "God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it" (1718). The Catechism then goes on to quote two doctors of the Church, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, respectively:

Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.

God alone satisfies.

Happiness, then, is a state of being when one finds fulfillment in God. Jesus teaches us how to find that fulfillment: by living the Beatitudes. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you (Mt 5:3-12).

The Catechism explains that Jesus invites us through the Beatitudes to His own "beatitude" - the supreme happiness that He is, which is in store for us in Heaven:

The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement - however beneficial it may be - such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love (1723).

But even while seeking this beatitude by living the Beatitudes, our journey on this earth can oftentimes live up to its name as a "valley of tears." How, then, do you practically find true, deep, and lasting happiness?

Start by asking yourself: Am I living my life to my full potential? Am I fully living the Beatitudes?

In the world of psychology, this is called "human flourishing." You flourish in your life when you live an authentically meaningful life that brings peace and joy, and the ability to surrender in trust, confidence, and gratitude to the Lord in all of the peaks and valleys of your life. Is that not what we read above from Matthew 5:3-12?

When you live your life according to the Beatitudes, to your full potential, you can truly flourish in every aspect of your life as God intended for you. Catholic psychologists Craig Titus, William Nordling, and Paul Vitz have researched and published extensively on this idea of human flourishing. They divide the aspects of one's life and one's vocation into three levels:

(1) the basic call to goodness and holiness, which stems from one's relationship with God;
(2) the call to one's state in life (married, single, consecrated, or ordained life); and
(3) the call to work and service.

Read part two.
Read part three.
Read part four.


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