By Henrylito D. Tacio
ARE you happy? A friend once asked me. I replied affirmatively. Yes, despite all the struggles in life, the crisis we encounter, and the trials we face every day, we can still smile and laugh. After all, Filipinos are among the happiest peoples in the world.
Happiness can’t be measured by one’s wealth. A vagabond on the street once said, “I’d be happy if only I had five hundred pesos.” A person passing by who heard him handed the vagabond a P500-bill. The man who received it said, “I should have asked for one thousand pesos.”
Yes, it’s not how much you have money in the bank, what kind of car you’re driving, or the house you are now living. Jane Canfield reminds, “The happiest people are rarely the richest, or the most beautiful, or even the most talented. Happy people do not depend on excitement and ‘fun’ supplied by externals. They enjoy the fundamental, often very simple, things of life. They waste no time thinking other pastures are greener; they do not yearn for yesterday or tomorrow. They savor the moment, glad to be alive, enjoying their work, their families, and the good things around them.”
Live simply. That’s the first rule of happiness. Life is getting complicated these days. Before we only use telephones. Now, we have cellular phones which we can carry anywhere and with so many things you can do. Before, we only had cameras that take pictures; now we have cameras that will not only take photos but take videos as well. In the past, I only used typewriters to write my articles; now I am using computer which can accomplish almost anything – from editing to checking wrong spellings.
A lot of people I know are not happy because they make their lives miserable by joining the bandwagon of modern living. They hoard many things that they don’t actually need. The trouble is, they don’t have enough means to pay for their whims. “Live simply, so others may simply live,” someone once said.
Living simply is a philosophy of life. In his book, Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin wrote: “To live simply is to unburden our lives — to live more lightly, cleanly, aerodynamically. It is to establish a more direct, unpretentious and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives: the things we consume, the work we do, our relationships with others, our connections with nature and the cosmos.”
The next rule: Serve others. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” said Mahatma Gandhi. Wilfred Greenfell added, “The service we render for others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth.”
You might think you cannot serve others because you are not famous, you are not mighty, or you are poor. But it’s not all about your status in life that matters but the capacity to serve others. Someone once asked a famous conductor which orchestral instrument he considered the most difficult to play.
The conductor thought a moment and answered, “Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists. But to find one who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddles, we have no harmony!” You may a second rate personality, but you are still important in the cast.
Og Mandino, the author of The Greatest Salesman in the World, advocates: “Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”
Nathan C. Scheaffer asks: “At the close of life, the question will be not, How much have you got? How much have you given? not How much have you won? but How much have you done? not How much have you saved? but How much have you sacrificed? it will be How much have you loved and served, not How much were you honored?”
And you cannot serve others if you don’t shares your treasure, talent or time. So when you leave this world, what will people think of you? An e-mail sent to me by a friend has this answer: “What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone. What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave?”
The third rule for happiness: Trust God. American President Abraham Lincoln once admitted: “That the Almighty does make use of human agencies and directly intervenes in human affairs is one of the plainest statements in the Bible. I have had so many evidences of His direction, so many instances when I have been controlled by some other power than my own will, that I cannot doubt that this power comes from above.”
If you are looking for happiness, why not ask from Him? The Bible promises, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Our personal relationship with God must be right, or all else comes to naught. “When we leave God out of our reckoning, difficulties will daunt us, temptations will triumph over us, sin will seduce us, self will sway us, the world will warp us, seeming impossibilities will irritate us, unbelief will undermine our faith, fear will frighten us, and all things will ear a somber hue,” F. E. Marsh reminds.
“But when God is recognized as the One who undertakes for us, then difficulties are opportunities to trust Him, temptations are the harbingers of victory, sin has no attraction, self is denied, unbelief is ignored, service is a delight, contentment sings in the heart, and all things are possible,” he adds.
These are my three rules for happiness. Live simply. Serve others. Trust God. Happiness comes not from having much to live on but having much to live for.
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