In a book published in November 2022, Pope Francis lists 15 “steps” we can take to walk toward happiness.
In a book published in November 2022, Pope Francis talks about how to achieve happiness and reminds us that God, as our creator, wants the best for our lives. The book is only available in Italian for now and is titled “I want you to be happy: The hundredfold in this life,” (“Ti voglio felice. Il centuplo in questa vita,” Pienogiorno). In the first chapter the Argentinian Pontiff offers 15 “steps towards happiness.” Here they are!
1. “Read inside yourself”
Pope Francis explains that “our life is the most precious book that has been given to us” and it is precisely within those pages that we can find the truth and happiness that we long and search for. The Pontiff cites Saint Augustine who said “return to within yourself; truth dwells in the inner man.” He invites everyone, including himself, to read their own lives and journeys “with serenity.”
2. “Remember that you are unique”
“Each of us is, and is in the world to feel loved in our uniqueness and to love others as no one else can do in our place,” the Head of the Catholic Church exhorts, adding that we should not sit on the bench, waiting to be called as someone’s backup. It is through our uniqueness that we learn to love. “Each person is unique in God’s eyes,” and remember “we are in the world to live a love story, a love story with God, to embrace the boldness of strong choices, to venture into the wonderful risk of loving,” the Pontiff explains.
3. “Bring out your beauty”
The Bishop of Rome states that “beauty is one of the privileged ways to reach” God, who is “inseparably good, true and beautiful.” This beauty is not “according to the fashion of the worlds,” or “turned in on itself,” or one which “comes to terms with evil,” he specifies. He cites Narcissus and Dorian Gray, as examples of those who sought the wrong kinds of beauty. “I speak of the beauty that never fades because it is a reflection of divine beauty,” Francis explains.
4. “Learn to laugh at yourself”
In a world which is constantly pressuring us to be perfect, Pope Francis recommends “occasionally looking in the mirror and laughing at yourself!” “It will do you good,” he adds.
5. “Live a healthy restlessness”
The Pontiff warns against becoming “a Peter Pan who doesn’t want to grow up” and stays locked up in his room. He encourages us to live a healthy restlessness in our “desires and intentions.” “That restlessness that always pushes you to change, to never feel like you have ‘arrived,’” he explains.
6. “Learn to apologize”
We are all aware that in our roles as mothers, fathers, friends, sons, daughters, etc we sometimes fail to live up to our and others’ expectations or aspirations. “We are all ‘in deficit’ in life,” explains the Pontiff. However, he adds that “we all need mercy” and in fact reminds us that “God always goes before you and forgives you first.”
7. “Learn to read your sadness”
In a world where sadness is seen as “an evil to be escaped at all costs,” Pope Francis offers a different view. He sees sadness as an “indispensable wake-up call.” “Sometimes sadness works like a traffic light, telling us: it’s red, stop,” he explains, calling us to embrace this essential emotion.
8. “Have big dreams”
“The Lord does not want us to narrow our horizons, he does not want us parked on the sides of life, but running toward high goals with joy and boldness,” the Pope exhorts. Additionally fulfilling God’s dreams for us needs to occur in our everyday lives, not just on weekends or vacations, the Pontiff underlines. Dreaming is how we can embrace the beauty of life, he says.
9. “Don’t listen to those who sell illusions”
Pope Francis warns against those who “talk about dreams and sell illusions,” as they are “manipulators of happiness.”
10. “Be revolutionary, go against the tide”
In a society where the norm is to enjoy the moment and not worry about taking concrete and definitive decisions, the Head of the Catholic Church asks us to be “revolutionary, to rebel against this culture that basically believes you are incapable of taking responsibility.” “Have the courage to be happy,” he urges.
11. “Take risks, even if you end up being wrong”
In order to be happy the Pontiff says we must be active in our lives and not observe it “from the balcony” or be like “a parked car.” “Don’t confuse happiness with a couch,” he says, encouraging us to take risks and to overcome our fears so as to not live with an “anesthetized soul.”
12. “Walk with others”
Pope Francis underlines the importance of having a community and close knit relationships to allow us to be happy. “Walk in community, with friends, with those who love you: this helps you get to your goal. And if you fall, get back up,” he states, saying that the importance is to not “remain fallen.”
13. “Live gratuity”
Pope Francis encourages us to learn from God who “gives freely, to the point that he even helps those who are not faithful.” He calls on us not to be constantly measuring what we give and receive in return. “ We received life for free; we did not pay for it. So we can all give without expecting anything,” the Pontiff explains.
14. “Look beyond the darkness”
“Do not stop looking for the light in the midst of the darkness we so often carry in our hearts and see around us,” Francis encourages. He invites us to “look up” so as to “overcome the temptation to remain lying on the floors of our fears.”
15. “Remember that you are destined for the best”
Finally, for the last tip, Pope Francis reminds us again that “God wants the best for us: he wants us happy.” God does not ask us for anything but simply leaves in our hearts a joy that is “full and unselfish” and “never watered-down.”