If there’s one undeniable fact about human nature, it’s that we all want to be happy. We crave joy—infinite, endless joy.
The problem is, we often look for happiness in all the wrong places, leaving ourselves frustrated and miserable. The plethora of wildly popular self-help books shows that we are hungry for guidance on how to live well.
One man found the secret of true happiness. His name was St. John Bosco. He was a man who experienced many trials, but who also lived a life full of gladness and joy. St. John Bosco was so happy that he could hardly contain it. “Dear friend,” he wrote to an associate, “I am a man who loves joy and who therefore wishes to see you and everybody happy. If you do as I say, you will be joyful and glad in heart.”
So how did St. John Bosco find real happiness? Here’s his six recommendations for living a joyful life:
Live for God alone – “Give God the greatest possible glory and honor Him with your whole soul. If you have a sin on your conscience, remove it as soon as possible by means of a good Confession.”
Be a servant – “Never offend anyone. Above all, be willing to serve others. Be more demanding of yourself than of others.”
Be careful in your associations – “Do not trust those who have no faith in God and who do not obey His precepts. Those who have no scruples in offending God and who do not give Him what they should will have many fewer scruples in offending you and even betraying you when it is convenient for them.”
Spend carefully – “If you do not wish to be ruined, never spend more than you earn. You should bear this in mind and always measure your true possibilities accurately.”
Be humble – “Be humble. Speak little of yourself and never praise yourself before anyone. He who praises himself, even if he has real merit, risks losing the good opinion of others. He who seeks only praise and honors is sure to have an empty head fed only by wind… will have no peace of soul and will be unreliable in his undertakings.”
Carry your cross – “Carry your cross on your back and take is as it comes, small or large, whether from friends or enemies and of whatever wood it be made. The most intelligent and happiest of men is he who, knowing that he is doomed to carry the cross throughout life, willingly and resignedly accepts the one God sends him.”
Finding real happiness isn’t complicated. Anyone, even a child, could live by these simple rules.
Yet, these prescriptions are pretty counter-cultural aren’t they? They are the exact opposite of what society tells us will make us happy. You certainly won’t find them shared in a New York Times best-seller.
But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what society says. The most joyful of all people are the saints—men and women like St. John Bosco. They were truly and lastingly happy because they had discovered the secret that holiness is real happiness. And they want you to discover it too.