Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are You Happy?

"Are you happy now?" The writer begins her article in the Seoul Diocesan Bulletin with  these words. Surfing on the Internet, these words in English perked her curiosity. It was a lead-in to an advertisement for a diet plan, claiming that fat people can't be happy. The diet promised that its diet will not only help users to lose over 5 kilos, but help them regain happiness. Isn't this preposterous? she asks. That you can't be happy if your fat?

The reason the writer was so agitated was that she recently saw a TV program whose theme was happiness. Over 40 percent of Koreans, when asked what was the number one condition for happiness, said it was money. The program mentioned that earning up to 4,000 dollars a month would cause the happiness index to go up. Earning more than that and there are problems. Spending additional time making money often disrupts family life and relationships with friends.  

It seems that happiness, she quips, has an expiration date. Is there no long-lasting happiness here on earth?  she asks. The writer believes there is. But it's not the happiness you want to show off to others. It's the happiness she wants for herself. Daily, she gathers and puts together, she says, the small moments of happiness in her life.

To the ad's question, "Are you happy now?" she does not hesitate to answer 'yes'.  Not because she is not fat but because of those moments of happiness, such as her daily warm cup of coffee and milk first thing in the morning, as she gradually becomes wide awake and in action mode. She has been in the habit of doing this from her early twenties, when she was mountain climbing, and has been doing this for over 30 years.

Another moment of happiness takes place in the evening. Before going to  bed, she writes in her diary, has a glass of wine, which the doctor recommended for improving blood circulation, and listens to music. It's the time she uses to look over the events of the day, and to enjoy a relaxed feeling of satisfaction for a day well-spent.

The third thing she does is to read poetry out loud. She has a habit of speaking fast so she began to do this from the time she was in high school in the hope of slowing down her speech. She reads the poems carefully with a loud voice. This has allowed her to memorize a number of the poems, and has been helpful in selecting words which she uses in her writing. She would like us all to find out how many of these small birds of happiness we currently have in our own hands but have not yet allowed them to spread their wings and fly.

Today is the feast of Pentecost and the day on which we remember to give thanks for the knowledge of the gift of the Spirit. We have a Comforter internal to ourselves that is not influenced by what is external to us.  We are temples of the Holy Spirit. This gift of gifts allows us to be open to the many  joys of our lives, once we rid ourselves of our self-imposed obstacles.