by Father Mark Goldasich
Back when I was in grade school, my mom was a room mother. Once, while the class was on a field trip, Sister Claudia, the principal, pulled my mom aside and said, “Watch them! Wherever there’s a sign that says, ‘Do Not Touch,’ that’s the first thing they’re going to do!”
Well, Sister Claudia was wise . . . and absolutely correct.
Now that we’re entering into the 50 delightful days of celebrating the season of Easter, I hope that you’ll pay absolutely no attention to this prescription for unhappiness:
- Make little things bother you. Don’t just let them; make them!
- Lose your perspective of things and keep it lost. Don’t put first things first.
- Give yourself a good worry — one about which you can’t do anything but worry.
- Be a perfectionist: Condemn yourself and others for not achieving perfection.
- Be right, always right, perfectly right all the time. Be the only one who is right, and be rigid about your rightness.
- Don’t trust or believe people, or accept them at anything but their worst and weakest. Be suspicious. Impute ulterior motive to them.
- Always compare yourself unfavorably to others, which is the guarantee of instant misery.
- Take personally, with a chip on your shoulder, everything that happens to you that you don’t like.
- Don’t give yourself wholeheartedly or enthusiastically to anyone or to anything.
- Make happiness the aim of your life instead of bracing for life’s barbs through a “bitter with the sweet” philosophy.
Use this prescription regularly and you’ll be guaranteed unhappiness. (Found in “Illustrations Unlimited,” by James S. Hewett, editor.)
Why do we so often insist on following this prescription? Why do we have such a difficult time maintaining an attitude of joyfulness and hope during the whole Easter season?
Honestly, joy and hope are what the world could use a huge dose of right now. And if we Christians aren’t going to do it, who will?
Obviously, there’s no shortage of ways to be people of the new life of Easter. We just have to be open to our natural creativity. If you’re like me, though, sometimes we need a little push in the right direction. A favorite source of fun ideas for me is Dmitry Golubnichy’s “Can You Be Happy for 100 Days in a Row?”
Here are some happy things you might consider adopting:
• Belt it out. In other words, cut loose singing in the shower, in your car or — here’s a novel idea — in church.
• Rearrange the furniture in your home. This can change your perspective in more ways than one.
• Make a photo album. Just looking through old pictures can bring back pleasant memories of people and places.
• Smile at and talk to a stranger.
• Play catch. Head outside with the kids or a co-worker to toss around a football or Frisbee. It’s a great way to clear your head . . . and the fresh air won’t hurt either.
• Plan a road trip. Even the anticipation provides a boost to your mood.
• Visit an elderly person and ask them about the good old days.
• Cook something new. Make enough to share with a neighbor (if it turns out tasty, that is).
• Surprise someone with a gift or bouquet of flowers, no reason needed.
• Hang out with a new friend.
• Ask someone for help with a task.
• Give kudos to their boss about someone who has been helpful to you.
Just writing out these suggestions has already lifted my mood. I can’t wait to try them out.
This Easter season, let’s make this our goal: “Dance as though no one is watching. Love as though you’ve never been hurt. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.”
And with the risen Christ, it really is!