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By:  Mary Desantis, Pastoral Associate at Saint John of God Parish

Here is a strange topic for reflection these days, but timely, maybe. Studies from the Mental Health Field are revealing that more people today are lacking happiness in their lives than was indicated before COVID arrived on the scene. Why is that? There are so many reasons for the “mental malaise” we may currently be experiencing that it is not necessary to provide a list. One need only to read a newspaper or tune into a newscast, regardless of whether it be television or radio to be bombarded.

What seems to have happened is that we have lost the connection which anchors us in life situations. We have lost our center, so to speak.  We have lost that which grounds us when the storms of life are threatening. For each of us, that centering support may be different. However, holding on to it as storms rage around us restores hope in the atmosphere of chaos. That centering support is within, not without! It requires self-awareness and choice on our part in order to identify it. This is by no means an easy task!

Identifying “your centering support” helps to define what happiness is for you!  A myriad of definitions for happiness can be cited; for some it may be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - for others a publisher for their memoirs - and others an electric car received as a tax-free gift.  These are silly examples, as each one has no real permanent value when it comes to identifying a centering support within oneself upon which to rely. Especially when life gets tough as it so often does.

For me, I have identified my anchor as faith in a higher, benevolent power within which all will be well for this included. All else is fleeting.  With that established, the rest for me is easy. Daisies growing in a field, the ocean tides with their consistent regularity coming ashore or ebbing, watching a vibrant sunset, meditating, and, of course, the faces of my children and grandkids…just a few examples of what makes me happy.

“Happiness is an inside job,” according to William Arthur Ward. Each of us has the power to choose what happiness is for us. Continuing, he adds “don’t assign anyone else that power." Trust your power to choose! Especially when the voices around you are full of gloom and impending doom.

Happiness is about the little things that lift one’s spirits as opposed to the “toxic junk” in the atmosphere waiting to engulf you. Finding your center and identifying what happiness is for you is imperative in today’s world.  For those of you who have done so, peace! For those of you in the progress of determining this, steady lies the course!

I leave you with these powerful images to ponder:
·       Live simply
·       Dream big
·       Be grateful
·       Give love
·       Just Be
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Written by Fr. Victor Ray for the week of May 29th.
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