In a very frank interview published in the Argentine weekly “Viva”, Pope Francis gave out 10 very sensible pieces of advice on how to live a happy life. Contrary to what most might think, none of them show intent to convert to religion and it is in no way implied that only through being a Catholic, will you be able to achieve a blissful life. The unconventional Pope’s advice got as specific as telling people to turn their TVs off when they sit down to eat. While some may find it hard to rest on Sundays or find time to play with their kids, it’s more about the general idea of finding time to rest and spend quality time with your family.
1. “Live and let live”: Everyone should be guided by this principle. There is a similar expression in Rome; “Move forward and let others do the same”.
2. “Give yourself to others”: People need to be open and generous toward others, because if you withdraw into yourself, you’ll get stuck and run the risk of becoming selfish. Remember, stagnant water becomes putrid.”
3. “Proceed calmly in life”: Pope Francis used to teach high school literature, and he often used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist, gaucho Don Segundo Sombra, looks back on how he lived his life.
“In “Don Segundo Sombra”, there’s something great about someone who rereads his life; he says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool of water. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water, to have “the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life”.
4. “A healthy sense of leisure“: The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said.
“Consumerism has brought us anxiety” and stress, causing people to lose a “healthy culture of leisure.” Their time is “swallowed up” so people can’t share it with anyone.
Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it “complicated, but you must do it,” he said.
Families should also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtimes “doesn’t let you communicate with each other”.
5. “Sundays should be holidays”: Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.
6. “Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people”: ”We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said. “It’s not enough to give them food,” he said. “Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home” from one’s own labour.
7. “Respect and take care of nature”: Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”
8. “Stop being negative”: ”Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, “I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,” the pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy”.
9. “Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs”: ”We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,” the pope said.
10. “Work for peace”: ”We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.