In the conclusion of one of my favorite books, “The Geography of Bliss”, the author tries to answer the question, what makes us happy?

Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think.

Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.

As we begin the season of Advent, let’s break this quote (from a secular author) down into spiritual parts.

Money: I am not going to tell you that money is unimportant. Let’s face facts, we are all economic people. So, yes, money matters. The amazing thing is that once you reach a certain level the benefits of money don’t get any appreciably bet- ter. More and more money does not make you happier and happier.

Family and friends: Happiness is not a noun or a verb, it was once said, but a conjunction. Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and fellow parishioners. That is why the holiday season is so wonderful for some and painful for others. It is a time when we reconnect with our loved ones and celebrate. It is also a time when loneliness and alienation are more heightened and pronounced.

Envy: Comparisons are a losing proposition. You will always be less than someone else. Other people are always faster, prettier, smarter, funnier, stronger, richer, more clever, more popular, more everything than you. When we begin the game of envy, we will lose – EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is no secret that the color of envy is a sickly green, because envy can only make us nauseated.

Excessive thinking: Many of my inner monologues are dysfunctional. I convince myself that someone slighted me. I convince myself that I am not the right person for a job. I convince my- self that I am not doing what I should, or should be doing more or should be working smarter.

Overthinking some things gets me into a lot of trouble. Prayer, on the other hand, is listening to what God wants from me. And it is often balanced, relaxed, growth orientated.

Beaches: I like the mountains better. But beaches are OK, especially in Hawaii.

Trust: The simple fact of the matter is, the more we trust others, the happier we will be. That is not to say that, at times, we can be hoodwinked and duped. It happens.  But do you really want to live in a world without trust?? Be careful where you fill up your gas tank. Be careful what restaurants you go to. Be careful about where you de- posit your money. Be careful driving. Be careful with everything. (I think I made my point.)

Trust is absolutely necessary for a happy and fulfilled life. That’s what the season of Advent re- minds us, as we trust in a God who will come into our lives in a new and vibrant way.

Gratitude: see last week’s bulletin.

Let’s make this Advent a special one. How about going to an extra daily Mass a week? Thursdays are Primary Class Masses. Adorable! If you haven’t been constant about weekly Mass, how about a return? Everyone should be getting vaccinated! What about lighting an Advent wreath in your house or on your dinner table?

How will you prepare for Christmas? How will you make your life more joyous and happy?

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