Happy New Year 2015


Saturday, August 11, 2007

"What makes you Happy in Life?" by Fr.Jose Panthaplamthottiyil

"What makes you happy in life?" My question was not pre-meditated or well-planned. As I saw his angelic face bubbling with joy and enthusiasm, the question popped out of my mouth before I knew it.

He paused. Then with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, he said: "I am happy when I do the right things in life."

"Excellent!" My response was spontaneous. Then I realized there was a tear in my eyes. For a brief moment I was choked with emotion by listening to the wisdom of an eleven-year-old boy.

A few months later, as I walked into Christ College, as a lecturer in 1991, I was curious to find out how our first year Pre-University students would respond to my question. In some of the classes I went to, I asked the students to write-down-three most important things that make them happy in their life.

Their answers were diverse and numerous. However, some of them were common and identical. Most students wrote their family makes them happy. The second most common answer was that their friends make them happy. Here are a few other things they thought would really make them happy in their life: good marks, sports, movies, good jobs, helping others and being loved.

As I scanned through their answers I was pleasantly surprised in several respects. Is it not a familiar saying that 'getting things and having things' really make us all happy? Then how is it that most students chose family and friends as what really make them happy? Another thing that surprised me was the near absence of the mention of money in their answers. Am I to believe that they know better when the world seemingly is going after money as if nothing else matters in this life? Anyway, they seemed to think that money is something that can buy everything in this world except happiness.

Also, they did not think of food and drink either when they searched for answers to my question. It is like they have already learned at this young age that the pleasure derived from food and drink is transient while happiness is something that really runs deep in our lives.

Our young students seem to find happiness at home with parents who care and with brothers and sisters who share their love. They find happiness when they are with their true friends. They also find happiness when they help others. Their happiness is real. No doubt about it. If they can find happiness in so many different ways, why is it that some of the adults among us think that true happiness is like a butterfly that is always beyond our grasp?

As I walked back to my residence, the words of Jesus came to my mind: "Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the merest children."

Yet, I sadly remembered that some of these very same students will probably lose their innocence very fast as they begin to grow up in our confused world. That made me wonder whether the grown-ups could do anything to make this world a better place to grow up for our students. Then I heard the eleven-year-old boy saying with a chuckle: "By doing the right things in life!"

(Courtesy: Children's Digest, Feb.1999 - Pub. Rashtra Deepika Ltd, Kottayam, Kerala)

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