How to be happy when I’m not happy! Keep your third eye open, all day, to help others.
“…what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Perhaps we can rephrase this:
“…what must I do to always feel hopeful & joyful in the midst of my struggles & happy times?”
Or, “…how can I be happy when I’m not happy!!!!”
The parable of the good Samaritan expresses the answer: stop thinking ONLY about “my program.” Mothers are usually great examples: there are so many demands on a mother. She can feel like there’s no time for herself. However, when a mother helps her baby to walk, the joy on the baby’s face makes her forget the hardships: her heart is filled with joy & pride.
In the same way, our Samaritan friend, because he was able to look outward from his own challenges, saw the need to help the man in serious distress and used his time and materials . If I were the Samaritan, I think it would have cheered me up: imagine walking a long distance or riding on a rough donkey, and feeling sorry for yourself. Then you see the other person suffering, and you suddenly think: “I’m doing well! Things could be worse!”
So, let’s ask our question again: “…how can I be happy when I’m not happy!!!!” In short we need God moments, where the joy we bring to others makes us feel like God feels. The secret is sharing some of our time to help others every day, week and month:
- volunteering on a regular basis, stopping to help in emergencies, giving a lift to someone, etc. Even going to Church should be seen as a gift to everyone else at Mass: individually we are not superstars, but the presence of everyone else in the Church encourages me in my faith. And I’m sure it’s the same for others, but they just don’t think about it… it just is.
On that basis, I have to say I have many God moments in my life as I mentor the youth in Nairobi. In Kenya, as you know, times are presently very hard for unemployed people, and even students at University. Recently our Oblate Youth sacrificed up to $20 each to take food and travel to a very poor school past Chuka, to encourage them about the value of education.
When they arrived, they cooked lunch and most children came for seconds, while many came for thirds. The 48 children were very hungry. Due to poverty, parents don’t pay for lunch or send food with the children. They usually eat a few black berries from the local trees and go back to class. The youth left Nairobi at about 6am, some were up at 3am. They arrived home about 10pm that night.
They came with empty pockets, but full of joy: they had made a difference, a big difference, not just for the children but also for the teachers and parents (they heard we were bringing lunch!).
This is not a once off event. They meet monthly to do something good for others. Now they are planning a serious outreach to members of the Oblate Youth: checking in with some food or money to make sure the few young mums are doing OK, and other “inactive” youth members.
Another youth decided to write a thank you letter to his maths teacher in Primary School. She called him immediately after receiving it and started crying with joy – his was her first letter!
Then, the simple act of giving someone a life as I drive to Mass: we never know it might be Jesus. We need to stop being so focused on the end of our daily journeys and see what is happening along the way: haraka, haraka, haina Baraka (rush, rush & you miss the blessings).
Not going fast does not mean you have to crawl along (especially if driving or you’ll create many curses, not blessings!) but to free our minds to see what is happening around as we move.
Some people laugh at me because I carry lots of sweets: this allows me to give something small to guards or beggars at traffic lights; it says: ‘I see you. You have dignity.’ As opposed to the rich man dressed in fine garments who walked past Lazarus without even noticing him: a bit like the difference between Jesus’ physical pain and the pain of humiliation on the cross.
The more we plan for small acts of kindness, the more peace, joy & contentment we’ll have in our daily lives. Men don’t wait to rescue the lady in distress: just do simple acts of curtesy and humility, and our hearts will be transformed from negative to positive energy.
Although many of us brush over the Responsorial Psalm each week, this week is helpful: “how often do we beg God to help us but, at the same time, we close our minds to our neighbour?”
When dogs sleep, they usually keep one eye open for survival! You might not know that this is actually a “third eye” that dogs have: like the third eye we humans have: seeing with our hearts. As we go about our business each day, let’s keep our third eye open for others, so our hearts can survive. “the Word is very near to you, …in your mouth …your heart for your observance.”
Let’s make a difference this coming week: at least one small act of kindness every day.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI