I had a revelation last week. It should have been obvious to me all along. It was one of those “couldn’t see the forest for the trees” type moments.
Here’s what happened. I was on a radio program to discuss strategies for striving to be saints in a society of sinners. One of the questions we discussed was how the pursuit of a saintly life and happiness fit together.
I had thought about this in advance through the lens of my two books. The intent of the first, sAint Me?! A Practical Guide to Building and Living Your Personal Plan Toward Sainthood, is to inspire us to strive to be the saints we were all meant to be. I used the word “saint” to represent a person who is striving to be their best for the benefit of others. My belief is that the more striving saints we have in the world, the better place it will be for us all. Better People, Better World.
In Playground Heaven: Your Guide to Feeling Like a Kid Again, the purpose is to help us all regain the joy we had as children on the playground. The thought here is that happier people make for a happier world. Happier People, Happier World.
Here’s the revelation. In my experience, happy people tend to be better people, and better people make for a better world. That is how the two books fit together. The things we can do to recapture our joy just happen to be the same things we should do to be saintlier. Happier People, Better People, Happier and Better World.
Okay, so it’s not that big of a revelation, it should be obvious to us all. Yet, I see a growing need for us all to remember its truth and strive to be our better and happier selves.
I wonder which comes first, happy or better? Actually, let’s replace the word better with good. Are we good people because we are happy people, or happy people because we are good people? Or both? I like both the chicken and the egg, it doesn’t really matter which comes first as long as we get both.
I do know that it is easier for me to be good when I am happy. I am also happy when I am being good. Just like on the playground. Remember the first time we were sent off on our own? What were our instructions from our parents and teachers? Be good, play nice, and have fun, right? If we followed this simple advice we were happy. If not, we weren’t.
Anyway, the day after the radio show I was scheduled to talk with a group of middle school students about the topic of morality. I thought I better look up the dictionary definition as a starting point. Morality is “Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong, or good and bad behavior.”
As I prepared to talk to the kids, I was once again brought back to the idea that being good and being happy go together. I chose to start my remarks by asking them if they wanted to be happy? Of course they all did, we all do.
I told them that the best way to ensure their ongoing happiness is through making moral choices. If we make moral (right and good) choices we will be happier than if we make immoral (wrong and bad) choices.
Another revelation and a duh at the same time. But I think we often tend to lose sight of the simple truths in life. We get confused because the moral choice is not the choice we are told to make as we are bombarded with immoral messaging all day long.
What do I mean by that? I read recently that we are exposed to 5,000 advertisements every day. Can that be true? I tend to believe it. The combination of using our phones, computers, and televisions probably adds up faster than we realize. We likely aren’t even consciously aware of most of them, but our subconscious doesn’t miss a thing.
If only they were all positive messages that help us make right and good choices. But of course, they aren’t. An advertising executive told me long ago that “sin sells.” Most of our choices in life are made based on emotion, then justified using selective logic. We do what we want to do, not necessarily what we should or need to do.
The constant barrage of ads we see play on our emotions and our human weakness to sin. I use the seven deadly sins as my guide for what not to do. Greed, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, and worst of all Pride. All of these are used to appeal to our emotions and our wants.
It is difficult to consistently make choices based on their opposite virtues; Charity, Kindness, Patience, Chastity, Temperance, Diligence, and Humility. These are selfless principles requiring a focus on others over self. Adhering to them provides us with what we need to be the good and happy people we desire to be.
It is interesting to note that the sins are all commonly referred to as vices. We know they are bad for us and yet they are what our society promotes. In fact, we tax them knowing they are a huge source of easy revenue. Then we set aside part of the tax to fund programs that help people overcome the related addictions. There is a 12-step program available for them all. Gambling is but one of many examples. Crazy!
So how do we make the moral and happy choice in this crazy world? Here are the steps and advice I gave the kids:
Here’s the moral of this morality story: Be Good, Play Nice, Have Fun, Be Happy, Save the World! This is also your challenge for the week. I assume you will have collectively solved all world problems by this time next week. How about this, at least solve one for yourself. Make a choice you would not normally make but that you know is the right and good thing to do. See what happens. I bet you’ll be happier.
Oh one last thing. Have you wondered what the deal is with the “Halo A” used in both my book titles and websites? Well, since the words “saint” and “heaven” both contain A’s and conjure up the image of a halo for me, it was used to cross the A’s.
I like the image because it reminds me to strive to make good choices in my personal efforts to be a better and happier person. I am constantly asking myself if what I am thinking, saying, and doing is helping me to be more of a saint, or an ain’t?” That’s also why I sometimes spell the word “sAint” using a capital A. To remind myself to overcome the natural tendency toward the Ain’t. I actually see the A as being an arrow pointing towards heaven.
Anyway, these weekly messages are drawn from the thoughts in both books, and from new thoughts as we progress in our happiness journey together. I thank you for your continued interest. And if you know others who would be interested in joining us, please send a message their way and ask them to join our email list and become part of the Playground Heaven Living Facebook group.
If you’d like more in depth information about using virtue to improve your happiness and saintliness, you can download my free e-book, The Flying V’s: Soar to New Heights by Living a Life of Virtue. It includes a fun game to help you stay on track. Enjoy!
Choose Happy:-) Scott