I was going to copy a letter from Pope Francis, such a smart guy, to give us hope fin all the turmoil, but I can’t find it – along with my keys and cell phone. At church our priest read the letter for his sermon and I thought, “This will be my blog this week – rather than giving a mild chuckle to the millions and millions of people who read this blog faithfully (or maybe that’s just one person – Pearl), I’ll give them Pope Francis’s take on happiness, and how we can have it even with the Capitol being stormed and all the other sad news we have.”

Doggone it. I can’t find it. Let me see if I can remember what he said. 

Remember to follow your dreams – venture outside yourself – don’t be afraid to attempt the journey – something like that. In other words, when it comes to your dreams, go after them. Don’t be a wimp. A cowering dog. A lazy bum. (My words, not his, in case you’re confused). So I guess following your dreams is a way to make you happy, even if it’s a lot of work and frustration.

Another thing he said was don’t try to buy happiness – it won’t last. I know this from experience. My son always wanted something new growing up – a new skateboard, guitar, amplifier, dirt bike – some THING that was going to fulfill him and make him whole since being without this THING made him miserable. He always begged to open his birthday and Christmas presents early. I’m not saying that they didn’t make him happy, but if that item was all it took, why did he want a new something a couple of weeks later? 

Things don’t make you happy, whether it’s a new skateboard or a bigger house, otherwise anyone who finally moves into their dream house would quit complaining, but they don’t. “We should have made the master bedroom bigger.” “I wish we didn’t have these high ceilings – it’s always cold in here.” As Roseanna Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always something.”  I tried to find Gilda Radner’s commencement speech to Columbia University – funniest thing I’ve ever heard – but can’t find that either. It’s a conspiracy!

Also the Pope says that kindness will make you happy – it’s more rewarding than money. This one is a little harder for me to wrap my head around – the choice between someone telling me, “Thank you,” or giving me a million bucks. Hmmmm. But if I think about it a little, I get it. Whenever I’ve been kind to someone, I get that “good deed” sort of feeling, walk a little taller, feel a little better about myself. If they offer me money, I won’t take it – unless they insist. Come on, I’m no saint. 

If I could remember any more from the Pope’s letter, I would elaborate on those points, too, but I think the gist of the letter was that, even in bad times, we can still be happy, because happiness comes from us, not to us. I once drew a picture for a very negative high school kid I tutored. Talk about whining all the time! Sheesh! The world was an awful place, everyone was against him, teachers made him do stupid homework, his mom was cheap and wouldn’t give him money, whah, whah, whah. As I listened to him repeat his troubles, I drew a circle with a couple of continents – a quick messy sketch – I’m no artist either. “Do you know what this is?” I asked.

“Uh, is it the world?”

“Yes.” Then I drew two profile people, one on top of the other. I put a frown on one and a smile on the other. Then I said, “The world is the same. It’s the way you look at it that makes the difference.”

Picture of the world with a sad face and happy face looking at it - the world is the same, it's the way you see it that's different.
I’m no artist!

I just drew this in Photoshop. It’s awful, but you get the point and so did the kid. After we’d talked about it, a few days later I caught him laughing with some other kids in the library when I was tutoring someone else – I’d never seen him with another student, and never seen him even smile. Did I change his life? Will this blog change yours? Who knows? A person can hope, can’t they? 

That’s one thing I hope I never lose – hope! 

Now doggone it, where the heck did I put my cell phone?