Six Ways to Live a Joyful Life from St. John Bosco

February 26, 2016

If there’s one undeniable fact about human nature, it’s that we all want to be happy. We crave joy—infinite, endless joy.

The problem is, we often look for happiness in all the wrong places, leaving ourselves frustrated and miserable. The plethora of wildly popular self-help books shows that we are hungry for guidance on how to live well.

One man found the secret of true happiness. His name was St. John Bosco. He was a man who experienced many trials, but who also lived a life full of gladness and joy. St. John Bosco was so happy that he could hardly contain it. “Dear friend,” he wrote to an associate, “I am a man who loves joy and who therefore wishes to see you and everybody happy. If you do as I say, you will be joyful and glad in heart.”

So how did St. John Bosco find real happiness? Here’s his six recommendations for living a joyful life:

  1. Live for God alone – “Give God the greatest possible glory and honor Him with your whole soul. If you have a sin on your conscience, remove it as soon as possible by means of a good Confession.”
  2. Be a servant – “Never offend anyone. Above all, be willing to serve others. Be more demanding of yourself than of others.”
  3. Be careful in your associations – “Do not trust those who have no faith in God and who do not obey His precepts. Those who have no scruples in offending God and who do not give Him what they should will have many fewer scruples in offending you and even betraying you when it is convenient for them.”
  4. Spend carefully – “If you do not wish to be ruined, never spend more than you earn. You should bear this in mind and always measure your true possibilities accurately.”
  5. Be humble – “Be humble. Speak little of yourself and never praise yourself before anyone. He who praises himself, even if he has real merit, risks losing the good opinion of others. He who seeks only praise and honors is sure to have an empty head fed only by wind… will have no peace of soul and will be unreliable in his undertakings.”
  6. Carry your cross – “Carry your cross on your back and take is as it comes, small or large, whether from friends or enemies and of whatever wood it be made. The most intelligent and happiest of men is he who, knowing that he is doomed to carry the cross throughout life, willingly and resignedly accepts the one God sends him.”

Finding real happiness isn’t complicated. Anyone, even a child, could live by these simple rules.

Yet, these prescriptions are pretty counter-cultural aren’t they? They are the exact opposite of what society tells us will make us happy. You certainly won’t find them shared in a New York Times best-seller.

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what society says. The most joyful of all people are the saints—men and women like St. John Bosco. They were truly and lastingly happy because they had discovered the secret that holiness is real happiness. And they want you to discover it too.

Source for St. John Bosco’s recommendations: American Needs Fatima.

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Sam Guzman

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  1. Carlos C. says

    Number three seems problematic. I feel its addressing the company you keep defines who you are. I get that, but what if the company I keep is of good moral character and judgment,yet are not Catholic. Betrayal, Catholics can also betray. I don’t know,number three is problematic.

  2. Ambrose says

    Notice that he says “…and do not obey His precepts.” Those who are “of good moral character and judgment,” as you say, are obeying Gods precepts, even if they don’t realize it (Though we should still encourage them to join the Church). So the person who has no faith and does not obey God’s precepts is the type of person who has no scruples. This is the type of person that St. John Bosco warns us about.

  3. Debra Stone says

    “Carry your cross on your back and take is as it comes, small or large, whethgnedly accepts the one God sends him.” This one for me is the hardest. We each feel we have a cross to carry, but we feel that we should not have to, some kind of punishment. Carrying the cross is the greatest gift of all.

  4. Jayr Alencar says

    Carlos, I´m from Brazil, and I work in an organization where most people are not catholic. Many do not believe in God.
    I think like you, it´s problematic, but not impossible.

    Pax et bonum

  5. Andrew Markich says

    This is a great post. So simple but true. A great Saint to teach us how to live. A sure way to obtain happiness if people really think and consider and use their intellect and will.Thanks.

  6. Andrew Markich says

    Number three is not really problematic.This Saint is talking about those that do not believe in God will lead us astray and possibly onto the road to perdition. The closer one gets to God the happier one becomes. We need to live this life in preparation for the next where we will be eternally happy with Him if we follow His commandments.

  7. james says

    They are all lovely sayings but are any authenticated? I suspect he never said several of them including #4.

    It would be nice if authors who posted such things provided some sort of citation. This same list is posted on many other sites yet so far I have not been able to find any citation.

Trackbacks

  1. […] One man found the secret of true happiness. His name was St. John Bosco. He was a man who experienced many trials, but who also lived a life full of gladness and joy. St. John Bosco was so happy that he could hardly contain it. “Dear friend,” he wrote to an associate, “I am a man who loves joy and who therefore wishes to see you and everybody happy. If you do as I say, you will be joyful and glad in heart.” Read more here at The Catholic Gentleman. […]

  2. […] One man found the secret of true happiness. His name was St. John Bosco. He was a man who experienced many trials, but who also lived a life full of gladness and joy. St. John Bosco was so happy that he could hardly contain it. “Dear friend,” he wrote to an associate, “I am a man who loves joy and who therefore wishes to see you and everybody happy. If you do as I say, you will be joyful and glad in heart.” Read more here at The Catholic Gentleman. […]

  3. […] One man found the secret of true happiness. His name was St. John Bosco. He was a man who experienced many trials, but who also lived a life full of gladness and joy. St. John Bosco was so happy that he could hardly contain it. “Dear friend,” he wrote to an associate, “I am a man who loves joy and who therefore wishes to see you and everybody happy. If you do as I say, you will be joyful and glad in heart.” Read more here at The Catholic Gentleman. […]

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