AUGUST 26, 2012, Vol 62, No 17

Depiction of Jesus giving His Sermon on the Mount. The vision of happiness He offers is a paradoxical one.BEDROCK to Christian faith is the conviction that to be human is to be built for happiness. St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas agree that a desire for happiness is hard-wired into human character.

But contemporary psychological researchers like Dr June Gruber at Yale University are getting a lot of attention lately with claims that happiness has a “dark side”. Dr Gruber and her colleagues note that the search for happiness as an end in itself is almost always self-defeating.

They speak of it in terms of elevated expectations that cannot always be met, and which could lead to more acute disappointment, even more intense pursuit of happiness, loftier expectations, sharper sense of loss etc.

Researchers also note that a focus on happiness, understood as positive feelings of contentment and satisfaction, can lead to social isolation. Preoccupation with our needs and happiness crowds out concern for the needs and happiness of others.

The prescription for an overzealous pursuit of happiness, as these studies see it, is moderation. Scaling back expectations, monitoring our own happiness less intently, giving up a little self-satisfaction for the satisfaction of friends and family are some of the ways that people can avoid the pitfalls of pursuing “too much happiness”.
People are under great peer pressure to buy the most recent products, the latest tablet or mobile phone, but it doesn’t seem to make them happier or popular.The idea that one needs to be rich or spend a lot of money to be happy is a lie, says Daniel S Mulhall

WATCHING commercials can be disheartening. Every person, it seems, is carrying a number – the amount of money or products, we are told, needed to live happily.

What makes the commercials so disheartening is that many people can’t imagine ever having the money suggested in these advertisements to live “the good life”.

The idea that one needs to be rich or spend a lot of money to be happy is a lie. The opposite may be true. If you spend money you don’t have paying for “the good life”, the debt accrued will not make you happy.

American couple Jim and Susan Vogt of Covington, Kentucky, are among the few who have found happiness by choosing to live a simpler lifestyle that centres on family activities and engagement in their community.

Jim is the director of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative, which promotes education and action for social justice. Susan speaks and writes on marriage and family topics. They have been living simply for the last 45 years.

Dear Muslim Friends,

On behalf of the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Singapore, I would like to wish you and all Muslims a very happy Hari Raya Aidilfitri. May you have reaped great spiritual rewards from the season of Ramadan.

Muslims and Christians share a common humanity, and a tradition of prayer and fasting to help us draw closer to God.

Lent is similarly a time of deep reflection and sacrifice for Catholics so we can appreciate the faith and discipline that is required of Muslims during Ramadan.
CatholicNews recently posted on its Facebook page an article on tattoos and asked users for their views.

The article, Tattoos are a Matter of Taste, not Morality, was written by a priest and published in the British Catholic publication, Catholic Herald.

In it, he says there are “good moral reasons not to have a tattoo; and few cogent moral reasons to justify them”.

Our Facebook users had mixed views.

One says: “CCC [Catechism of the Catholic Church] has already stated that it’s fine to have tattoos as long as it’s not vulgar or distasteful.”