by Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych
The Nativity story reveals a divine code of positive psychology that resonates with people from all ages, regardless of their religious persuasions. It reveals a radically different set of principles of authentic happiness that brings hope to all those who are disfranchised, oppressed and deprived.
- Happiness is not a right, not a product but a gift. It can not be demanded, purchased, or earned. It is a gift that comes to us when it is least expected but most needed. The heavenly message of great joy and peace came to the terrified shepherds in their nightly watch over their flocks. We cannot predict what will make us happy or when we will be happy, but we are more likely to be surprised by joy when we are spiritually attuned.
- Every negative can become positive through the transforming power of faith, meaning and self-transcendence. The brightest light can only be seen in the darkest night. The shepherds’ fears were turned into joy. The disgraced Mary became the most blessed woman. The outcast became the most influential person who ever walked on the face of this earth.
- The good life is not about the pursuit of personal happiness but about fulfilling one’s calling, which often entails self-sacrifice. Authentic happiness is primarily not about me (my strengths and my successes) but about others (meeting their needs and making a difference in their lives). Christ was born to suffer and die on the cross, but he changed the world through his death and resurrection.
- The essence of authentic happiness is spiritual. It has to do with the awakening of our spiritual nature. At the core of spirituality is our yearning for oneness with God and our compassion for people. Authentic happiness flows from our spiritual character and transcends circumstantial constraints. The path to the good life, according to both the Nativity story and the Beatitudes, is through spiritual transformation rather than earthly acquisitions.
A spiritually oriented authentic happiness is concerned with only one essential question: Am I fulfilling my purpose and my destiny in this needy world? To me, happiness means the positive feelings and thoughts associated with the experience of oneness with God, peace with myself and others, and the realization that I have lived a worthwhile life in spite of my limitations and external constraints.