Pope Francis smiles as he meets children during his June 25 general audience in St. Peterâ€™s Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) â€” Slowing down, being generous and fighting for peace are part of Pope Francisâ€™ secret recipe for happiness.
In an interview published in part in the Argentine weekly â€œVivaâ€ July 27, the pope listed his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to oneâ€™s life:
1. Live and let live.
Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, â€œMove forward and let others do the same.â€
2. Be giving of yourself to others.
People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because â€œif you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.â€
3. Proceed calmly in life.
The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist â€” gaucho Don Segundo Sombra â€” looks back on how he lived his life.
â€œHe says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a poolâ€ of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water â€” to have â€œthe ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life.â€
Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime â€œdoesnâ€™t let you communicateâ€ with each other.
4. A healthy sense of leisure
The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. â€œConsumerism has brought us anxietyâ€ and stress, causing people to lose a â€œhealthy culture of leisure.â€ Their time is â€œswallowed upâ€ so people canâ€™t share it with anyone.
Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it â€œcomplicated, but you must do it,â€ he said.
Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime â€œdoesnâ€™t let you communicateâ€ with each other, the pope said.
5. Sundays should be holidays.
Workers should have Sundays off because â€œSunday is for family,â€ he said.
6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people.
â€œWe need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugsâ€ and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.
â€œItâ€™s not enough to give them food,â€ he said. â€œDignity is given to you when you can bring food homeâ€ from oneâ€™s own labor.
7. Respect and take care of nature.
Environmental degradation â€œis one of the biggest challenges we have,â€ he said. â€œI think a question that weâ€™re not asking ourselves is: â€˜Isnâ€™t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?â€™â€
8. Stop being negative.
â€œNeeding to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, â€˜I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,â€™â€ the pope said. â€œLetting go of negative things quickly is healthy.â€
9. Donâ€™t proselytize; respect othersâ€™ beliefs.
â€œWe can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: â€˜I am talking with you in order to persuade you,â€™ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,â€ the pope said.
10. Work for peace.
â€œWe are living in a time of many wars,â€ he said, and â€œthe call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactiveâ€ and dynamic.
Pope Francis also talked about the importance of helping immigrants, praising Swedenâ€™s generosity in opening its doors to so many people, while noting anti-immigration policies show the rest of Europe â€œis afraid.â€
He also fondly recalled the woman who helped his mother with the housework when he was growing up in Buenos Aires.
Concepcion Maria Minuto was a Sicilian immigrant, a widow and mother of two boys, who went three times a week to help the popeâ€™s mother do laundry, since in those days it was all done by hand.
He said this hard-working, dignified woman made a big impression on the 10-year-old future pope, as she would talk to him about World War II in Italy and how they farmed in Sicily.
â€œShe was as clever as a fox, she had every penny accounted for, she wouldnâ€™t be cheated. She had many great qualities,â€ he said.
Even though his family lost touch with her when they moved, the then-Jesuit Father Jorge Bergoglio later sought her out and visited her for the last 10 years of her life.
â€œA few days before she died, she took this small medal out of her pocket, gave it to me and said: â€˜I want you to have it!â€™ So every night, when I take it off and kiss it, and every morning when I put it back on, this woman comes to my mind.â€
â€œShe died happy, with a smile on her face and with the dignity of someone who worked. For that reason I am very sympathetic toward housecleaners and domestic workers, whose rights, all of them, should be recognizedâ€ and protected, he said. â€œThey must never be exploited or mistreated.â€
Pope Francisâ€™ concern was underlined in his @Pontifex Twitter feed just a few days later, July 29, with the message: â€œMay we be always more grateful for the help of domestic workers and caregivers; theirs is a precious service.â€