The 7 Secrets of Happiness According to Athonite Elders

Perhaps, there is no person on earth who has never dreamt of being happy. However, everyone has their own concept of happiness. For some people happiness means material welfare and richness, while other people see happiness through success and popularity among other people. Some people lack a soulmate to reach happiness, other people need to be healthy… According to the Holy Fathers, the true happiness of a human being is kept not in the secular joys, which can disappear in a flash, but in the love towards the Lord, which transfigures the world around us.

1. Faith in God

Of course, the first key to happiness of the Athonite monks is faith and love towards the Lord. If a person manages to come to this in his life, then nothing more can make him unhappy. Once, a woman asked St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia why keeps saying he is happy although his health condition has got much worse. The saint replied: “Read the Holy Scripture, go to church, find a spiritual father, partake of the Holy Communion – in other words, be a good Christian and then you will find the happiness you are looking for. You see, I am sick now, but I am still happy. The same concerns you: when you will come closer to Christ, you will become happy with your life”.

2. Becoming free from worries and vanity

St. Paisios the Hagiorite said that to feel happy one has to live a natural and simple life, in which there is no place for excessive luxury, vanity and senseless worries. The saint told: “Once a doctor from America came to me. He told me about the life they live there. People there have already turned into machines. They devote their life to work. Each family member is supposed to have their own car. What is more, to make every family member feel comfortable at home, there must be at least four TV-sets.  So go on, work and get exhausted, earn a lot of money so that you can say your life is happy and comfortable. But does this life have something in common with happiness? Such a life, full of worries and non-stop rush, is not happiness, but a torment.”   

3. Sober mind

Monk Simeon the Athonite has a short parable, which shows that outer circumstances cannot influence on whether we feel happy or not. Salvation is within us, and this is why one must have a sober mind to endure any difficulties. Here is the parable: “A person who could not swim was floundering in water. He caused waves, which he mistook for a dangerous stream. He began to fight with the waves. Finally, he understood that he can float on the water and then managed to reach the riverbank. When he came out of water, he saw that the river was calm and understood that the waves he was fighting with were caused by him. Any misfortune begins within us. If you get your head straight, it will end within us.”

4. Pure heart

According to St. Nektarios of Aegina, the right way to happiness is to have a pure and kind heart. “Happiness is a pure heart because such a heart becomes the throne of God. The Lord said about people with pure heart, I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people (2 Corinthians 6:16). What can they lack then? Nothing indeed. They already have the greatest good in their hearts – the Lord Himself!”

5. Ability to forgive

Forgiveness is one of the most important Christian virtues. This is why everyone who is trying to reach happiness must learn to forgive his neighbor. Due to forgiveness, a person makes his heart free from old offences, and a joyful heart is always happy. “This is our law: if you forgive, then it means that the Lord has forgiven you too. But if you do not forgive your brother, then your sin will stay with you”, - said Silouan the Athonite.

6. Give more, take less

To become happy one must share his joy and happiness with their people. It seems that there is no secret in it, but Monk Simeon the Athonite considered this ability to be the rarest among people. The one who comprehends it, becomes happy.

7. Being grateful for small favors

“Desires are the mess of the world”, - said Simeon the Athonite. Indeed, the more a person dwells on his desires, the bigger his appetite gets. Having no opportunity to get enough of what he wants, a person dooms himself to unhappiness. St. Paisios the Hagiorite suggested fighting against desires with abstinence: “We find happiness when we are grateful for small favors. What do people do today? They buy, and buy, and buy again various goods, cars, electronic devices and many other things. Of course, they lack money and worry all the time about this. We must be grateful for small favors and try not to grasp as much as possible. Having only the necessary things, one should not work too much. Then people will have more time to be at home with their children and family, for activities together, for prayer and for living in a warm family circle instead of being constantly under pressure.