by Father John Catoir
My aim in my work is to encourage everyone I come into contact with to live a more joyful, optimistic life. In the face of all the troubles we encounter in this world today, I realize that this task can seem daunting to some.
But I also know that everyone can do something positive to change the course – or at least his or her attitude – toward living a happier life.
Some say there’s an association between a good frame of mind and good health. Anecdotally, we hear of people who can ward off disease by maintaining a good attitude. Yet we bring so much misery upon ourselves by the way we allow our minds to absorb all the gloom and doom around us or imagine the worst-case scenario.
This can be costly in a lot of ways. If you do not cultivate a joyful, optimistic state of mind, you will most assuredly live a life of needless emotional pain. This in turn could take a toll on your health – physically and mentally.
Reject Pessimism, Fear
It is not merely a medical concern; this is a spiritual problem. The failure to control your thoughts and fears shows a lack of discipline, and sometimes a weak faith as well. Jesus taught us to reject pessimism and fear, not only because it leads to a loss of faith and hope, but also because a joyless spirit can cause health problems that won’t go away. Granted, we can’t live forever, but we can take steps to live longer and as happier people.
If you’ve been reading my column over the years, you know that I keep stressing the importance of cultivating an attitude of joy.
I do this for you, but also for myself. It takes mental discipline to focus on positive thinking. This form of ascetical discipline is often overlooked.
And yet, Jesus called on us to be brave and to overcome our fears: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage (or cheer up), I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).
You can scoff at the simplicity of His words, but do it at your own peril. Jesus was a realist. He said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy” (Jn 16:20).
St. Catherine of Siena understood these words as an invitation to joy. She put it this way: “All the way to heaven is heaven.”