This article was written by Susan Prudhomme, whose blog can be found here.
The friend of whom she writes is also my friend. Here’s what Susan wrote…
Are you happy? How do you pursue happiness? I recently received a “forward” whose gist was that the secret of happiness is to depend entirely on God. I sent it to a friend serving a life term in prison who seems, in that locus of despair, sorrow, rage, and fear, to exude equanimity and even a sense of humor about his circumstances, and I asked him if this is his “secret” as well. He responded with a brief commentary on the differences among happiness, contentment and joy.
Contentment, he said, is an acquired habit of mind and spirit (as St. Paul tells us, contentment is something he learned to have in whatever circumstances he found himself). My friend says God always gives him the grace to endure his challenges and he is gradually learning to be content. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and “joy I have in spite of adversity and extremely unpleasant circumstances because the Spirit is in no way limited by those elements.”
He goes on: “Happiness is another story entirely. I am not actually convinced that happiness is important, and considering how much of a person’s life can be squandered in the pursuit of such an elusive, fleeting sentiment, it seems more worthwhile to me just to forget the whole thing. To my mind, it is better to concentrate on the joy of the Spirit, strive for contentment in the strength of the Lord, and nevermind about happiness.”