Inspired and Blessed by Bob Acebedo
Inspired & Blessed

Purpose, giving, and gratitude

Dec 28, 2022, 12:27 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo

Columnist

With no intent of belaboring the obvious, the all-embracing theme of the Christmas season is joy and happiness.

But, pray thee, do the hustle-and-bustle, gaiety, and cacophonic merrymaking ever render genuine happiness – if any?

In other words, in sober pondering, where can we find true or lasting happiness?

For many, happiness can be measured in terms of HAVING MORE – more money like winning the lottery, more property like houses or cars, more profits in a business venture, more salary from a job, more power or fame.

But psychologists aver that these cannot provide lasting or all-embracing happiness due to a phenomenon called, “hedonic adaptation.”

Hedonic adaptation is the withering feeling of happiness about something – say, a dream house or car – after having or possessing it. It is “getting used” to it, the happy feeling dies down, and the craving for more – more money, wealth, property, fame, or power – accelerates anew.

If not HAVING MORE money or wealth, fame or power, where else can we find true or lasting happiness?

There are, I like to reckon, three profound sources: Purpose, Giving, and Gratitude.

Purpose

Happiness, in Greek etymology, is “eudaimonia,” which literally means “human flourishing.” In other words, according to the ancient Greeks, happiness is but a flourishing of one’s full potential.

Similarly, the Greek word for purpose is “telos,” which the Greek philosopher Aristotle defines as the “full potential of a person,” or “supreme end of man’s endeavor.”

From this etymological perspective, hence, it can be said that happiness and purpose are undeniably correlated, that profound or lasting happiness springs from realizing or fulfilling one’s life-purpose.

Whilst, how can we find and realize our purpose?

Purpose is using our deep strength and potential to serve or benefit others. It is less about what we want than what we give.

The true nature of a human person is to relate with others. “No man is an island,” so the classic song goes. We did not come into this world alone, but through our parents and into a God-given social unit, which is our family.

Therefore, if it is human natural law that we have to relate with others, it behooves then adducing that our human purpose implies that we are meant not only for ourselves but for others, that we are meant not only being blessed but also as a blessing to others. For, truly, to serve others – as our purpose – is to benefit ourselves, to bless others is also to bless ourselves.

Giving

While our human purpose is to serve others, we too can find lasting happiness in GIVING. Verily, “happiness is not what we get, but what we give,” so goes the oft-quoted truism.

The joy of giving lasts longer than the joy of getting. From the internet I came across six reasons why giving is better or begets more joy than receiving, namely: 1) Giving helps others; 2) Giving inspires giving; 3) Giving teaches responsibility; 4) Giving cultivates self-worth; 5) Giving makes a difference; 6) Giving is easy (like sharing one’s time or lending a listening ear).

Giving is enshrined in the theological principle of love, which is the greatest of all commandments. And the greatest gift of love that we can give is ourselves, our own life, for the benefit of others and for the greater glory of God.

Gratitude

If love is the greatest of all commandments, GRATITUDE is the greatest of all virtues. Even more, the pre-Christian philosopher, Cicero, wrote that “gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all virtues.”

Hence, gratitude is a necessary consequence of love, and is inseparable from love.

Contemporary science claims that practicing gratitude can generate smooth, rhythmic heart coherence and increases dopamine in our brain, the stuff that makes us feel good.

Gratitude is a wellspring of blessing and graces. By gratefully reciprocating the goodness of God or of another person, we amplify the goodwill or blessing that we receive. As we bestow our gratefulness, it does not only please the one we are grateful to, but our gesture of gratefulness benefits ourselves or somehow comes back to us, effecting a profound or lasting happiness on our part.

In a sense, the more we are grateful, the more we will find things to be grateful for – and the happier we are.


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