Spirituality and Happiness by Gina Messina

A course on happiness at Harvard University is the most popular class in the nation right now. It is taught by Tal Ben-Shahar who also wrote the book Happier based on his curriculum. “What does it mean to be happy?” seems to be the question that many are asking these days as we are accumulating more with less fulfillment. Perhaps the question we should be asking is, “what does it mean to have what we need?”

We wake up each morning thinking that we do not have enough — not enough sleep, not enough time, not enough money, etc. We have fed into the media messaging that we need more and that a gluttonous life is a good life. We want the bigger house, the new car, the walk in closet filled with the latest fashion, and high dollar skin care products so we can escape aging.  

I am guilty of succumbing to the predatory marketing practices. I’ve openly admitted to having an unhealthy obsession with handbags. I had assembled quite the collection over the years. Each had its own dust bag and I kept them stuffed with tissue paper to maintain their form. They lined my closet and occasionally I would stop to admire them. Sometimes I switched bags based on what would work best with my outfit, or hold my laptop, or what would put the least weight on my shoulder. For a while, they were a source of pride.

As I had found myself swept up in the happiness question, I realized that the beautiful, well constructed bags that I had collected did not increase my quality of life; in fact, they did little more than add clutter to my closet. Thus, it begs the question, why did I want them in the first place? Continue reading “Spirituality and Happiness by Gina Messina”

In the Meantime, I Thrive by Karen Leslie Hernandez

Let me tell you, the dating world is a whole different universe. Especially for a woman my age and who do what I do. I am sure many reading this can relate.

Here are some comments I have received from men after they find out what I do:

“I hope you don’t try to convert me.”

“I don’t date girls smarter than me.”

“You are gorgeous, those green eyes! Why can’t you find anyone? Do you not like sex, or something?”

“Do you say, OH GOD! During sex? Has a whole different meaning with you, huh?”

“I’m not sure I can handle dating someone who is getting her Doctor of Ministry. Are you a Pastor? What do you do exactly?”

“I have a problem with religion.”

“You’re sexy for a theologian!”

“You are fiercely independent.”

“Wow, you are confident…”

“You went to Wellesley? Did you become a lesbian when you were there?”

“Are you a feminist?”

No joke. So real, so outrageous and so ridiculous. Although comical over a beer or a glass of wine, in reality, these comments are obviously a reflection on the men who said them to me, rather than on me. I have also encountered some scary dates, but, those are not worth mentioning here, except to say, that while navigating the dating world can be seriously challenging, it also has a treacherous side.

Continue reading “In the Meantime, I Thrive by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Happiness Habits by Katey Zeh

derek-thomson-406050Finding joy has never been a priority for me in terms of how I structure my life. A long-term goal? Certainly, yes. My path to getting there, however, has been misguided. I’ve held the common belief that if I can achieve and succeed enough, joy–or at the very least, contentment–will find its way to me.

Sometimes I wonder if I was drawn initially to the field of faith-based advocacy because the nature of the work is to resist complacency. The successes are few and far between, and they are never sufficient for achieving the ultimate goal of justice for all. My proclivity to be dissatisfied with progress and to keep on pushing aligns well with the vision of many social justice movements.  

My permanent state of dissatisfaction, which was for some time a motivational force, seeped into how I felt about nearly everything. Whenever feelings of joy or happiness would arise, particularly around work, I often attributed them to a false sense of pride that had caused me to lose focus on the long game. In short, I didn’t believe I deserved to feel joy. Continue reading “Happiness Habits by Katey Zeh”


There is a strong thread of fatalism in modern Greek culture that has been a powerfully healing antidote to my American upbringing in the culture of “I think I can, I can.”  When confronted with an obstacle, many Greeks throw up their hands, raise their eyebrows, and say, “What can we do?” This phrase is not an opening toward change, but a closing–an acknowledgment that there are many things in life that are not under our control.

In American culture we are taught that if we work hard enough, we can achieve our goals. This view can bring a light of possibility into fatalistic cultures. The truth, however, lies somewhere in the middle–between fatalism and belief in the power of individual or collective will.

In American culture the belief that we can “have it all” if only we work hard enough is the root of much personal suffering.  If things don’t turn out as we imagined they should have, we often blame ourselves. Continue reading “IS ‘HAVING TO HAVE’ ONE OF THE ROOTS OF SUFFERING? by Carol P. Christ”

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