The secret of happiness


“There was once an ant which began saving food all through the summer in preparation for the winter.  The grasshopper however kept flitting from place to place, enjoying the summer and never stored any food for the winter.  When winter began, the ant had enough food for the season, but the grasshopper did not have any food.  So the grasshopper went to the ant and begged for some food.”

The teacher stopped at this point and asked the children to write and continue the rest of the story. Amazed at the reply of Mathew, she called up his mother and said, “In all my years of teaching, I have made children do this exercise, but have never seen a response like that of Mathew’s”.  Most children wrote, “And the ant told the grasshopper ‘get-lost’ you don’t deserve anything for not saving food during the summer”.  Some children wrote
“And the ant shared some of its food with the grasshopper.”

Mathew’s reply was different.  He wrote;  “And when the ant saw the tears in the eyes of the grasshopper and the hunger on his face, the ant gave away all its food.  And few days later the ant died” At the end of the page, Mark drew three crosses, as a reminder of sacrifice and selflessness even to the point of death.

When Jesus said, “If you wish to be my disciples, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”  (Mark 10:37) he was not advocating a life of suffering or self-inflicted pain. He was actually teaching his followers the sure way to happiness and the secret of happy relationships.  The joy of life is lost when there is selfishness in marital relationships, in friendships, between children, between parents and children, in business or at work. Denying oneself implies thinking of the needs of others first, especially those in dire need of material help, love, or forgiveness.  

The cross which was a symbol of shame because criminals were crucified on it became a
symbol of sacrifice and selflessness when Jesus was crucified in it.  Criminals crucified on the cross always mouthed the filthiest language and reigned curses on bystanders, on the emperor and their persecutors  but Jesus mouthed forgiveness even to those who persecuted him in the words “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). So, when Jesus urged his followers to take up their cross and follow him, he was encouraging them to embrace a life of forgiveness and mercy towards others. Look within and look around.  Selfless people are happier people.

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