OpinionOpinion L.A.

From Pope Francis: 7 secrets to happiness and 5 misery enhancers

Pope Francis
Pope Francis gives tips for being a happy person. Proselytizing is not one of them.

It was Pope Francis who called the Internet a "gift from God," so perhaps it's no surprise that his recent remarks on happiness have made their way into the most classic of Web formats: the listicle. To commemorate his first 500 days as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the pontiff spoke at length this week to a news outlet in his native Argentina.

The unconventional pontiff, who often surprises with his off-the-cuff remarks, outlined his recommendations for happiness and also spelled out some no-no's in an interview with Viva.


1) Do not proselytize. No pushy efforts to convert people to your religion.

2) Do not work so hard. Make time to play with your kids, dabble in art if it moves you, crack open a book for goodness sake.

3) Do not be an introvert. That's just putrid: "If you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid."

4) Do not watch TV at dinner. Open your mouths for conversation as well as food (politely, we assume).

5) Do not be a jerk to the housekeeper. As a boy, Pope Francis was very fond of a woman who helped his mom with the laundry. "She was as clever as a fox, she had every penny accounted for ... She had many great qualities." Because of this charming woman, he gained sympathy for domestic staff and said "they must never be exploited or mistreated."

Now for the pope's secrets to happiness; we've boiled it down to our favorite seven:


1) In Rome, the saying goes "Campa e lascia campa," or, Francis said, "live and let live."

2) Give of yourself to others. The pope is a prime example of this. He's been rumored to sneak out of the Vatican at night to minister to the homeless.

3) Take Sundays off. Sunday equals Family Day.

4) Be pro-peace, and be loud about it. "War destroys," he said. Peace is "not quiet," he added. "We must shout out for peace."

5) Be pro-environment. Humanity may be "committing suicide" by degrading the environment, the pope said.

6) But be calm. Francis advocates "kindness and humility, calmness of life."

7) And put your feet up. According to the pope, leisure time is an essential ingredient of happiness.

Doing No. 7 right now. Follow me @AmyTheHub

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Pope Francis
  • Pope Francis, Esquire's 'Best Dressed Man of 2013'
    Pope Francis, Esquire's 'Best Dressed Man of 2013'

    There’s a whiff of publicity stunt about Esquire magazine’s decision to name Pope Francis its “Best Dressed Man of 2013.”  But the magazine’s editors are pretty astute in recognizing that the pope’s “black shoes and unadorned, simplistic...

  • New Afghan government; same old problems
    New Afghan government; same old problems

    President Obama called Kabul on Sunday to congratulate Afghan presidential contenders Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah for finally accepting a power-sharing deal to resolve a months-long dispute over who won in an election deeply marred by fraud. "Signing this political...

  • What 'war on women'?
    What 'war on women'?

    On Friday, the White House announced its “It's On Us” initiative aimed at combating sexual assaults on college campuses. I'm all in favor of combating sexual assault, but the first priority in combating a problem is understanding it.

  • Ashley Swearengin for state controller
    Ashley Swearengin for state controller

    Californians have been breathing a bit easier in recent months as the state government's finances have turned — slowly, like an ocean freighter — from disaster to solvency. But the work is hardly done, and diligence is called for to ensure the budget doesn't drift off...

  • Let's make a climate deal, California
    Let's make a climate deal, California

    It has been almost 25 years since the United States joined much of the world in Rio de Janeiro and tentatively agreed to do something to reduce the pollutants associated with global warming and other climate disruption. Since then, though, the U.S. has been a laggard in taking major action....

  • Why single out L.A. hotel workers for a wage boost?
    Why single out L.A. hotel workers for a wage boost?

    The Los Angeles City Council is, again, trying to rush through a proposal to establish a special $15.37-an-hour minimum wage just for hotel workers. A committee hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday and a full council vote is expected the following day, even though three reports from...

  • What about those other greenhouse gases?
    What about those other greenhouse gases?

    The U.N. Climate Summit that starts Tuesday is a precursor to the Paris climate conference scheduled for next year. No treaty will come out of the summit in New York, which is more of a brainstorming and cheerleading session.

  • The ugly surprise of out-of-network doctors and 'balance billing'
    The ugly surprise of out-of-network doctors and 'balance billing'

    The New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal offered an important lesson in healthcare economics over the weekend that's a must-read for anyone about to undergo a major medical procedure.