The Jehovah’s Witnesses near here (rural Southern Oregon) are great people — at least the ones we know are. They support each other and come around about once a month to proselytize. In this area they are well organized, well respected, and stubborn. They travel in a group — at least 3 or 4 adults in a car. One one of them gets out and socializes, usually — the others are there “just in case”. One of the guys on our road has been put on a “do not visit” list, we are told, for profanity and consistent rudeness.
I admire their persistence. They show up every month, even though they know that we are ministers of the Scientology religion, and they ask fascinating questions that put our catechism to good use, and make me glad I learned it so I can answer their questions.
They always leave the latest “Awake!” and “The Watchtower” magazines, which do a good job of presenting their religion. (It’s available monthly in 82 languages.) Their literature has been upgraded a lot since I was a kid (my pediatric dentist was a Witness, and he had back issues of their magazines in his lobby). They try to keep it timely and write articles about things in the news.
The April 2006 issue of “Awake!” magazine had a series of articles on Happiness — a subject of much interest to us all. They gave a list of nine “Ingredients for Happiness”, which I quote here:
1. Developing a spiritual outlook on life. — Matthew 5:3.
2. Being content and avoiding “the love of money”. – 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
3. Keeping pleasures in their place. – 2 Timothy 3:1,4.
4. Being generous and working for the happiness of others. — Acts 20:35.
5. Being thankful and counting your blessings. — Colossians 3:15.
6. Having a forgiving spirit. — Matthew 6:14
7. Choosing your associates wisely. — Proverbs 13:20.
8. Taking care of your body and shunning bad habits. — 2 Corinthians 7:1
9. ‘Rejoicing in the hope’ set out for you in the Bible. — Romans 12:12.
If you are Christian, these are all worthwhile practices toward achieving happiness.
If you are a member of another religion (Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hindu, Scientology) one or two of them might not be applicable, as they require not just a respect for, but a belief in the teachings of the Bible.
I can’t speak for any of those religions except Scientology, and even then, only as a sole Scientologist from my own viewpoint. Scientologists like myself do a lot to help distribute “The Way to Happiness“, a Non Religious guide to moral behavior, which results in happiness if applied. It was written by the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, but it is not itself a religious document. It’s a moral code anyone can live by, regardless of their religion or lack of it. If that seems odd, keep in mind that the vast majority of our founding fathers were deeply religious Christian men, yet they created our United States Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. So it is not without precedent for religious leaders to create important non-religious written works that help mankind.
I believe “The Way to Happiness” to be such a document. Simply written, its logic is impeccable and the precepts it lays out are understandable and do-able by the average Joe, no matter WHAT his or her religion may be. It’s a “uniform code of moral behavior” for the secular as well as the religious person. We can all follow it, and it does result in a happier life if you do. Even those in prison who are exposed to these precepts have been known to turn themselves around and start respecting others and themselves.
You can download a free copy of it here in any one of 95 languages: The Way to Happiness. It’s what I was missing as a child — I wish it had been around then and that I could have read it as a teen. It would have saved me a lot of grief growing up. Fortunately this book is being widely distributed in schools (being non-religious, it can be) so many children today are getting a moral foundation to put under them that doesn’t depend on their adoption of or forfeiture of any religious beliefs.