Tag Archives: healing

Lent is not about what you are doing for Lent

By now, you’ve probably been asked, “What are you doing for Lent?” And, whether you’re willing to share, you likely have an answer. You probably know what you did last year for Lent and may even be able to recall the most memorable or challenging thing you ever did for Lent. But what if the question were, “What is God doing for you this Lent?” I’m willing to bet that most of us never consider that question. For many of us, Lent is about what we’re doing – mostly what we’re “giving up”. Lent becomes a contest with ourself to see if we can make it the whole season without giving in. And we reward ourself by overindulging at Easter because we made it! When Lent is reduced to the acts of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving – with no other end in mind – then we really miss the whole point of Lent. We end up spending 40 days going through an exercise that amounts to … a 40-day exercise.

About three weeks ago, I seriously injured my arm. I was at work and was carrying some things when, suddenly, I felt a surge of electricity run through my arm and I dropped what I was carrying. I knew immediately that it was bad – bad enough to require surgery. I had damaged a major muscle and found myself broken in a way that I couldn’t fix. My wife picked me up from work and we headed straight to my doctor’s office. The next day and a half were spent seeing doctors, getting x-rays, pre-admitting for surgery, talking with insurance companies, and waiting. Thankfully, the surgeon was able to squeeze me in to his schedule just two days after the injury. I began that day well before daybreak, showered with surgical scrub, showed up right on time at the outpatient clinic, filled out even more paperwork, and signed the consent forms. In the end, though, none of what I did fixed me. Sure, I had to do lots of stuff, but I had to rely on the doctor to put me back together. My arm is now beginning to heal – not because I filled out some form, but because a skilled surgeon fixed what what was broken.

What we do for Lent is not the point of Lent. What God does is the point of Lent. We all find ourselves broken in a way that we can’t fix. It’s what we call the fallen human condition and none of us are exempt from it. We need to be healed and restored, but no matter what, we can’t do it by ourselves – we need God for that part. We have our part to do, but it will be Him who ultimately puts us back together. Lent is sort of like those two days before my injury and my surgery – we have to wake up (recognize that we’re broken!), clean up (fasting and confession!), show up (prayer!), and sign the consent form (give God permission to do what only He can do!).

The Last Supper, Master of Portillo (c. 1525)
The Last Supper, Master of Portillo (c. 1525)

In Luke’s Gospel, we read the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem during the time of Passover. He sends some of his disciples ahead to prepare a room for the meal (Luke 22:12). We all know the significance of that meal – it’s the one we call “the Last Supper”, the one we recall on Holy Thursday. It’s at that meal that Jesus institutes the Priesthood. It’s at that meal that He gives His command to serve, which He demonstrates by His own example of washing the feet of the disciples. The disciples that had been sent ahead were given an important job – prepare the room. They cleared a space, set the room, prepared a meal, and served it – but it was Jesus who did the real work!

We are often invited and allowed to play a role in God’s work – and often it is by preparing the room. We do this at Mass – we set flowers, light candles, sing songs, read Scripture, exchange a sign of peace, and so on. But Jesus does the real work! We set the space for Him to show up! In the end, it is not about what we do, but what HE does.

And so it is with Lent. Give something up for Lent – so that Jesus can fill up the space left empty through your fasting. Pray more during Lent – so that Jesus may transform your life. Give to the poor – so that Christ may meet you through them. Lent is about preparing room for Jesus to meet you in the deepest part of your heart, where He can heal and transform you. What you do for Lent matters only to the extent that it makes room for God to do the real work.

If you want this Lent to matter, look past the stuff you’re doing. Look at what God is doing. Don’t rush back to business as usual when we reach Easter – that’s likely when He is finally able to begin the real work once you’ve cleared some room for Him.

So, what is God doing for you this Lent?

____

Images: PD-US

Divorce Affected Me, Even Though It Wasn’t Supposed To

Guest post by Anonymous

I was seven when my entire world changed.

The life I knew, the life I thought was coming. Gone.

You may be thinking… gosh, what kind of awful tragedy happened to this girl? Abuse? Tragic accident? Death of a loved one? Abandonment? Terrible medical diagnosis?

None of those.

Divorce.

My parents separated. And divorced. Their marriage ended. A whole new life began.

I just want to make a quick disclaimer – this is my story. This is one perspective of a now-adult child of divorced parents. I am in no way intending to offend, shame, judge or cause a raucous with anyone who is divorced or other adult children of divorce. I am only sharing my story because, more often than not, the children are not allowed to speak. If the parents have moved on and are good, then the children are, too?! Not necessarily. Please keep all of that in mind as you continue to read and/or comment.

I was playing with my friends in the cul-de-sac, and my mom called me over – she was sobbing. She and my dad were standing in the doorway and told be me they were getting divorced.

Let’s remember, I am 7 years old. I have no idea what this means. I’m sure they tried to explain it to me the best they could, but let’s be honest, I just wanted to get back to playing with my friends. Much to their embarrassment, I ran off to my friends yelling, “We’re having a divorce! We’re having a divorce!”

The next thing I knew, my dad was sleeping in the guest room for a while. At 7, time is a bit deceiving, so he could have been there for a week or a few months. For all I knew, that’s what divorce was. Dad sleeping in another room. Eventually, my dad moved out and moved in with his girlfriend. My mom and I moved up the street to a new home. Oh. This is divorce.

A short time after, I took my first trip to Dad’s house. He picked me up, and I left my mom behind. As exciting as it was to finally be with my dad, I remember feeling so sad that my mom couldn’t come with me.

Source

My parents’ divorce was one of the “good” ones, so I was told and witnessed – and believed – my entire life. Compared to the horror stories that I heard from other family members and friends, I suppose it’s true. There was minimal fighting (I can count on one hand the number of times I remember intense blow-ups), straight forward custody arrangements, child support paid on time, memories made with both parents, relationships built, life went on.

My parents worked really hard (thank the Lord) to put me at the center. I lived with my mom, and saw my dad every other weekend and alternate holidays. They communicated about school. Dad showed up to almost all of my swim meets, even on the weekends I wasn’t with him. Mom encouraged me to talk to my dad about the “tough” things that I would have rather ignored. Truly, I am so grateful for all of that. Because, it could have been a lot worse.

Eventually, I went to college, had a beautiful conversion to the Catholic faith, graduated from nursing school, landed a great job at one of the top pediatric facilities in the country, did mission work, lived overseas, bought a home, and so many other wonderful things. From the outside, my parents’ divorce looks as if it had no impact on my life.

Yet, when I was living overseas, doing some long-term mission work, I was stripped away from all that I knew, all that was familiar, all that was keeping me comfortable. I was so overwhelmed with life (thinking that I was just not able to handle the mission work), that I had to leave. I had to figure out what was going on. Eventually, I sought therapy and realized I was depressed and struggled with a bit of anxiety. I had some deep, deep wounds that needed some healing, and that stripping away of all that I knew exposed them in a way that I couldn’t ignore anymore.

It didn’t take long to realize that those wounds had everything to do with my parents’ divorce. It affected me deeply. More than I ever thought was even possible.

And I was furious. I was so proud that I had a good and successful life that wasn’t damaged by divorce! It was “easy” and not messy, little drama. My parents were healed! I had good relationships with both of them! Things were good and fine. I was good and fine.

But, I wasn’t. And, really… it wasn’t. Things weren’t “good” or “fine.”

The divorce affected me, even though it wasn’t supposed to, according to… everyone.

I couldn’t stop it from hurting me. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t good enough. I carried that shame for a long time.

I had no idea until recent years (decades after the divorce) that I was even allowed to not like it. That I was allowed to be upset. That I was allowed to feel pain from it. That I didn’t have to like going back and forth to my dad’s (of course I liked seeing/being with my dad). Or that it was appropriate to feel confused about my parents getting along so well, yet they couldn’t stay married and be together.

Since both of my parents had moved on and were fine, I suppose I realized early on that I had to be “fine” with it, too. Plus, there was nothing I could do about it, anyway. So, I just had to deal, which I did, for 20 years.

At almost 8 years old, I started providing incentives for my mom to not cry for a whole day. This only happened a few times right after the divorce, but it is amazing what will affect kids and what won’t. In a way, it was when I became “responsible” for how my mom reacted and felt. I never wanted to do anything to upset her. I didn’t want to add to her stress. This has affected aspects of our relationship throughout the years.

I never wanted to upset my dad. If he could stop loving mom and leave, then he surely could stop loving me.

I struggle with handling my own emotions, as I didn’t really learn how to handle them correctly since I was so worried about upsetting my mom and dad, and that’s all I was ever concerned about. I was a people pleaser. I was the nurturer, taking care of others. I got detention one time in all of my schooling. I worked hard to get good grades. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I didn’t. I never wanted to rock the boat.

Big decisions were agonizing for me and I carried that into adulthood. I was afraid of making the wrong decision, which could then upset or disappoint my parents. My 7 year old self would fear that they would be upset and/or leave. Now as an adult, I desire to be married and have a family, yet putting myself out there is a challenge. The fear of loving someone, being vulnerable and then having them leave is very real.

This is my reality. This is the reality of many, so I have learned very recently.

Source

Divorce is a loss. It’s death of a marriage. Death of family. Death of what life was. Death of what life could have been. And with most deaths, you grieve. You feel the pain. You take time to grieve that loss. But, divorce? No way! These things don’t affect children, right? How many children right now are not being allowed to grieve the separation and death of their parents’ marriage? How many adults are out there who never knew they were allowed to grieve?

There is no life that is without suffering. There is no life that is without pain. My life is no different. Your life is no different. It’s what we do with these sufferings and pain that matters. Will we take time to heal? What can we learn? How can we grow? What beauty do we see?

The very fact that I can even put all of this into words is an amazing thing. It really shows me how much I have healed, how much I have learned, how much grace the Lord has truly provided me.

I haven’t figured it all out. I don’t have perfect relationships with my parents. I am still healing. I am still learning. But, mostly, I am still hoping. I am living a beautiful life. The Lord has wonderful and amazing plans for me, and I am loved and adored by Him. I am confident in His love and His grace to continue transforming my heart.

 

 

 

Anonymous is a single Catholic woman in her 30s, striving daily to seek God and all things orange.

Marian Battle Plan for World Peace: Consecration and Salvation

Last year, I finished Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC’s book, The Second Greatest Story Ever Told.

I am sure some of you know about his book 33 Days to Morning Glory sold by the Marian Fathers. The Marian book talks about Marian consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Pope St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta.

In The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, Fr. Gaitley talked about how they printed 1 million Spanish copies of the Marian book and gave 100,000 for free to Mexico.

This was very important because the drug war there led to a lot of killings. One reason why there were so many killings is because of their devotion to “Santa” Muerte, aka “Saint” of Death. The devotion is practiced by gruesome killings. They do this to gain power from the demonic spirits.

He said that this was very important because Marian Consecration in the US and Mexico is being promoted by their bishops etc to combat the killings and abortion. The Mexican bishops consecrated their entire dioceses to Mama Mary.

Does Marian Consecration work? Yes! How do we know? Let me give you two concrete examples in recent history.

Before WWII, Mama Mary got St Maximilian Kolbe to promote Marian consecration throughout Poland. Through this, she strengthened her children for the coming war. The Poles were heroically charitable and generous even in the midst of inhumane persecution and oppression. St Maximilian also went to Nagasaki, Japan to promote Marian consecration there. He also passed by Manila en route back to Poland. Notice anything about these places? Warsaw, Poland and Manila were the most devastated cities of World War II. Nagasaki was the site of the atomic bomb. Mama Mary sent him to prepare the places that would be most devastated by promoting Marian Consecration.

In more recent history; my country, the Philippines, received the best proof of this during the 1987 EDSA People Power Revolution.

In 1985, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines dedicated the year as a Marian Year. All throughout the country, there would be posters of Mama Mary. There would be conferences about Marian spirituality. Parishioners were encouraged to pray the Rosary.

This renewed devotion to Mother Mary was in the midst of Martial Law, Marcos’ dictatorship where thousands were arbitrarily abducted, tortured and killed.

From February 21 until 25, 1986, thousands of people congregated along EDSA street. In the face of tanks and soldiers, they prayed the Rosary, asking for Mama Mary’s intercession for peace in the land. They offered flowers to the soldiers. And miraculously, there was no bloodshed. The soldiers lowered their weapons and accepted the flowers. The dictator Marcos fled to Hawaii. Peace and democracy was restored to the Philippines.

Our Lady of EDSA (Our Lady of Peace)
Our Lady of EDSA (Our Lady of Peace)

It remarkable that EDSA is short for Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, “Epiphany of the Saints.” Yes, this was its name even before the peaceful revolution! The day that manifested the power of everyday saints and Mama Mary’s protection and intercession.

In the world today, there is much confusion and chaos. ISIS, Syrian war in the Middle East. Migrant crisis and economic uncertainty in Europe. Abortion and euthanasia in the United States and Canada. The genocide of drug suspects in the Philippines. In the midst of so much uncertainty, the only way the world can find peace is if it turns with trust to Mama Mary. If the Catholics throughout the world consecrated themselves to Mama Mary, her Immaculate Heart would triumph once more.

Remember that this was her promise at Fatima: that if Russia was consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, the world would find peace. St John Paul II accomplished this at Fatima on March 25, 1984. But now our Lord and our Lady are calling us to do the same. We can find peace and healing if we consecrate ourselves to Mother Mary, entrusting ourselves to her perfect care; she will bring peace back to the world as only the gentlest of mothers could.

So now as we near the 100th anniversary of Fatima, I encourage everyone to make take advantage of this special season of grace. Pray the Rosary and consecrate yourselves to Mama Mary. As she has shown throughout history, she can bring about peace in the midst of the greatest adversities. And should God permit us to suffer, she will give us the grace, courage and strength to love one another as Christ loves us on the Cross.

Images: PD-US

____

Leia Go is a Filipina law student. She graduated in 2011 with an AB in Interdisciplinary Studies, focusing on Literature and Philosophy from Ateneo de Manila University (Loyola Schools). Her patron saints are Mama Mary, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and Saint Faustina. She has been a lector and altar server in her schools’ campus ministry offices since high school. She also loves volunteering at the Good Shepherd Sisters baby orphanage and is discerning a vocation to religious/consecrated life.

Healer of Souls

Over the past week, the Gospel readings have contained many scenes of healing from Jesus’s public ministry. We know that Jesus performed many miraculous healings during His life and continues to do so today. The healing springs of Our Lady of Lourdes, whose feast we celebrated on Saturday, have brought about countless healings that have baffled doctors and defied human understanding. We know that Jesus’s healing power is still active today. But reading about all these healings also raises an uncomfortable question: What about the people who don’t receive physical healing? What about the people who make pilgrimages to Lourdes, seeking a cure, and leave with no physical change? What about saints like Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who prayed constantly and yet suffered an excruciating death? How do we reconcile the fact that God allows some people to be freed entirely from the burden of their disease with the reality that many who pray desperately for healing still suffer and die?

We can begin to understand this mystery through the story of Jesus healing the paralytic:

And when he returned to Caper′na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

—Mark 2:1–12

Jesus does eventually heal this man, but His first action shocks everyone in the room: He forgives the man’s sins. This is not why the people went to such lengths to bring him before Jesus. Not only was this not what they were asking of Him, it was an act that seemed blasphemous! How could He forgive sins? But Jesus did this both to reveal His divinity and to put first things first. The people were asking for a physical healing, but Jesus wouldn’t settle for just that. He knew that unless this man received forgiveness of sins, unless he received the healing of his soul, he would never be truly healed. Jesus’s ability to make the man walk again is a manifestation of His healing power, but the most miraculous thing about this story is that the man’s sins were forgiven. That is the part that matters most. Jesus was asked to perform a quick fix—to heal just the man’s body—but He gave the man what he didn’t know he needed, healing him inside and out.

Some are granted both spiritual and physical healing, some just spiritual—but that spiritual healing is the greater priority, the most important thing. Unless our souls are healed and our sins forgiven, we are unwell, and if we are healed interiorly, we can bear any physical suffering. We can ask for healing and confidently expect our prayer to be answered: for regardless of the path we are called to follow, whether we are to give God glory through allowing Him to heal us physically or by offering up our sufferings, He will heal our souls, and His grace will shine through us. If our story is not to be one of miraculous healing, then He wants to give us the grace to bear our sufferings with joy and recognize their great purpose. If we earnestly ask to be healed, He will not fail to give us the interior healing that transcends any physical maladies. Ultimately, Jesus wants us to be healed both spiritually and physically; it pains Him to see us suffer. He wants us to be physically healed, too, but He also knows that we will certainly find physical healing in Heaven, and sometimes He uses our sufferings to help us—and the other souls for whom we offer our sufferings—to get there. Let us look to Pier Giorgio Frassati, who despite his terrible illness never wavered in his joy. He was not granted physical healing, but his soul was fully restored and awakened, and because of that he was able to see even his trials through the lens of grace. The promise of healing in the Gospel stories is there for each of us. When we haven’t found the cure that we’d hoped for, we don’t need to despair or worry that we will be forgotten. We are not forgotten. Everyone’s story is different, but He desires each of us to receive the most precious of gifts: interior healing of the soul, forgiveness of sins, and the promise of Heaven.

Lessons from a Lent Past

Being in the thick of Lent, I’ve been reflecting on Lents past and how differently I approach Lent now. Lent the year I was sixteen immediately came to mind—it was the first one I approached with any type of maturity. So I offer this recollection as a hopeful reminder that life gets better and that even when powerless in addiction, even when no one understands, God truly has the power to heal.

Sixteen, what a year—many big things happened in my life, among them that I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, I was completely addicted to masturbation, and I found out that masturbation is a mortal sin. There were many life-altering events that year, but nothing was more shattering than already struggling in the undercurrent of addiction and then being crushed by a tidal wave saying I was going to hell for something I no longer had any control over. I could not let that happen. I would not go to hell. So without any resources or support or know-how, I did the only thing I could think of: I gave up masturbation for Lent.

Previously my Lenten sacrifices consisted of giving up different candies or cracking my knuckles or other such things appropriate to younger ages, but that Lent was different, that Lent I was not giving up something I loved but something I knew was holding me back from Love (and, coincidentally, love). That Lent I was scared, unsure, but determined. I also decided to begin reading the Bible from start to finish (and this has sparked my now typical Lenten routine—give something up and add a spiritual practice).

That was all well and good until my parish priest said from the pulpit that we should be in Lent together as families, that all family members should share what they are giving up or doing for Lent to keep accountable or to choose something we could all do as a family. I almost broke out into a cold sweat in my pew. My parents knew of my addiction to masturbation as “my problem” and I was not in the habit of telling them about the depth of my problem. I wanted to keep this Lent under wraps. But while I was wolfing down my omelet and cheese danish at breakfast, my mom looked at me and asked what I was doing for Lent. I scrambled and came up with giving up cracking my knuckles, swearing, and snacking between meals, to my mom’s disappointed but consenting, “Okay.” I was off the hook.

Until I went for a cookie a few hours later. Until I cracked my knuckles while helping prepare dinner. Until I cursed when I found more homework due the next day that I had forgotten about. Then I realized that this Lent was truly going to be different than any other Lent.

I quit my addiction to masturbation cold turkey and was keeping it a secret and then, as a show for my mom, I was breaking the habit of cracking my knuckles, watching my mouth (which admittedly was a very good thing), and was skipping snacks while at home (although what happened at school stayed at school). Truth be told, I remember next to nothing about those forty days. All I remember was feeling stressed, pressured, and generally out of my mind. But whatever happened that Lent, I did not break, I did not fall, and I did not give up. I did not realize until that Lent that I could be strong.

I fell back into my addiction after that Lent, but what I did gain was a thirst for truth, understanding, and healing. A thirst I have not lost today. A thirst that drives me closer to God every day. And I’m not afraid of my own weaknesses and limitations anymore because I am in love with a God who has none. When I was sixteen, I found that I was made for more than what I had been allowing myself to live in, and I wanted more life. Holiness is pure, true life. That’s what I wanted when I was sixteen and fought my addiction for the first time, and that’s what I want now. May this Lent purge us of whatever death we have been living in and open us to true life.

 

A version of this post originally appeared on my now defunct personal blog, The Fetal Theologian

Abortion…And The Pain in Our Society

cryAbortion is one of those topics that make people really, really uncomfortable.  Nothing destroys the conversation at a pleasant weekend barbeque more instantly than talk of the morality of abortion. A couple of incidences recently made me consider why it might be that the topic is so divisively painful and I thought they were worth sharing.

If you approach a train station on a weekday afternoon, chances are you will have a complimentary copy of the MX newspaper flung into your hands. There are regularly articles in the MX commenting on moral/ethical issues so I often text in a couple of sentences for the feedback pages. A while ago I sent in a comment regarding a story they ran about hundreds of mothers in India giving their baby girls sex change operations to make them males. I questioned which was worse, the goings on in India, or, the 90,000 annual abortions taking place in Australia. The message was published and expectedly attracted a barrage of messages both for and against abortion. To the credit of the newspaper they published messages on both sides for several days and in those days there was a definite progression of thought. Initially there were angry messages that the ‘foetus’ is not a human life, following that there were messages from others outlining how science unequivocally states that the unborn baby is indeed human. And lastly there were messages which stated that even if the unborn baby was ‘human’ it was certainly not a ‘person’. In reading the messages what struck me was the length people would go to justify the notion that abortion could somehow be acceptable.

The second incident was also a few months ago when the director of Family Life International Australia, Paul, was taking calls on a popular talkback station about the work they do in praying and offering material support outside abortion clinics. One woman named Sarah, called in to speak to him. She was obviously angry at what was being said and she explained that she was now a mother of three children but before she was married she fell pregnant and was simply “not ready to be a mother”. As part of his response, Paul pointed out to Sarah that actually she became a mother with that first pregnancy and that she was in fact the mother of four children. It was obvious that with those words Paul had struck a chord Sarah and Sarah’s voice because audibly upset as she rejected the notion that she was the mother of an aborted child.

What became obvious in both those incidences was how raw the issue is in our society and how much people will do what they can to block out the reality. It truly is the unspoken about elephant in the room. Even though there is a lack of consistent data around abortions numbers it is estimated that just since 1994, there have been close to 1.3 million abortions in Australia. This means there is on average one aborted baby for every three babies born.

What that figure of 1.3 million equals is a lot of hurt in our society, it equals a whole lot of people who have been touched by an abortion. That is a lot of mothers (and a lot of fathers) who may be feeling a whole lot of sorrow, guilt and hurt. Is it little wonder then that so many people in society need to (indeed have to) for their own mental well being, deny that abortion is actually the death of a young human life? Can you imagine if 1.3 million mothers interiorised that the foetus they aborted yesterday, last month or 40 years ago was a human life with a beating heart, active brain and living soul? The grief in the streets would be unbearable. Australia’s total war dead is around 100,000 yet every year we lose close to that many Australians through abortion. I can’t help but wonder how many of 12 million anti-depressant scripts written each year in Australia are linked somehow to this silent tragedy.

The point is that condemnation of the objective act of abortion must always be swiftly followed by the mention of the subjective healing that is possible and available for those who have had an abortion. Abortion will always be wrong – the taking of an innocent human life can never be justified – but sadly, the baby is not the only life that is affected. Thankfully there are groups such as Rachel’s Vineyard which offer healing for the many hurting men and women who have been touched by abortion and suffer in some way with what is now referred to as post-abortion syndrome. We can only hope that those who suffer will seek out and undertake the necessary healing for their own well being and future happiness.