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Pope Francis Shares His 15 Essential Habits for Living a Good Life in His New Book. How Many Are You Already Practicing?

Pope Francis Shares His 15 Essential Habits for Living a Good Life in His New Book. How Many Are You Already Practicing?

By Pope Francis
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Today, with so many kinds of media available to us, we are well-informed—even over-informed. Is this a bad thing? No. It can be good and useful, but we also run the risk of information overload. We acquire so much information that sometimes we do not know what to do with it all. Young people risk turning into “museums,” storing up all sorts of facts but not knowing what to do with them. We do not need young people to be museums, we need them to be wise! You might ask, “Father, how do I become wise?” This is another challenge: the challenge of love.

What is the most important subject to study at university? What is the most important subject to learn in life? To learn to love. This is the challenge that life sets before you today. Learn to love. Do not just accumulate information without knowing what to do with it. Through love, however, all that information can bear fruit. For this to happen, Scripture proposes a serene and tranquil path that relies on the three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. The three of them work in harmony: what you think, what you feel and what you do. All the information you have can travel to the heart and stir it into action. And this gets done harmoniously.


1. Just think: where God planted you, there is hope! Always have hope.

2. Jesus gave us a light that shines in the darkness: defend it, protect it. That light is the greatest treasure you have been granted.

3. Do not surrender to the night. Always remember that the first enemy to be conquered lies not outside but within. Do not make room for bitter, obscure thoughts. This world is God’s first miracle and He placed the grace of wonder in our hands. Faith and hope advance side by side.

4. Cultivate ideals. Live for something that goes beyond your mortality. And if, one day, you are presented with a hefty bill to pay for these ideals, do not stop carrying them in your heart. Faith attains all.

5. Believe in the existence of lofty and beautiful truths. Trust in God the Creator; in the way the Holy Spirit propels all things towards goodness, trust in the embrace of Christ that awaits all men and women at the end of their lives. Believe, for He awaits you. The world moves forward thanks to men and women who broke down walls, built bridges, dreamed and believed even when they were surrounded by words of derision.

6. Never for a moment think that your struggle is pointless. Life does not end in ruin: a seed of the absolute beats in our hearts. God does not let us down. He gave us hope in our hearts; He does not want to crush it with constant frustrations. Everything is born to flourish in an eternal Spring. Even us. God created us so we would flourish. This reminds me of the poem “The Almond Tree” by the great Greek poet Nikos Kazantzakis: “The oak tree said to the almond: Tell me about God. And the almond blossomed.”

7. Wherever you are, build! If you have fallen, get to your feet! Never stay down but rise up and allow others to help you get to your feet. If you are living your life sitting down, set out on a journey! If you are paralyzed by boredom, do good works! If you feel empty or demoralized, ask the Holy Spirit to fill that void yet again.

8. Work for peace among people. Do not listen to those who spread words of hatred and discord. Do not listen to those voices! As different as human beings may be, they were created to live together. If there is conflict, be patient: one day you will learn that every single person holds a fragment of truth.

9. Love all people. Love every single person for who they are. Respect everyone’s journey, be it smooth or troubled, because everyone has their own story. Each of us has our own unique story. Every child that is born is the promise of life, which always proves to be stronger than death. Every love that grows represents the power of transformation and a pining for happiness.

10. Above all else, dream! Do not be afraid to dream. Dream! Dream of a world still unknown, one yet to arrive. The strength of hope lies in the belief of a Creation that extends all the way to its definitive fulfillment, when God will be everywhere and in everyone. Men and women with great imaginations have brought scientific and technological discoveries to mankind; they have crossed oceans and walked on undiscovered lands. The men and women who have sown hope are the same who overcame slavery and brought better living conditions to all. Ponder these men and women.

11. Take responsibility for this world and for the life of every single person in it. Reflect on how each and every injustice against a poor person is like an open wound, one that lessens your dignity. Life does not end with you: other generations will come after us and more will follow them. Every day ask God to give you the gift of courage. Remember that Jesus conquered fear for us. He conquered fear! Even our most treacherous enemy is weak when faced with our faith.

12. When you stand in fear before one of life’s hardships, remember that you do not live for yourself alone. You were immersed in the mystery of the Trinity through Baptism; you belong to Jesus. And if one day you are scared or if you find yourself thinking that it is impossible to stand up to the vastness of evil, remember that Jesus lives inside you. Through you, He and His meekness want to conquer all of mankind’s enemies: sin, hatred, crime and violence.

13. Always have the courage of truth. At the same time, remember that you are not superior to anyone. Remember that! You are superior to no one. Even if you are the last person to believe in the truth, this is no reason to spurn the company of others. Even if you live in the complete silence of a monastery, bear the suffering of every human being in your heart. You are a Christian: through prayer you reconduct all to God. 

14. If you make a mistake and fall, get to your feet. Nothing is more human than making mistakes. But do not let your mistakes become a prison. Do not get trapped by your mistakes. The Son of God came to assist the sick, not the healthy; He came for you. And if you should err again in the future, do not be scared. Rise up again! And do you know why? Because God is your friend.

15. If you are stricken with bitterness, believe in all the people who work in the name of goodness. Their humility holds the seed of a new world. Spend time with people who have safeguarded their hearts as though they were children. Learn from all that is wonderful and nurture your sense of awe.

Live, love, dream, believe. And, with the grace of God, never despair.

Click here to get your copy!

Excerpted from A Good Life by Pope Francis (© 2024). Used with permission from Worthy Books, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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