Loving and Divine Soul,
 
Let the choicest blessings of God and the masters be upon all of you. I take this opportunity to pray for you and send my best wishes to all of you as we celebrate Christmas and New Year. This week we bid goodbye to 2017 and welcome the New Year, 2018.
 
Usually we use the word "merry" with Christmas, and we use the word "happy" for the New Year. Merry means cheerful and lively, and happy refers to a feeling of contentment and pleasure. Past and future rests on the present. Yesterday and tomorrow depends upon today. It means we must be aware of how we spend our every moment of our lives. A moment becomes a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, and a lifetime. If we waste a single moment, ultimately we have wasted our lives. In the chain of life, when one link is weak, it can make the whole life weak. How can we be merry and happy during every moment?
 
The first key to happiness is to avoid looking for faults in others. Last year we decided to try to be free from our faultfinding natures, and now we can assess how we fared. The second key to happiness is to not judge others. Faultfinding and judging others are two sides of the same coin. Life is busy with discussing people, events, and even our clothes or food. We never hesitate to criticize others and judge them. If we had the power, we would not hesitate to punish others in many ways. This endless karmic play makes life miserable. Where is happiness?
 
The third key to lifelong happiness is to bring smiles to the faces of others. Swami Vivekananda said, "If you cannot help others with your two hands, pray for them and bless them with your two hands." If we cannot help others, at least we should not hurt them. The masters say that the hands that help and serve are holier than the lips that sing and chant. We should take every opportunity to put smiles on the faces of others with our compassionate, loving, and serving attitude. This will create more happiness in our lives. One who is sincere and hardworking is never sad or depressed.
 
We must learn to use every moment of our lives. We should always know our friends and enemies. There is no greater enemy than laziness and procrastination, and no greater friend than effort and endeavor. Precious time is wasted with laziness and procrastination. We should be careful, cautious, and conscious.
 
I want to conclude with the words of a Himalayan saint. He told me in my youth when I was wandering in the Himalayan valleys, beta, vyast raho our mast raho: "My child, keep yourself busy and active and at the same time cheerful." It has remained in my heart like a mantra.
 
Again on the occasion of this divine week, I pray to God to give us strength so we can be free from our weaknesses and aberrations and make our every moment fruitful and productive, not only for ourselves, but also for others.
 
Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 
With Love,
Prajnanananda

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