What is happiness for you? In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack used this quote from Rousseau – “Happiness is a good bank account, a good cook and a good digestion.” Jack went on to explain that Rousseau was not happy with many things of his day and died at age 66 of what might have been a stress induced stroke. Too many of us are on the same path as Rousseau.
There has been tons of stuff written about happiness – what it is and how to achieve it. There are T-shirts with happiness designs on them, many featuring Snoopy from the Charlie Brown comics. Snoopy is often used as the epitome of carefree happiness and a large emoji industry has grown up built upon creating variations of the well-known happy face emoji.
Happiness is a very personal thing. It is different for each of us and largely self-defined. It might be defined as being the absence of fears or concerns or other distractions in our minds. One has only to watch a young child playing contentedly by themselves to “see” happiness. Contentment is a synonym for happiness and a part of the definition of the root word happy.
Many of us seem to know more about being unhappy than we do about being happy. We don’t allow ourselves to feel happy because we focus too much on the things that we don’t have, which we imagine would make us happy. The entire advertising industry was built to play upon those feelings and to encourage us to continue to strive for that happiness by buying the products that they are selling. We tell ourselves, “I’d really be happy if only I had this new car or that bigger house or whatever shiny thing we see on TV”. Maybe we think that happiness awaits us at that next promotion level at work. Whatever it is; it nags at us and keeps us unhappy. For some there is unhappiness in their personal relationships because they have a nagging feeling that they would be happier with someone else.
So, how do we achieve contentment and happiness? First, we must strip away the concerns of the world for a moment and re-establish the foundation upon which we stand. We may find that we have wandered away from the solid foundation of our faith in Jesus and God out onto the shifting sands of human desires and concerns. Once we stop believing that God is always with us, knows what we need and will provide for our needs; we begin to let human thoughts about what we need and how to get those things drive our lives. We become unhappy with our lot in life and that unhappiness drives us further and further away from God. We must stop and re-center ourselves back on our faith in God.
If you re-center yourself on your faith, you will immediately find that you also have time to enjoy the relationships that you have with your family and friends. You will not be driven away from them by the unhappy pursuit of more stuff, but rather will re-discover the pleasures that you find in the love of others. You will find contentment with your life, rather than being driven to constantly strive for the next thing that seems to always just out of reach. Your faith will allow you to let go of the unhappy thoughts about what you don’t have and find joy and happiness in what you already have.
So, perhaps happiness is a good relationship with God; rather than a good bank account, a good cook and good digestion. At least that definition of happiness makes more sense and it is so easy to achieve, if you will just let God back into your life. You will find peace, rediscover that child-like feeling of contentment, and be happy again. What’s not to like about that?
So, take that pause. Stick your head up for a minute and think about what is driving you. Re-asses your current relationship with God. Is He off somewhere in the distance, somewhere in a church that you visit every so often; or, is he right here with you each and every day. Do you start each day with that little prayer that I like to use, “Not my will but thy will be done” or do you set your jaw and head out determined to face the world and its problems on your own? No matter what level of unhappiness you have sunken to, God is that beacon of light that you can still see off in the distance. Head towards His light. Happiness lives there.
Have a great and happy rest of the week.