The Elusive Search for Happiness
The Apostle Paul wrote, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."1
Michael Josephson of Character Counts says, "Ask people [including] young people why they get high on drugs or alcohol or seek sex without intimacy or commitment, and they're likely to tell you it's fun and they just want to be happy. It's tempting to envy the life of fun-loving 'party animals,' 'playboys' and 'good-time girls' until one thinks about how they feel about themselves and their lives when they are alone without the hyped-up stimulation they seem to thrive on.
"It doesn't take a psychologist to realize that if happiness is the destination, these folks are on the wrong road. The problem is that the intense sensation of fun or feelings of pleasure experienced by a substance-induced buzz or an exciting sexual encounter are quickly replaced with a consuming sense of emptiness that drives a need to start all over to fill the vessel again. So each time drinkers, drug users or sex addicts discover that getting what they wanted isn't making them happy, they fall into the despondency conveyed in the famous Peggy Lee song: 'Is That All There Is?'
"People who make pleasure seeking the focus of their lives are like drug addicts who need continually stronger and more dangerous doses to get high.
"Happiness is different from fun and pleasure. It's a less intense but more durable feeling of well-being. It's not a continuous state. A good life is usually seasoned with moments of joy and despair, play and work, success and failure. Happiness is a kind of emotional resting place of quiet satisfaction with one's life. The art of living a happy life lies not in having more of what you want, but in getting better at enjoying what you have."2
To this wise advice from Michael I would add that perhaps a better word than "happiness" is "contentment," which comes from having peace within one's self. This comes from resolving past conflicts, forgiving all who have hurt us, maintaining peaceful relationships; from living in harmony with God's will and his moral laws, and above all, in finding peace with God, knowing that all our sins are forgiven and that we have God's gift of eternal life, which gives one a reason and purpose for living that is bigger than one's self.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to live in harmony with your will and your moral laws; with eternal values in mind; and with a God-given purpose. Help me to forgive all who have ever hurt me and never harbor bitterness or grudges towards anyone. And help me to keep growing in faith, love, and every grace so that my life will have meaning, purpose, and value for time and eternity. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
Note: To be sure your life is right with God see: www.actsweb.org/christian.
1. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV).
2. Michael Josephson, Character Counts. www.charactercounts.org