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Requiem for Happiness?!

It might sound crazy what I’m about to say…but happiness is overrated. In our current culture happiness or the state of being happy, is the goal! Pharrell Williams masterfully created a song that captures this mindset perfectly. So catchy and danceable, I love it! But, if one’s personal happiness is the goal, then I am afraid that anarchy, hedonism, and narcissism are our ultimate end.

The problem with happiness is that it can be exceedingly self-serving. I know people who have abandoned their children for it. They walk away from good marriages because they’d be happier with a lover. Some are happiest not working hard, so laziness and total dependence on others is their goal. Sociopaths are most happy when killing, raping, and bringing harm to others.  Is that the ultimate goal?

Happy- is delighted, pleased, or glad over a particular thing. The very nature of happiness is that it is temporary. It is not a continual state of being. Get a car or house with glee and the moment something goes wrong, that temporary feeling disappears. The spouse that made you so happy will eventually, bother, frustrate, and hurt you. That is not a happy moment.

Even the United States Declaration of Independence says that we have a right to the pursuit of happiness, but our country’s founders knew that it was not a guarantee. Too many people believe that happiness is a right. It’s an entitlement that must be allowed, given or taken. So, forget about responsibility and commitment (they say), HAPPINESS is what life is about. It must be the guiding light of our lives, no matter how many people we harm by our selfishness. “As long as you’re happy” seems to be the mantra of our day.

Some would agree that I am right, and anytime you hurt someone else then it’s dirty happiness. But, the moment you are no longer hurting another then you’re good. I would argue that some of the happiest people are the addicted lost in their addiction. They are often not harming anyone else, just themselves. The truth is that our lives are not, solitary; we have a profound affect on others. No one has a life that doesn’t impact someone else. If that were not true, then we would not have suicide hotlines. If a person would be happiest dead, then let them. No, but that is not how we treat those who’d consider suicide. We try to give them enough hope to move forward in spite of their temporary unhappy situation. It’s because we know (if only in the back of our minds) that life can and usually will get better.

So, am I saying that happiness is a wasted pursuit? No. The point is that we have made it the litmus test for what is right and true, and that my friend is incorrect thinking. If life is a marathon, then happiness is not the finish line, but rather the brief water stations throughout the race that refresh us! When we see it as momentary, we can endure the lulls and valleys that will inevitably come, and occasionally remain for a while. Too often we feel like God has abandoned us when we are not in a particularly happy place. When happiness comes, AWESOME! Enjoy the moment, but don’t expect it to last forever, that is unrealistic. The goal should be to have a balanced life with a reasonable amount of happiness to inspire and encourage you along the way. That’s the cool part of being a Jesus follower, heaven is the only place were happiness is eternal, that’s why it’s called Heaven.

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