(This Blog was originally a Facebook status post….gone too long!)
Happiness. Everybody wants it, but nobody seems to know how to get it…or even knows exactly what it is. The pursuit of happiness and the secret of life is the basis of snoopy cartoons and movies, country songs and the Declaration of our Independence. I guess it’s the reason people have hobbies, and money, it’s the reason why people fall in love, it’s the reason we go to war…happiness itself it’s an idea we worship.
All human hearts all seem to be programed with this unquenchable quest for happiness. Its an elusive talisman that promises to deliver meaning and joy to everyone’s humdrum lives, but it’s like a tricksy little fairy….and just when you think you are getting close enough to reach out and snatch it, happiness slips through your fingers and takes the form of another object or desire.
I just read this article in Phycology Today “What Happy People Do Differently.” The article addressed the fact that the secret of happiness is a concern of growing importance in the modern era. A study at the University of Virginia concluded that people from every corner of the globe rated happiness as being more important than other highly desirable personal outcomes, such as having meaning in life, becoming rich, and getting into heaven. Basically…people really, really want to be happy! The article then gives you six ways to live your life that will give you a slightly above average score on the happiness scale of life. 1. Be curious and take risks outside of your comfort zone. 2. Don’t sweat the small stuff, look at the big picture of life. 3 Be able to share in other peoples joy. 4. Acknowledge the fact that life disappoints and tolerate emotions, but don’t be controlled by them. 5. Developed a clear purpose for your life. 6. And finally… Realize that the pursuit of happiness is just a wild goose chase.
I also just read another book that provided the reflections of one man’s extreme pursuit of happiness. This guy wanted to figure out what would ultimately bring him joy in life, so he left no stone unturned in the quest of capturing this elusive thing called happiness.
First he tried drinking and partying….and these weren’t just dirty college frat parties or boring dinner parties, where the only the only highlight is an abundance of free booze. He threw some seriously awesome bashes, we are talking PAARTTY…complete with the never ending supplies of the best booze (and probably recreational drugs), incredible food, amazing venues, rock star performances and tons of celebrity guests. He found out the buzz didn’t last and this didn’t bring happiness. So he added women and sex. And he made sure he had everything that all women could offer, he made Hugh Heffner’s lifestyle look tame compared to his. He had thousands of the most beautiful women in the world as his playmates…to pleasure him in whatever way he desired. Still he wasn’t happy.
But knowing that was more than a party boy, he decided to make something of himself. And pouring himself into his work paid off and he became incredibly wealthy, but as he amassed more and more riches…he didn’t find happiness. However he didn’t give up, So he built himself massive opulent homes, planted vineyards and exotic gardens, bought extensive ranches and safari parks, he even bought other countries….just because he could…and was he happy? No not yet…Our man was also smart, very smart. He was in fact considered one of the wisest men in the world, so he poured himself into studying the mysteries of the universe…but the more he figured out… the more depressed he became.
So here is our wise, very powerful, unimaginably rich man with a thousand mistresses…drunk, depressed and unhappy. He came to the conclusion that pleasures in this life are just momentary, and we can spend our entire lives building a kingdom or making a name for ourselves, but then when we die we will be forgotten and just leave an inheritance to someone who doesn’t deserve it. A man who would deprive himself absolutely nothing if it promised some happiness, came to the conclusion that finding happiness in and of itself is impossible.
I find it so interesting that this article and book come to the same conclusion. The article in Psychology Today states the pursuit of happiness is fleeting, misguided and hedonistic. And the richest man to ever live on earth sums it all up as “Chasing after the wind.” However, Psychology Today called this growing concern for happiness a new phenomenon. It’s not a new thing. People since the beginning of time have been seeking and not finding happiness apart from God. My other source, the book by the wise, rich man also says ‘what come around goes around’ and ‘there is nothing new under the sun’… he is very right, because the article was written a month ago and the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon over three thousand years ago.