Happiness; we all want it, we all pursue it. My daddy expressed his thought on happiness this way, “We howl and chase after happiness like a hound dog trying to catch a rabbit.”
So what is happiness? Certainly it can be elusive, here one minute, gone the next. The new car or home we purchase brings a sense of happiness; but as the newness wears off, our happiness fades. The birth of our children brings happiness. But soon, those midnight feedings take their toll and our happiness is short lived.
If you look around you find happiness is a rare commodity. The more we chase it, the more futile the hunt becomes. We are like the howling hound dog that never catches his prey. I wonder if most people would recognize happiness if they did catch up to it. Maybe, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing wrong. We have a constitutional right to pursue happiness but that doesn’t guarantee we will find it.
Do you even know what makes you happy? Is it money, friends, possessions, success? Many have never taken time to discover what it is that makes them happy. Chances are if you were to ask someone what would make them happy you would likely get a list of the same things I mentioned above. Most people have never really considered what gives long term happiness.
A successful person by society’s standard isn’t necessarily a happy person. However, I believe a successful person is always a happy person by the Bible’s Standard. Just because a happy person doesn’t drive the latest car, or have the finest home in the development, or buy their clothes from the most upscale store doesn’t mean that person isn’t successful. It only means that person understands material things are not part of the equation for producing happiness.
Our happiness has nothing to do with our possessions, our environment, or even our health for that matter. Our happiness comes from a source that is independent of all those influences. Genuine happiness is a state of contentment – a peace of mind – a sense of well-being no matter the circumstances going on in our life.
The Apostle Paul was a man with few friends, no possessions, serving a jail term and facing death sentence. Yes, he was happy. How could he be happy in the midst of this storm in his life?
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:10-13, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.”
If we could master the contents of those four verses, we would find it takes much less to make us really happy. Paul had learned to be content and that contentment was the number one ingredient to his happiness. Want to be truly happy?
(1) Stop comparing our life and possessions with other people. There will always be houses bigger, better and more expensive than the one we have. There will always be people with much more money than we have. When we continually compare ourselves to those who are better, bigger, richer, more talented and better looking, we’ll always walk under the cloud of unhappiness.
(2) Accept the fact there are some things about our life we can’t change no matter how much we want to, so quit worrying about it. Contentment comes when we accept we cannot change everything about life.
(3) Contentment is based on making Christ the very heart and center of our life. Jesus has our best interests at heart. Everything He does in our life is for our eternal benefit. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed His disciples the highway to happiness. He promises that all who faithfully walk this highway will possess a happiness the world cannot take away.
John A. Redhead in his book, Living All Your Life”, said there are three kinds of blessings: pleasure, joy, and happiness. Pleasure comes from satisfying our physical senses. Joy comes from our association with others. But happiness results from a right relationship with God.