The pursuit of happiness is one of the inalienable rights listed in the U.S. Constitution and is arguably one of the most defining qualities of freedom. Regardless of how patriotic one may be, it’s quite understandable that pursuing happiness is not a uniquely American freedom, though there may be more options in America. Instead happiness is uniquely a human freedom, because people instinctively want to be happy. Everyone wants to be happy, and very many people spend their entire lives in search for happiness.
Unfortunately though, the freedom to find happiness is arguably the most difficult freedom to get a grasp on because we are not naturally happy people. If we were naturally happy, there wouldn’t be any need for the pursuit of happiness. In the world we live in today, happiness seems to be the most elusive of sorts among many people, especially young people. This intense feeling of dissatisfaction, or loneliness and hopelessness has very tragically caused several, young people especially, to become depressed and even end their own lives. This is a horrifying thing, when anyone, who has the all the potential in the world for greatness, cut their pursuit for happiness short.
This happiness that I’m writing about has nothing to do with interest based things that bring amusement or pleasure, but instead is defined by the concept of fulfillment and satisfaction in the individual human life. It’s the ability to find purpose that makes people happy. Another word for this happiness, commonly used among religious folks, is joy. We as people are purpose driven, and the goal of every persons life is to find fulfillment in life. Without purpose and without fulfillment, there is no satisfaction and there is no happiness and there is no joy. Without purpose and fulfillment in the human life, there is only sadness, anger, frustration, discontentment and, often times, confusion. Without purpose, life is in the most literal of senses, meaningless. So the question then remains, how can happiness be attained? Maybe you might even ask, “When I’ve got happiness, how do I know I’ve got it, and how do I keep it?” There are many different answers to this question, and I will attempt at articulating how I find happiness. Of course there will be those who disagree, and I have no problem with that; I believe we all have the natural freedom to find for ourselves what makes us happy.
Often people, especially in the freest of nations, attempt to find happiness in possessions and wealth. The gathering of property and wealth is quite a common avenue in which many venture throughout their journey to happiness. This assumed pathway to complete joy and life fulfillment is called Materialism. While there are many happy people who are wealthy, that satisfaction and fulfillment definitely isn’t found in their wealth. Let’s see why.
This is easy to understand by thinking of the, “Wealth theory”, in the realm of covetousness and contentment. The concept that attaining more stuff makes one happy is self-contradicting. You see, if the only way to be happy is to have more things, and happiness is the concept of being satisfied; you can never be happy because you are never satisfied. There’s never enough. This is called covetousness. There certainly is nothing wrong with being wealthy and wealth is definitely not inherently evil, but it cannot be your source of fulfillment. A life enthralled with coveting, is a life predominantly frustrated and disappointed. There may be some happiness in materialism, but it is always short lived because there is always more to be had.
I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t want to be loved. There are loners in the world, but it’s not particularly common. People are social beings and naturally want to be around other people. We all find company of others as comforting and especially comforting when with we are accompanied by those we love and are fond of. There is nothing at all wrong with the desire to be loved, and there definitely is a sense of fulfillment and completion when we share our love with others, particularly with spouses.
However, it can be quite disappointing to place all of our sense of fulfillment and happiness in another person. The responsibility that you give to someone when you expect them to make you happy is so great that it can cause harm to that person, and can even damage or ruin a relationship. This is so, because relationships are not about what you can get out of a companion, but about what you can give to that companion. There is no satisfaction in being a taker. It’s the same concept as before, except this would be more on an emotional level than a physical level.
Again, there definitely is happiness in finding a life companion, but that’s a pool that can be drained to the last drop. Many people who marry to find happiness often end up hurt, in immense emotional distress, and depressed. The relationship that they relied so heavily on to give them that satisfaction that every life needs, often ends in divorce. Some even are so desperate for satisfaction through a relationship that they enter into emotionally, and even physically, abusive relationships that they were never meant to be in. Knowing how common this is, be very careful that you don’t seek a relationship for the sake of finding your whole life’s meaning and purpose. People who are naturally purpose deprived cannot give purpose to other people who are also purpose deprived. It’s like tapping into a well that has no water, or building a house on quick sand.
Being an independent individual is definitely the right thing to do. Relying completely on other people to take care of you is irresponsible and lazy. It’s where we get the concept of socialism from…(insert sarcastic glance). We should definitely all be self-dependent people, and should all be individually responsible for our own wellbeing. There is unmistakably a sense of accomplishment that comes naturally with being self-reliant. However, remembering that nobody a naturally fulfilled person, it would be a mistake to then be self-reliant for happiness. This may not make sense, but you are not capable of making yourself happy.
People with a high level of independence also tend to have a high level of arrogance, and arrogance is a self-destructive characteristic; so be careful you don’t mistake arrogance for independence. This goes back to what was said earlier, happiness deprived people cannot fill people with the happiness that they do not themselves already have. It’s simply impossible. Even you can drain yourself dry emotionally and physically. You are capable of being so self-dependent that you destroy yourself.
Now, you might be thinking, “Tim, that’s stupid. Of course you can be happy by being self-reliant. There are several independent people who are happy.” Yes, you’re right there are independent people who are happy, but there are also those who aren’t independent and are happy. So what is it that makes people happy? Who gives fulfillment to life, if it can’t be from others, yourself of possessions?
THE ONLY TRUE SOURCE OF HAPPINESS
The previously mentioned three failing avenues of happiness all have one thing in common; they are all circumstantially based. The materialist cannot guarantee wealth; the relationship reliant cannot guarantee themselves a relationship, or even a good one at that; the self-reliant can’t guarantee their own independence. Each avenue is driven by circumstance, and when the circumstances change happiness often leaves. Don’t let your circumstances control you, be separate from your circumstances so that when they take a nose dive for the worse, you’re happiness doesn’t tank with it.
So what do I invest my effort for finding fulfillment in? I find my fulfillment, and satisfaction in God. There is no greater source of joy and happiness than God. Every other source has its limits before the temporary satisfaction is consumed, but God is limitless. Don’t take my word for it, let God speak for Himself:
- Psalm 144:15 “…happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”
- Psalm 146:5 “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord.”
- Proverbs 16:20, “…whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.”
No matter rich or poor, loved or alone, strong or weak, able or unable, God is capable of being the fortress for happiness that can reach beyond the boundaries of circumstances. If you’re worried about finances, read Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” If you’re worried about finding love, read Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Why is it God that gives us purpose in life? Because God is your Creator and you are his creation, and no Creator creates without an intended outcome. God’s intentions when He created you, was to have a relationship with you. He created you so that you could rely on Him and He could provide for you. He created you to show you His love and His power. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” What that means is, if you make God all you want, God will then give you His desires, and His desires will become yours; and when you desire what God desires He will see to it that they are done.
If you want to find true happiness in life, put the God of the Bible first in your life, and everything else will fall in its place. The Bible says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” You’ll be content with your possessions or the lack there of; your love life will be what it ought to be and won’t be self-imploding; and your confidence won’t have to be in yourself, but can easily be placed in the more capable hands of God.