They say that we should be in the pursuit of happiness. You should do whatever makes you happy.
I see a problem with this thought process and here’s why:
Happiness is defined as the state of being happy
Let’s break that down a little further
Happy is defined as a feeling. Whereas state is defined as a particular condition or something is in at a specific time.
I think it’s important that we put this into context because that saying of “do whatever makes you happy” has become very prevelant making it seem like once you get that promotion, once you find your spouse, once you have children, etc – whatever it is that you think will make you happy, do it because that’s what you need.
Don’t shoot me down for disagreeing with this but we just looked at the definition.
Happiness is not an eternal thing. It’s not permanent. It is a temporary emotion depending on our feelings and circumstances at a specific time.
Feelings change from day to day and doing what makes you happy will not have the lasting effect that you were hoping for which will lead to discouragement and frustration.
So what can we do?
My pastor recently gave this great message on being joyful – no matter what. So let’s look at the definition of joy. There are several, but I want to focus on one.
Joy: a source or cause of delight
Joy is something internal that doesn’t base itself on our circumstances. Happiness is the opposite.
Paul from the Bible is a great example of being joyful despite your circumstances. He went through hardships far beyond what any of us can even fathom. Shipwrecks, beaten, snake bites, stoned, starved to name a few. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28) Yet, here he is writing from a jail cell to the people of Philippi talking about being joyful!
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.”
Philippians 3:1 NLT
He’s in jail! Do you think Paul is happy? I would say no. But he remains joyful because the source of his joy isn’t around him, but within him!
Paul understood what has long since fallen to the wayside in our pursuit to obtain happiness.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Seeking happiness is not a bad thing at all, but we need to remember that happiness is external and will never fill you long term with what your heart truly longs for.
It isn’t easy. Both my husband and I have been through trials recently and have had to keep this in mind. It is way too easy to lose focus on the source of your joy with all the things happening in our world, when the kids act up, the job drives you crazy, or you get a bad report from the doctor. But if you keep your eyes on Jesus, the true source of joy within your soul, He will take your burden and give you a peace beyond comprehension!
Eternal happiness is a fairytale, but eternal joy? Now that’s something that is achievable and something to strive for!