In my earlier article, I shared about how I came to the decision to let go of happiness in my life. In this article, I want to get more into the discussion regarding what it means to chase after happiness in our lives. In order to understand how we are going to make a paradigm shift from, we have to look at what our perception is.
Chasing after happiness
The current perception (regardless of one’s faith in Jesus Christ or lack thereof) in our own society is that we feel the necessity to chase after that which may bring us happiness. Now, do not get me wrong here. There is a reason we find happiness in the things we get and acquire while we are living in this world. There is nothing wrong with establishing goals and achieving our goals. There is a natural inherit sense of accomplishment that creates a well-spring of pride and happiness. The problem lies within the contingency that only when we have obtained particular things in our lives, then are we able to get into a place of being happy, finding contentment and creating a sense of joy (or the ability to enjoy life once we get what makes us happy).
Zig Ziglar stated this:
People are basically the same the world over. Everybody wants the same things – to be happy, to be healthy, to be at least reasonably prosperous, and to be secure. They want friends, peace of mind, good family relationships, and hope that tomorrow is going to be even better than today.
Again, there is nothing wrong with this idea. We all are wanting to seek fulfillment, purpose and meaning in our lives. Where the error is in how we attach a sense of “I will only be happy if/when…”. Take for instance the sampling of statements:
- I will be happy when I am able to get employment
- I will be happy when my spouse/partner will change
- I will be happy when I get a better vehicle
- I will be happy if my children start actually listening
- I will be happy when I get a better job
- I will be happy when….
Take a moment and think about some of the statements you may have said out loud in conversations or within your own private thoughts. We place the emphasis on defining when we will be happy based on what needs to happen in our lives to gain fulfillment of that sense of happiness.
In his book, “Our search for Happiness”, Russell M. Ballard (General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared the following about his experience flying with three wealthy executives:
… it became clear that, although these were men of good will who had done many good things in the world with their wealth, the most important thing in life to the billionaire was to accumulate more and more money, which appeared to be the source of his power and prestige. Wealth seemed to be what made him happy and proud. As far as I could tell, it was his passion, his obsession, his very reason for being. As he discussed his international financial empire and impressive array of worldly possessions, I sensed that beneath that collection of materialism was a foundation of unhappiness that comes from spiritual deprivation. The billionaire did not speak joyfully of family or friends. He seemed not to know much of real peace or contentment (Ballard, 1993).
Ballard reflected on that incident and then shared this gem of truth:
The treasure we’re talking about is a feeling of comfort, peace, and eternal security. Because I know that I’m part of a holy plan designed by a Heavenly Father who loves all of His children equally and who wants them all to achieve eternal success, there’s no pressure on me to compete with anyone for worldly acclaim and accomplishment. Please don’t misunderstand: There are many good men and women in the Church of considerable means who know and live Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. Their contributions to God’s kingdom, both spiritually and financially, have been significant. We all want to provide the necessities of life for our families and do the best we can with the talents God has given us. But when considered from the unique perspective of eternity, fame and popularity aren’t nearly as important as loving and being loved; status doesn’t mean much when compared to service; and acquiring spiritual knowledge is infinitely more meaningful than acquiring an excess of wealth.
Ballard cited Matthew 6:19-21 and what the Savior spoke to His disciples. The fruit that comes forth from seeking after the Kingdom of Heaven and the Will of God is very tangible and real in the life of the Christian believer. Ballard sums it up with his own thoughts:
It’s that perspective and the attendant spiritual and emotional tranquility that are among the positive fruits of knowing—really knowing and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. It clarifies the relationship between people and their God and gives meaning and purpose to every individual life. Far more than being just another way of worshiping, it is a way of life. It guides every decision and underscores every relationship, including one’s relationship with oneself. You see, you can never look at yourself in the same way if you know that you are a child of God, and that He knows you, loves you, and cares about you. And you can never look at others dispassionately if you know that they are your eternal brothers and sisters who, like you, are here on earth trying to learn and grow through mortal experiences, both good and bad.
In a world teeming with uncertainty and frustration, such understanding brings a peace of mind that is a delicious gospel fruit, indeed. What comfort and security come from knowing that we have a purpose for being! What a blessing to have the solid anchor of specific values by which to live! How exciting to understand our ultimate, divine potential! How reassuring to realize there is a source of power much greater than our own, which can be accessed through personal faith and prayer and through the righteous exercise of God’s priesthood authority! And how encouraging to know that there is a source of strength that can help us cope with daily trials and find peace in a troubled, turbulent world!
Again, we are a world in turmoil where our hearts ache for the misery and death that seems to surround us. In our own lives, we’re faced with moments where we experience misery and unhappiness. Many turn to various vices – to include alcohol and drugs – to seek relief from their troubles and sell themselves short for a momentary sense of happiness. No matter where we are in life – chasing after happiness to secure peace and balance in our lives causes a downfall.
What then? Are we not to seek happiness in our lives? This is not what I am meaning at all. The whole premise here is that our perception focuses on what it is that I can get, carry out, and/or own that will bring happiness, contentment and joy into my life. We fail at securing happiness through the things we set our own hearts upon.