Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Illlusion of Happiness

Illusion is defined as "an erroneous mental representation".

Continue with us as we look at Ms. Happiness in the study of
Behind Those Eyes. Hold on tight as we look at what some see as the holy grail: happiness. As always, I'm writing this before ever looking at anyone else's post from our study with with Lelia. I'm probably out in left field as I tend to view things in such different ways than others. Is there a chapter on Ms. Uniqueness? ha

Ironically enough as Lisa mentioned, our standards for happiness aren't really that high. Some of the simplest and smallest things can truly make us happy. Why? For the most part, we want even the simple things to go smoothly. We enjoy the simple rewards. Getting through a green light. Having the trash taken out. No back talk from the children. Cooking dinner without any burning the food.

Lisa talked about how we want to seek the source. I had to laugh as she is right. We look for the source of a rotten smell in the garage. We look for the source of a large bang outside our door. We look for the source of a cell phone ringing in church! She says: Our natural tendency is to look for the source of things to satisfy our curiosity and to help us gain a better understanding of our current situation. Oh is that ever true of me. For one, I am a very curious person and I like to know why things are the way they are.

The same is true when we are seeking happiness. We can look to different sources at different times in our life to find happiness. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but unfortunately, it will never happen. Lisa says: She [Ms. Happiness] is the outward personification of a jovial girl, even thought she is still searching for its inward source. Though able to act happy, since she has never truly found the root of happiness , she is forced to continue looking for it in places it will likely never appear.

There is such value in digging to find the source of joy. Joy is a priceless, precious treasure. It's a rarity and to find the source is to find the pot of gold. It is important to find the real source because until we do, we'll continue to search in the wrong places, consuming our energy, and wasting our time. We will fill our lives with all the wrong things that won't only not bring us joy but can bring us harm.

Do you agree it is our hypocrisy and self-focus that drains us?
Absolutely. Focusing on ourselves is very draining. It is better to give than to receive. That is so true. We can feel so good when we are focused on doing for others and on the needs of others. It is liberating. To focus on our needs and fulfilling our desires just drains the life out of us. Our desires will never be satisfied. It is an endless pit. I believe God made it and us that way for a reason. That is, He made the end result of focusing on ourselves as never satisfying and negative and the experience of focusing on others as positive and fulfilling. Lisa says: We will never be fulfilled when our focus is constantly on us. Often, the more we invest in ourselves, the emptier we feel. The more time you spend thinking about you, the less satisfied you are with yourself or anything else.

Is there a correlation between the lavish lifestyles in the United States versus less fortunate countries regarding happiness? As a whole I believe those in less fortunate countries are much happier. They learn to live with little so they appreciate so much more. To have more is to want more. I have not seen a country like the U.S. so spoiled with so much...too much. There is too much available in this country. To be consumed and lavished with so much has stripped us of the simple pleasures of life. We are too dependent on simple things such as electricity, cable, water, heat, lights, etc. Trust me...I like me some electricity but the recent outage from Ike just showed the deep dependency of it.

Is what you see is truly what you get in regards to Ms. Happiness?
No, it is not. Happiness is not the goal. It should not be the motivator. Happiness is not all that it's cracked up to be. It comes and goes depending on our circumstances. We can be happy at work and miserable at home. We can be happy at church and unhappy at choir. We can be happy at Susie's recital and unhappy at Bobby's game.

Is what others see in me truly what they are getting when they really get to know me? I believe so. What I say, feel, believe--my heart content--is real. Do I at times pretend to be happy and more okay with my life than I am? Yes. Because it is what's needed...what others need. People do not want to be around an unhappy person all the time. Lisa says: Could it be that like Ms. Happiness, we act happy on the outside to please others, silently leaving us to hurt on the inside? Amen, sister. However, if someone takes the time to really get to know me, then I am upfront and honest about my life and the level of happiness in my life. I have never been one to be able to fake perkiness. If I'm jolly, perky, happy, and laughing then it is real. It is real happiness if only for those 2.2 seconds. I've never felt that I falsely put on Ms. Happiness' face but rather at times I do hide Ms. Unhappiness' sad face.

Solomon's struggles are highlighted in Ecclesiastes 2. It is packed with truth. Chasing pleasures and wisdom are meaningless like folly and toil. Solomon tried so many things: wine, folly, projects, gardens, slaves, animals, silver, gold, singers. Do you think he found satisfaction or happiness upon seeking each of those? No. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure...yet, when I surveyed all my hands had done and what I toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after wind. Ecc. 2:10-11 Just as we can chase the wind and never catch it, we can seek happiness and never truly obtain it.

Let me try to explain what some might perceive as doom and gloom negative talk about happiness.


I will never forgot a sermon given earlier this year in which my pastor announced: "I am not a happily married man." Ugh. Everyone gasps inside. "To be happily married means circumstances happen to be happy in my marriage...rather I am a joyfully married man." Whew. This along with what he said following stuck with me. God is not concerned with our happiness but rather our joy. He wants us to be filled with joy and could careless if we are happy.

I have since given up on my quest for happiness. I do not believe it is truly something obtainable and definitely not for extended periods of time. Maybe this is my state of mind in this season of my life but I don't have a concern for happiness any longer. Happiness comes and goes. Rather, I desire to have a purposeful and positive life regardless if my circumstances happen to be happy. Along with that purpose and positivity, I desire peace and joy. Lisa's challenge question was a challenge to find strength to post the honest answer. After all, I am a child of God, the lover of my soul. Do I have true joy? If not, what is standing in my way?

To be honest, I would have to say no. Either I'm looking for a "feeling" of joy or I just don't know how joy should appear. I just know it doesn't "feel" as thought I am joy-filled.

Circumstances will come and go. There will be bad. There will be good. Some moments will be filled with happiness. However, instead of spinning my wheels and chasing the wind to be happy, I desire to be filled with His joy.

To have joy is to have disregard for our circumstances.
Joy comes regardless of life's situations.

All this I know to be true. So, why do I still "feel" as though I do not have joy? I can only surmise that the deep pain of my life and current trials are filling the spots that God desires reserved for His joy. I anticipate that when my pain lessens and my healing increases, then that spot reserved for joy will be filled with its rightful fruit. Some may say that I should have joy amidst my pain. That very likely is true. Don't get me wrong, I do have bits and pieces of it. I do have joy in knowing there is a purpose in my pain. However, I would not feel right holding back some honesty in this study that is intended to get behind my eyes. If I could do a quick 1-2-3 to "feel" that consistent joy, peace, and contentment I'm suppose to have, I'd already be on 4-5-6 to get it.

I believe with a continued pursuit of Christ and in time, it will come. He will fill my heart with peace and joy as He releases my pain and weeds out more and more of my hurts. I pray He does because they are two fruits of His Spirit that I desire to dwell in my spirit (Galatians 5:22)

Of the five joy scriptures Lisa gave us, this one relates best to my life as it is now. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

I leave you with one last quote from Lisa. The true and lasting source of our happiness comes from the joy that fills our hearts and overflows into the paths of those around us. When we go to the real Source of joy, we find the answers we need to secure our contentment in life forever.

In Pursuit of Joy (not happiness),

24 comments:

Darlene said...

I totally resonate with you as you shared the following:
"This along with what he said following stuck with me. God is not concerned with our happiness but rather our joy. He wants us to be filled with joy and could careless if we are happy.

I have since given up on my quest for happiness. I do not believe it is truly something obtainable and definitely not for extended periods of time. Maybe this is my state of mind in this season of my life but I don't have a concern for happiness any longer. Happiness comes and goes. Rather, I desire to have a purposeful and positive life regardless if my circumstances happen to be happy."

Amen and Amen. Looking for happiness is nothing. Looking for Him, ah, well...
is everything.

Darlene

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Great post....and I love this quote of yours:

I desire to have a purposeful and positive life regardless if my circumstances happen to be happy. Along with that purpose and positivity, I desire peace and joy.

I for one, believe that God is far more concerned with my holiness...rather than my happiness.......and if I'm living my life...as you'e stated in your quote...I'm riht where Jesus wants me.

Thanks friend...for challenging me tonight.

Tammy R said...

I love is:To have joy is to have disregard for our circumstances.
Joy comes regardless of life's situations.

Oh,how I wish I knew ths truth years ago!

I enjoy reading you blog,
Tammy

Edge of Design said...

and of course we all know that the fruit of the Spirit is?????Love, ___________ !!!! etc.

nothingcanseparateme said...

Paula,

Thank you for sharing God's work in you as you face these trials. I could relate to what you said:

"Do I at times pretend to be happy and more okay with my life than I am? Yes. Because it is what's needed...what others need. People do not want to be around an unhappy person all the time."

That is so true--it is a choice to be happy in the midst of pain. And I believe that this action speaks to unbelievers just as well as always being "real" and wearing people out with our problems.

Great post!
Joy to you today!
Kim

Abbasgirl said...

Through holiness and the Lord comes joy which I will take over hapiness any day...in the words of King James, Joy cometh!

Amy said...

“Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

I know that I have had to fight for my joy this past year...find humor in the pain....It's not always easy, and like you, I am not a good "faker of happiness." What you see is what you get, so to speak.

But with Christ in my life, in the midst of the most ridiculous amounts of turmoil, there is still "a peace that surpasses all understanding," amen?:)

I'm right there with you in pursuit of joy!
God Bless,
Amy:)

Runner Mom said...

Hey, Paula!
Great post my friend! I loved this..
"There is such value in digging to find the source of joy. Joy is a priceless, precious treasure. It's a rarity and to find the source is to find the pot of gold. It is important to find the real source because until we do, we'll continue to search in the wrong places, consuming our energy, and wasting our time. We will fill our lives with all the wrong things that won't only not bring us joy but can bring us harm." You hit the nail on the head. The wasting of time is what I really need to pray about.

Love you!
Susan
PS--I was lovingly told that on Friday, we are going to be weeding the beds at our house.(We have lots of them!) If you would like to come on down!!, I'll fix you supper if you'll help me!! I hope to experience joy in this endeavor!!

Paula said...

Hi Paula, once again a wonderful post, and filled with thoughts that I can relate to. Today, although very tired from staying up way too late to do my post, I am feeling happy, which I know is a temporary feeling, but deep inside, after a night at church and doing my post, and reading others, I am joyful. God has once again shown Himself and reminded me that He is my Source of joy. Thank you for a wonderful post, and I'm doing better today. Love Paula :-) xo

Carol said...

Paula, my friend, I love the perspective you bring to this study, and the way you share your true feelings.

This stuck out to me "Do I at times pretend to be happy and more okay with my life than I am? Yes. Because it is what's needed...what others need. People do not want to be around an unhappy person all the time."

I know I've done the same so many times, and that part does server a purpose. I know I don't want to be the Eyore of the group.

You shared so well the difference between happiness and Joy. I know sometimes in the midst of trials it's hard to find the joy. It's then I pray for peace.

I pray for you daily. I'll pray for the peace and the joy to fill the place of your pain.

Thank you for opening up so honestly.

Love you,
Carol

Mari said...

You said: Happiness comes and goes. Rather, I desire to have a purposeful and positive life regardless if my circumstances happen to be happy. Along with that purpose and positivity, I desire peace and joy.

This is absolutely fabulous. I feel the same way. Circumstances change. God does not. If we focus on Him and all He is to us, boy will we ever have joy!

Thanks for an extremely insightful post.

christi28 said...

wow paula, this is something to really think about. how i long to be filled with the joy that only comes from Him. why is it so hard sometimes to accept it? why is it easier to sit in our so called unhappiness?

blessings ~

christi28 said...

hi paula,
its me again. this is totaly a God thing here. i am doing a beth moore bible study, breaking free, at my church. i have had one of those day and i just sat down to do my last bit of "homework" and wouldn't you know what it is about? happiness! being happy or joyfull or blessed and the difference of each.

this is what beth moore said that really hit home for me and i thought i would share.

"happiness is inappropriate when it is our goal, but it is not inappropriate when it is Gods momentary gift. open it, enjoy it. and remember it when times get tough."

" he gives us a sudden splash of happiness here and there so we can wet our toes in what we will be swimming in for all eternity."

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. james 5:13

come and share your master's happiness. matt 25:21


lately i have been struggling with "happiness" and the Lord has comfirmed that as long as i rely on "things" not of Him to make me happy i will not be happy. thank you for listening to His word and sharing your heart.

blessings ~ christi

Joyfulsister said...

Hi Paula..
It was good to see your visit as I read my comments. I went on a bloggy break and my daughter came for a visit. I do read your posts and enjoy reading about your study.

Hugz Lorie

Tonya said...

Hi, Paula.. so GLAD you didn't notice the dust in that photo... HEHEHE!

As always, it's such a blessing to visit with you here! I'm thinking the LORD may be trying to remind me about something.. yours was the second of three that I've read in the past couple of days on joy/happiness. =-)

On Purpose said...

Paula you are so precious. Thank you for inviting me to read your blog and your comments on joy vs happiness. I know God is all over you right now, I know He loves you and I know He has a purpose for your pain. I know you will be celebrating and dancing and rejoicing and He has great big amounts of joy to fill those voids for you!

Love to you and prayers up to Him!

Cindy said...

Hi Sweet Paula,

Thank you so much for your comments and encouragment on my blog. I appreciate your willingness to share.

My bloggy friends are such treasures.

Blessings, Cindy

Laura said...

Oh, Paula. I read your thoughts with mixed emotions. While it pains me to hear you say that you have given up the pursuit of happiness, I rejoice that you place your joy in the Lord. I think you are right, this season of your life has you seeing a certain way. You sound like Paul when you say that you want to "have a purposeful and positive life regardless if my circumstances happen to be happy."
So spiritually mature.
Thanks for your sweet comments on my blog. As for the book, it's the only one right now. I've been trying to finish the second in the series for a while but life keeps interfering. Thanks for the encouragement.

Lelia Chealey said...

That is so me when you said: We can be happy at work and miserable at home. We can be happy at church and unhappy at choir. We can be happy at Susie's recital and unhappy at Bobby's game.

I always confuse my family on my quest for my happiness.

Great words from your heart Paula!
Love,
Lelia

Leebird said...

"I believe with a continued pursuit of Christ and in time, it will come. He will fill my heart with peace and joy as He releases my pain and weeds out more and more of my hurts. I pray He does because they are two fruits of His Spirit that I desire to dwell in my spirit (Galatians 5:22)"

I'm with you there, sister. Thanks for being honest about your lack of consistent bubbling-over joy. I want that, too. Right now, I feel as if my joy is like the fizz from an ice cold Diet Coke...it's about to bubble over the rim of the glass, but my self-focus "sticks a finger in it" and makes the fizz dissapate. My great desire is to be so full of joy that it bubbles on everyone I meet and bubbles up in worship to the Lord. We'll get there...if we keep letting God heal those broken spots and replace our baggage with the Holy Spirit. Thanks for visiting my blog...hope you realize that I love to read books, but just know that ultimately, it's Jesus who will "fix me." I'm reading Self Talk Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild right now...it's a good 'un. Blessings, Lee

valerie said...

Very good post Paula.

I keep you in my prayers. It's difficult to see joy when you're going through trials, but He has promised..."though your weeping may endure for the night...joy comes in the morning."

I'm looking forward to the day when you begin to see the things going on in your life work for the good. Won't that be a great post for all of us to share in?

We Americans are very spoiled. We waste so much. It's so sad.

In our Bible study the other night Priscilla Shirer was talking about an African missionary who said they see so many miracles in Africa because unlike us here in America they have so much less to depend on. We tend to lean more on medicine, doctors etc. They have the Lord Jesus and absolutely believe Him for the miracles they need.

I pray you have a great weekend.
It's going to be a beautiful one here in Oklahoma.
Love,
Valerie

Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

thank you for stopping by. That cross is in a picture in my bathroom and I have a trinket box like it that I keep my rearrring in. It has the Provb verse about what a wife should be to her husband. I am at work so I can't check on the verse. Sorry.
I pray you are finding joy in all your transitions!!

In His graces~Pamela

Cheri Bunch said...

Thanks for the invitation to join your study. I recently read that book and enjoyed it.

I believe that we can be very happy, but it doesn't come in ways that the world would prescribe. It comes so subtly, surprisingly all wrapped up in simple, beautiful and amazing ways.

I believe that the Lord wants to bless us with such happiness, and I do think it is attainable, but it doesn't come naturally.....

I don't know if this makes sense, but I pray that you will soon be able to taste and see how wonderful this state of being, this gift of God is.

You have one beautiful blog! I love all of the photos!

Blessings to you, dear friend!
Cheri

Liz said...

Thank you for the sweet words of encouragement on my blog. Sometimes, I have felt that I might be the only one who mourns the loss of a friendship in this way, and even thinking I would rather be Ms. Happiness, because it is easier than feeling. But, not really and those thoughts pass, thankfully. Sadness and joy can be lived in the same life, and even on the same day in the same moments! Praise the Lord! I am finding that He really gives me all I need!
I will be back to visit your blog.