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),