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What is "Happiness" Anyway?

by Dina Sleiman

So life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are evidently the inalienable rights I’ve been endowed with by my creator. People spend most of their life and their liberty pursuing happiness. That fleeting emotional state of being. Do you we ever find it? Do we even really know what we’re looking for?

Most people look for happiness in all the wrong places. Through fame, fortune, success, or maybe romance. Some may search in better directions like family, friends, and nature, but even those can let you down. Still others may turn inward to find happiness. Those searchers might be on the right track in their quest, but how can one find happiness within—without a source for the happiness. 

In the Bible, we don’t hear about happiness as much as we hear about joy. Some Christians actually say joy has nothing to do with happiness. That it’s more a state of peace or contentment. Well, pardon me, but the Bible talks about those conditions as well, and if they were joy, wouldn’t it just use those words instead. Peace is peace and contentment is contentment and while closely related, they are not to be confused with joy, which is…well, joy.

A friend of mine, Sherman Nobles, once taught a sermon on joy. He too struggled with its definition. Since he couldn’t figure out what it meant, he asked himself what was the opposite. He decided the opposite of joy was depression. Depression is when you’re always down, when you just can’t shake that feeling of heaviness and sadness. So therefore, joy is when you’re always up, when you just can’t shake that feeling of lightness and…drum roll please…happiness.

In fact, dictionary.com uses terms such as “great delight, “happiness,” “keen pleasure,” “elation,” and “bliss” in defining joy.

It seems we’ve stumbled upon a pathway now in our pursuit of happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of joy. And as most of you already know, joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Ergo, happiness is found in the Holy Spirit.

In fact, I believe that sadness and depression must flee in the presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as fear, guilt, hatred, and most of the negative emotions one might experience. True peace, love, hope, and yes, joy are found in intimate connection with God. In God’s presence, most of life’s struggles begin to disappear.

To quote an old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grown strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

So this is where true happiness can be found. Simply put, in communion with God. And while happiness itself is ephemeral, its source springs eternal. If you would like to learn more about how to seek God’s presence, look up my posts on the subjects such as Write Down the Revelation, The Television in My Mind, Ancient Truths Rediscovered, and Alight in the Dance. Or to witness firsthand some joy in action try I Hope You Dance.

I leave you today in your pursuit of happiness with one final thought. My new favorite scripture which has become the mantra of my life from Matthew 11 in the Message version of the Bible.

28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Are you happy? What makes you happy? What can you do to actively pursue happiness in your life?

Comments

  1. Taking a nap will certainly do wonders for my state of happy-being. :-)

    Great post, Dina! We need to be reminded that happiness is a choice.

    What also would make me happy is remembrer my google password.

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  2. Two thoughts came to me as I read your post, Dina...

    First, although I don't enjoy rollercoasters, I do like the ups and downs of everyday life. I love the cathartic bawling at a good movie or book with a happy ending just as much as I love the euphoria that comes with receiving a gift. Both these emotions remind me I'm alive.

    Second, I can't imagine being happy all the time--I know I will be in heaven--I just can't imagine it.

    Excellent post, Dina.

    Anita.

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  3. We're always telling our kids (and congregation) that the only happiness that truly satisfies is the kind that comes from the inside out, not from our circumstances.
    Great reminder, Dina! Thank you!
    Niki

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  4. I may not be happy every moment, but I have the joy of the Lord at every moment. Does that make sense? His peace is so perfect.

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  5. You all made some good points to round out this discussion. Happiness is part of an overall state of well-being, but all emotions are from God and serve a purpose. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Turn, turn, turn :)

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  6. Great post, Dina. I do think that happiness is more of a feeling for me than a state of being, like joy. I am much happier after a snack and a nap. Now I'm going to have to think on it!

    But you friends make me happy!

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  7. I love your new favorite scripture, Dina. I think it answers your question. Living freely and lightly. That sounds like happiness to me. :)

    Matthew 11 in the Message version of the Bible.

    28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Ergo" :-) Good word! I should use that one in a blog post!

    Someone once told me (I can't remember who or when so I probably read it in a Beth Moore study) that joy is a fruit of the spirit but happiness is a gift from God.

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  9. Okay this is indeed a great post, I am thinking about this today even though I am a little late in reading it.I think all to often we look at circumstances letting those control our emotions.Often times I am the one that is ruled by emotion.As I read this I thought about James where it says a double mined man is unstable in all his ways.This is what I need to remember I cannot serve God fully when I am focusing on the storm around me rather than why am I in this storm? What is it that You want me to learn from this God?

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