Happiness is…

Image

I recently attended a workshop by a well-known local psychologist on the topic of CBT and mindfulness. He mentioned that from talking to clients he has found that most people are searching to for “happiness”. For example we toll away at jobs that we do not enjoy for the end result of retiring comfortably and being “happy”. Of course, these culturally prescribed routes rarely produce happiness and sometimes people find they are the opposite of happy even while pursuing happiness. Depression is widespread in our culture(and among those who follow Jesus) and is characterized by hopelessness and lack of will to live and isolation/withdrawl from relationships.

For those who follow Christ I wondered if we too are aiming for happiness? The teachings of Jesus surprisingly do not seem to advocate for the goal of happiness and when happiness is spoken off it appears in an upside-down manner. For example in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) Jesus speaks of being blessed or in some translations “happy” when we are poor, mourn, meek, merciful and persecuted. It seems that happiness, instead of a goal, is a by-product of a lifestyle of both weakness and righteousness. In all of this we are called to “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:12). Somehow we are supposed rejoice- celebrate – an action- not a mood stated- with the challenges in this present life with the insight and hope that God will reward us in heaven.

I have been meditating and memorizing Philippians 4:4-13 for the last month. Philippians was written by Paul from prison to the community in Philippi. He too is advocating a joyful/happy action “Rejoice in the Lord always I will say it again Rejoice”. It is in this passage that he explains that he has learned to be content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:11). This goes counter to our cultural “quest” for happiness through the usual route.

However, unlike mindfulness which aims to find inner peace through the moment Paul emphasizes that we are content in the Lord, who strengthens us. We rely on God’s strength to renew us and give us the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding”.

Being and feeling happy is cherished for a reason- it renews our spirit, we can keep on going in this hard challenging world. Can followers of Christ really hope to be happy? What can we say to clients who hope to be happy? Is it even an achievable goal?

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Happiness is…

  1. Ahhh… the existential quest for happiness. I am asking the same questions you posed in your last paragraph, so I don’t have answers, just ponderings. Paul talks about “contentment” despite circumstances. That sounds a lot like “radical acceptance” that is a theme of Buddhism but it doesn’t sound like a lot of Christians I have known. I wonder if American Christians are striving for contentment, working hard to achieve it, wondering when obedience is going to pay off.

    When Paul talks about striving for the goal, I think he’s talking about Jesus, not righteousness, obedience, peace, happiness, or contentment. Knowing Jesus and being in touch with Him (dare I say, being mindful of Him) every moment… I think that’s the goal. Therein lies happiness… acceptance… contentment despite circumstances.

    • Yes the big question is what is the secret of being content in any and every situation? It I not positive thinking in my opinion ( like the secret). But it is like you said found in Jesus, not our own striving! Thank you for your reply!!!

Please leave a reply, I would love to hear your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s