This is a unique feeling. This week was the.longest.ever. I’m so ready for today. Pizza and a movie, coming right up! Every day I kept thinking, It’s only Wednesday? Thursday? How do people *work* 40 hours a week?! I’m so out of the habit.
I want to talk about happiness today. I believe our cats feel happiness. Chloe, while lying on my chest, purrs and smiles dreamily. Rex smirks after catching and eating a fly. Oh, and after intimidating Chloe.
People can experience happiness, too. Living in this body, in this space in time, happiness gets glossed over. I remember Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. Savoring the small pleasures of life fosters happiness. Taking time to notice the little things like buds on the trees or a colorful sunset inspires us. These things are, by their very nature, transient. Does that make them any less valuable? I might raise some hackles here, but I don’t think fundamentalist Christianity does happiness much justice. We’re always looking forward to heaven. We’re good at sharing our woes along this trail of tears called life. “Oh, Jesus, I know you have a mansion for me in glory! Can’t wait to leave this heap.” Or, us women, we spend a good amount of time lamenting how skinny we were in our teens and 20s. “I used to be able to wear a size 0!” That’s not my story, but some of you can relate.
Christians use the word joy instead. I like joy. I don’t want to mix up joy and happiness. Joy, in our particular sect, is something you put on and choose no matter your circumstances. It’s an attitude, a continual meditation. It’s a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5). As Christians, we live in joy because Christ, the “hope of glory”, lives in us. Joy is defined as exceeding gladness at possessing your heart’s desire. It can be brought on by great success or serendipity, too.
For clarification, the definition of happiness is – wait for it – the state of being happy. Insightful. Which leads us back to the root word, happy. The definition of happy is:
- feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
- having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation).
- fortunate and convenient.
But we’re here, now. I don’t think we do God any favors by griping and complaining about our lot. Walking around with frowns helps no one. In fact, there are admonitions against this: Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world – Philippians 2:14-15
I’m going to admit I fall down on this one. Not as often as I used to, but enough. I need to focus on the happy things. “Happy thoughts”, I guess you’d call them. Dark chocolate. Zac crafting a pun. Cats purring. Ruby dancing. Running outside just before the sun crests the horizon. Jonathon’s laugh. Hot coffee with half-and-half and molasses. I might be alone on that last one.
What makes you happy? Can you choose to be happy or is it all based on externals aligning? What do you think?