Happiness is pleasing and cheerful, euphoric and merry. Who doesn’t want to be “on top of the world,” “over the moon” or “on cloud nine?”
No one, that’s who!
There is a little problem with happiness, though. It’s one of those emotions that doesn’t hang around for a long time. We get a little taste of it, and: BLISS! It’s the BEST. FEELING. EVER.
Then * poof * — it’s gone. And we’re left thinking, What just happened?
And very quickly we’re like, I want THAT feeling again. I want more HAPPY.
In fact, some make chasing happiness the central focus of nearly every area of their lives. Regarding appearance, friendship, vocation, dating, marriage, homemaking — you name it — the repeated mantra for many is this: “I’m just going to do what makes me happy.”
At first, such advice seems sensible. Because — as already established — we all like being happy, so why not make our choices based on that which will get us more “happy”?
Because chasing happiness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Chasing Happiness Brings Short-term Satisfaction Not Forever Fulfillment
What brings us happiness one day might fall short the next.
Sure … there may be moments of pleasure and satisfaction, but obtaining anything — a job, a spouse, an award, a look — with the hope of everlasting happiness? That’s a goal that will disappoint every time.
Because landing the dream job doesn’t negate trouble in the workplace; marrying your best friend doesn’t prevent conflict in marriage; earning the highest accolade doesn’t discount added responsibilities that follow; fitting into the size 0 doesn’t mean dieting stops.
And when the happiness wears off? Many go chasing after happiness again, looking for a new job or spouse, striving for another achievement, enjoying the previously forbidden foods.
2. Chasing Happiness Demands Following Feelings Not Faith
And that’s not good for anyone. Because our emotions are erratic at best and self-serving at worst.
Chasing happiness didn’t work out for King David who followed his feelings for Bathsheba which paved the way for adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11).
Chasing happiness didn’t work out for Samson who followed his feelings for Delilah which led to betrayal and imprisonment (Judges 16).
Example after example indicates that chasing happiness using feelings as a roadmap ultimately leads people to some of the most unhappy places.
3. Chasing Happiness Is Not Scriptural
Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to chase happiness; there is nothing that says, “Just do what makes you happy.”
Instead, the Bible inspires us to pursue wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-6); peace (1 Peter 3:11); righteousness, faith, love (2 Timothy 2:22); godliness, endurance, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11) — to name just a few.
So to those who want to be truly happy, here are some questions to ask ourselves — questions that steer us away from chasing happiness and point us in the direction of the One in Whom we should delight:
- How can I pursue wisdom through this season?
- Does this decision give me peace?
- If I take this path, will I still have a right relationship with God?
- Will the next step strengthen my faith?
- Am I moving forward in love?
- Would Jesus consider my behavior godly?
- Am I exhibiting endurance (as opposed to cowardice or weakness)?
- Does this choice permit me to conduct myself with gentleness?
My prayer is that instead of “just doing what makes us happy,” we’d become a people who ponder deeply the pursuits of Scripture.
Because ultimately, “…those who keep [Wisdom’s] ways are happy” (Proverbs 8:32).
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Darlene Schacht, author of Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages and co-author of Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
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