Everyone wants to be happy, but true happiness is defined differently by each person. Some feel happiness is the possession of things. Others believe happiness comes through popularity or power. Some feel they would be happy if only they could be independently wealthy. In the main, however, most people intrinsically believe that happiness is not having any problems, which would explain our severe aversion to adversity.
Who wants problems? No one I know of actually prays, “Dear Jesus, I would like to have a problem today.” If anything, we pray for the opposite. And since life is full of problems, then however we find true happiness must in some way include the problems, trials, and adversities of life.
What Is Happiness?
Happiness is not the same thing as joy. Joy is internal, but happiness is external. In other words, the “happenstances” around you is what brings you happiness. When you get into a car accident, you are probably not happy even though you could maintain your joy and quality of spirit through it.
Happiness, therefore, is dependent upon the circumstances and situations around you. If you are pleased with how your external life is going, then you will be happy.
Can You Find Happiness Amidst Trials and Problems?
In short, yes. If someone were to ask me what I thought the single most important factor was to gain happiness, I would have to say that it was purpose or vision. Any problem or trial that you face is always faced better when you have a vision or purpose.
You can have a lot of money, be popular, have decent relationships, possess power, have friends, even have a walk with God and find yourself unhappy. The reason for this is that none of these things have full value until you have purpose behind them.
Having a spiritual walk with God brings protection and peace, but without reason or purpose, it’ll grow old and stagnate. You could marry the kindest, gentlest man in the whole world, but if your marriage has no purpose and reason, then it will grow old, and you may find yourself thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the hill.
Where there is no vision, there is no reason. Rich people who accumulate money for no other reason than to have it, lose purpose and will find that the money cannot make them happy. There is nothing wrong with money, but money without purpose that is bigger than your greed is vain. What good does it do? We’ve all heard that you can’t buy happiness.
More than that, people whose sole purpose in life is self-gratification learn, eventually, doing so isn’t really a purpose at all. Self-gratification is a black hole that makes no progress, nor does it satisfy. It provides a temporary high that often lets you down further than you came up. Therefore, self-gratification can’t be a purpose.
Problems and trials give you the chance to exercise your purpose in ways you would never be able to do before. Our heroes in life are not those who never face adversity, but those who face adversity and overcome them.
Find a Greater Purpose for Everything
You will find greater happiness in your marriage when you find greater purpose to everything in your life. Your marriage needs a greater purpose. Your job needs a greater purpose. And even that car accident needs to have a greater purpose for you. It will be in that purpose and vision that you find true happiness in every circumstance.
For most people, survival or just living longer is their only purpose in life. I don’t mean to infer that their life is necessarily in danger, but rather that they go through the day with a single goal…to get it over with. They live for that single moment or two of self-gratification sometime during the day, and then they dread the morning and the return to the daily grind. No purpose. No vision. Therefore, no happiness.
Get a purpose in life. Find a vision that literally yanks you out of bed in the morning, anxious to get started. Your vision and purpose must reach outside of yourself. If you are the focus of your own purpose, then as I said, you won’t find fulfillment. That type of purpose is a betrayal of the important things in life-just ask Benedict Arnold or Judas Iscariot.
True Happiness in the Pursuit
If you really think about it, it is not the achieving or the victories that bring you the most happiness in your life. It is the pursuit itself that brings true happiness. If true happiness is in actually winning a ball game, then why play another? Because it wasn’t winning that really brought you happiness; it was the pursuit of the win. This implies purpose to your life. Something to continually strive for.
Mankind wasn’t made to retire. Without a goal or purpose we don’t have happiness.
Most of the world is a cesspool of self-focus. We don’t really live; we just exist. You see, it is the pursuit of happiness that brings the greatest amount of happiness in life. A purpose provides the pursuit. The pursuit brings happiness because we strive for something greater than ourselves.
Find purpose to your life, and you’ll find happiness.