I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies of happiness. I know that’s sounds like such a downer but I’m not depressed or unhappy in any way. Let me explain…
I think society/the world/media/culture tells us that happiness is the ultimate goal. Humans spend their lives striving after it, pursuing some ideal dream, some vague thing that dances just outside of their grasp, only to find out that they can never fill that hole in our heart or satiate that longing.
Some people try medicating with money or power or education or material possessions. Some take the path of humility, striving to serve and give and “be good” in hopes that the elusive happy life they’re seeking will naturally come as a reward. The romantics around us would say that happiness can only be found through love, and so we raise that emotion to the highest pedestal possible and dream about our “happily ever afters.” But here’s the kicker: none of these paths lead to happiness, though the world would not have you believe that.
Many of them lead to comfort which we sometimes confuse with happiness. “I’m in a good, comfortable place in a new relationship so I must be happy.” “I have a brand new tv to play this brand new video game on and it’s going to be awesome!” But how long does comfort really last in these situations? What happens when you’re comfortable in a relationship but you realize you don’t actually like each other all that much? Or what happens when the next version of that tv/video game comes out (because let’s be real, they’re just going to keep remaking things over and over again)? We’re no longer “happy.”
And here’s the thing, most of us do experience moments of intense, pure, true happiness, and when we do, we notice. We get married or have a kid or reach a goal, and we think, “I’m going to hold on to this moment forever” because we recognize the moment for what it is and we know how fleeting real happiness is.
So if we know this truth, that happiness is a fleeting, momentary thing that cannot be bought or bribed or earned, why is it the singular goal of so many of our lives?
And then, most humans hide behind a mask of “happiness” because we see everyone else trying to be happy and we think that this is normal. That if we’re not happy, there’s something wrong with us because we should be happy because everyone else is happy. So we lie to each other instead of being real. We lie to ourselves because we don’t want to believe the truth. We fake how we’re really doing instead of admitting that we might be striving after something impossible. No wonder there’s so much anxiety and depression around us, right?
In a lot of ways, real, true happiness in this world has become more of a lie and a myth than a reality. But if it can’t be found through love or possessions or charity or education or money or the things on this planet, what do we do? Because that’s a miserable and terrifying thought.
Well, first I think we can accept that the things society is shoving down our throats to “fulfill” us are lies. I think we can recognize what we’ve been seeking to complete us isn’t working.
If that’s you right now, if you’re able to acknowledge that truth, my next challenge for you is to google “what the Bible says about joy” with an open mind and open heart.
I know. I just hit you with the Bible. But here’s the thing: God created humanity and we ALL have that same insatiable urge for something greater, the urge that the world tells us is for happiness. But why would a good God create people with this longing desire without the means to fulfill it? He wouldn’t. Or He wouldn’t be good.
But what if I told you that not only did God design a way for humans to experience real happiness, He wanted something more for us than fleeting, momentary emotion we feel from the things of this world? What if He wanted us to experience JOY that never ends? What about lasting contentment and peace and hope?
Good news! That’s exactly what God did and what He wants for us! He designed us with this absolutely infuriating conundrum so that we would seek relationship with Him. All God wants is for us to stop trying (and failing) to do things ourselves and let Him lead us to the life He intended us to have, a life filled with never ending joy instead of fleeting happiness.
Disclaimer: joy and peace and contentment and hope cannot be found in a book, church, or religion. They can only be found in God. So if you’re even the least bit curious, I challenge you to read about how there will come a time when “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22), how Jesus delighted in dying to save you (yes, YOU) (Hebrews 12:2) or how we can truly enjoy this life we’re given because God is in control (Ecclesiastes 9:7). God wants so much more for your life but you can only truly discover that by getting to know Him.
There’s so much joy and hope to be had in this life. Don’t chase after what you know down deep is fleeting. Don’t give in to the lies of happiness.