No, I do not want to live a life of misery where there is no hope, there is no faith, and there is no charity. I am not giving up on myself or on my life. Regardless of my age and where I am now at. So, then how is it that I am finally letting go of happiness in my life? What does that even mean for myself and those I am of service too? And, how is this important to acknowledge and surrender once for all?
First, it started with a simple question posited by my, then, three-year old daughter: "Daddy, are you happy?" A simple question from an innocent beautiful young woman. She is now four and getting ready to reach five years of age. It is a question where I am asking myself- Are you truly happy? Furthermore, it begs a deeper question - What does it mean to truly be happy? I remember giving her a simple answer. More questions developed as I contemplated the significance of whether or not one is truly happy.
Second, I work with people who are struggling with addiction in their lives. Individuals seeking to either discovery or rediscover who they truly are and move toward a healthier sober lifestyle. Part of this includes understanding the nature and power of addiction, the process of recovery, and the importance of engaging in a literal lifestyle change.
- Mental and Emotional well-being
- Physical and Nutritional well-being
- Relational well-being
- Financial well-being
- Spiritual well-being
Coming back to that simple question - Daddy are you happy? I developed and tailored the topic more as it began to unfold in my own thoughts and understandings. Not only is this significant to understand in a recovery environment. It is very significant to understand in the Christian lifestyle. Much like the addict, Christians begin a road of recovery in where they are learning how to identify who they are in their relation with Jesus Christ and a Sovereign and merciful God. This brings us to the third concept.
As Christians, we must ask how we come to understand what it means to be happy? Are we truly happy with who we are? What we are all about? And, how we are able to serve others in the same way that our Savior served those whom he ministered to? Sometimes, it is the simple question that launches us into self-reflection of who we truly are.
Finally, the more I pondered this simple question, contemplated on the events that are unfolding in our own communities and world today: I am left to wonder - am I truly happy? And, are others truly happy?The reality is how complex this question is to answer.
A radical paradigm shift has occurred. My thinking about happiness, joy, contentment and coming to a place where I have peace of mind and balance has significantly changed. This shift occurred because of a particular revelation. A realization how wrong many of us are going about in finding purpose and meaning in our lives. In short, we spend our time chasing after happiness.
Chasing after happiness means we are going after external things. This false perception is based on the idea of what will "make us happy." It ensnares us into a slavery of resentment and bitterness. Meaning, we have developed belief systems and statements where our happiness is only contingent on obtaining material possessions, prestige, achievements and the accolades of family and friends. Granted, nothing inherently wrong with these - it is how we set our own identity and definition of who we are, what our purpose is and what it is we are able to give. In essence, we are literally chasing after happiness and never being satisfied or finding fulfillment in our lives.
This is how I personally have decided to let go of happiness. Far too long I have chased after external sources to bring about my own preconceived notion of what makes me happy. When I am not able to achieve those things, or fulfill my expectations, disappointment and other negative thinking creates adverse behaviors and consequences. Even as Christians, we tend to cause disappointment in our own lives. Disappointment and a sense of failure in our own selves, in the sight of a Sovereign and loving God (who is merciful and compassionate) and those who are part of our sphere of influence.
In light of this personal revelation, let us explore the premise on which our perception is established, and how this paradigm shift occurs when we explore the relationship between happiness, joy and contentment. For me, it is no longer about chasing after what I believe will make me happy (for there is nothing in this world that will ever make me happy). It is all about seeking ways to find enjoyment in the life. It is about finding ways to develop a deeper sense of being in relation to how God perceives us and what He desires for us to grow in our own lives.