Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happiness - is it too much hard work?

I get an email in my inbox at work every Monday from Dr Happy. I am impressed by him - he writes positively, encourages people to take care of themselves and lead balanced lives. He has tips for being happy and stories about appreciating life and what we have.

But I have started deleting it without reading it. I can't handle any more positive psychology!

I do want to be happy - let me explain that further - I want to be contented with my life and enjoy the people and happenings around me. I want to be optimistic and encouraging and find joy in the everyday.

But I don't want a list of 27 things that I need to complete (or avoid) in order to be able to tick off 'happy' in my 'achieved for today' box.

Pursuing happiness, as a goal, is the one thing guaranteed to make it unachievable. This is my theory, and I admit the hypothesis is probably unprovable. Happiness is actually the product of pursuing something else. Pursuing happiness is self-focussed, and shifting focus from self is a key step to becoming happy.

John Piper, talks about Christian hedonism. That we should pursue pleasure (happiness), but in God rather than in ourselves. And this will lead to happiness based on a trustworthy, faithful God who loves us and made us to find joy in glorifying him.

Happiness as a list of 'to-do's just weighs me down.

Happiness as a meeting with the god of grace, where he touches my life, all its minutiae and ordinariness, and tints it heaven-like. Now that is the happiness I seek.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
Ecclesiastes 3:11-13.

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