Pursuing happiness – highly desired, frequently missed, mostly misunderstood

Everyone desires happiness. Everyone pursues happiness. Yet, many people misunderstand where happiness comes from or miss it all together. Come along with me as I tell you a story about Lisa, a close friend. Lisa was a part of a mission trip to another country.

They went to a place that was very poor and in desperate need. I happily watched all of the pictures that she brought back. I watched pictures of men and woman, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and children of all ages. I watched pictures of them building a new building. All of the pictures had something in common. They were ALL smiling. Not a slight smile, they are beaming from ear to ear. The comment that I heard over and over was, “They’re so happy. They have absolutely nothing and they’re really, really happy.”

I heard a voice calling to me. Well of course their happy! This was an exciting event. The missionaries brought wealth, and newness, and helping hands to a desperate place. Of course they’re happy! Who wouldn’t be happy?

Question: Is the happiness of that village contingent upon an exciting event?

Excitement is not happiness. For example, being in the water rescuing a boat during a thunder and lightning storm was certainly exciting, but it didn’t make me happy!

Maybe the village wasn’t really happy. How can that village be so happy when they have such desperate needs?

This question is haunting me. Does happiness come out of material possessions? I’m taking a look around my room. Couches, tables, and a TV provide comfort. My phone and my tools provide support. My computer provides opportunities to write. What my materials don’t provide is happiness. Money can’t and never will provide happiness.

What about the achievements that were made. We built a building for them. Surely that created happiness for them?

As soon as I said that, I knew that it wasn’t true. I know of many highly successful people at work who are truly miserable. Achieving the success of building a new building did not bring them happiness.

“Lisa, are they really happy?”

Lisa put her hand on my shoulder. “The people in that village are truly happy. They aren’t happy because we visited them. They aren’t happy because we gave them goods. They aren’t happy because we built that building for them.”

“Exciting events, money, and achieving success don’t create happiness? Why are they happy then? I don’t understand!”

How would you answer that question?

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