Chances are… you’ve wondered what it takes to be happy

Thomas Aquinas remarked that there is “within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning.” Maybe that’s why there is a multitude of books and blogs proposing anywhere from two to 14 steps to finding happiness—from unleashing unpleasant memories to simply not worrying and choosing happiness.

Happiness is something we all long to experience. We search for it via success, wealth, power, and relationships. But are those things enough to bring us lasting happiness? The answer, ubiquitously, seems to be no. No one has it all together in the happiness department. We’re always striving to gain it or maintain it.

We talk about things that “make us happy” like cars, jewelry, gadgets, and oh … chocolate. If happiness is attached to how much you have or how well things are going or whether you’re married or single, those are all variables that can change. When those things change, so does your happiness. If we are reliant on those things to make us happy, it means that at the core of our being we aren’t genuinely happy.

Happiness is not simply the absence of longing. Those who have everything they have ever wanted will testify that fulfilled wishes aren’t the benchmark of happiness. It’s true that single events and things can bring about moments of happiness. However, it’s a happiness that dissipates over time. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman found that once people reached a little beyond middle-class income level, even big financial gains didn’t yield an increase in happiness.[1]

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.” Human brokenness, greed and pride are happiness busters. Our pride tells us we deserve to be happy, our greed tells us to go for whatever makes us happy, and our brokenness tells us that as long as we’re happy, it’s ok, even if it’s at the expense of others.

#ChancesAre happiness is not simply the absence of longing; happiness comes through wholeness Click To Tweet

If personal happiness is all you live for, you’re likely never going to attain it—not long-term anyway. You were created by a perfect and loving God who wants the best for you. Ultimately, happiness comes through wholeness and wholeness happens when you allow God to work in you—when you allow God to deal with the sources of your unhappiness.

Then you’ll be free to live out your unique purpose without it being all about you. You can invest in the lives of others and be a part of something bigger than you without greed or pride meddling. Then you’ll experience long-term happiness because it’s growing in you every day.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/opinion/sunday/a-formula-for-happiness.html

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Cameron McAllister Written by:

Cameron McAllister is a member of the speaking and writing team at RZIM. He earned a degree in Philosophy and Religion from Toccoa Falls College and is currently pursuing a master’s in cultural apologetics from Houston Baptist University. Firmly committed to the integration of reason and the imagination in his apologetic approach, Cameron is the host of the weekly Vital Signs podcast, which signs of life in today’s culture. A great admirer of the work and ministry of Dallas Willard, Cameron is also deeply committed to the integration of apologetics and Christian discipleship. Cameron was born on the mission field in Vienna, Austria. He moved to the States with his family in 1998 when his father, Stuart McAllister, began working with RZIM. Cameron and his wife, Heather, make their home in Georgia.