One of the greatest pursuits of mankind is undoubtedly the desire for happiness. We just need to look at the advertising industry and we will find that the purchase of a particular product will give us happiness. We may well claim that we are not duped by such shallow advertising, but the question remains, “why these methods are employed if they do not work”?

Is happiness obtainable from external objects? If we obtain unimaginable wealth, will this make us happy? Or perhaps we can follow the example of those who have forsaken all material things? Kin Hubbard remarked,

“It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.”

Relationships are a great source of happiness and this cannot be doubted as we can recall instances of great happiness through our relationships. However, relationships are also a great source of pain and the source of much suffering is often in the hands of other people.

Some believe that the complete absence of problems brings happiness. How is it then that those who have suffered the most severely; who should be most miserable; are in fact some of the happiest?

We might speculate that happiness is not obtained from possessions and although people can make us happy that should not be our primary purpose in relating to them. Perhaps happiness should come from our disposition. Those who seem to have the greatest measure of happiness appear to have it during good or bad seasons of life. It does appear that happiness is mainly a matter of attitude. This seems to be implied in the words of Jane Powell, “If you don’t enjoy what you have now, how can you be happier with more?”

One further thought relates happiness to purpose. People with purpose often are happier than those without. Lack of purpose can really lead to unhappiness as much as having the wrong purpose. As a Christian I fully agree with C.S. Lewis in his assertion that,

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

Finding happiness and finding purpose are related.

Perhaps the greatest cause of unhappiness is that many do not know the Creator who made them and are therefore destined never to be happy because their pursuit is wholly in the wrong direction and without God. Let me finish with the words of Malcolm Muggeridge:

I can say that I never knew what joy was until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.

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