What is Happiness?

Thursday, March 22

Many people point out that happiness is a choice we make, an attitude we choose to maintain and a mood we can simply control. But is it really that easy?

What if the key to happiness is found in two words, an authentic invitation into the deeper parts of living which we all crave, even as we often push it away at arm’s length?

Join us.

That’s right, join us! It’s an invitation into something more, something deeper, something else.

How do you find happiness? We believe these four things will help, and they are closer than one might think.

Lifelong Relationships

It seems no matter how many times we are reminded that relationships add a richness to our lives, we still tend to be content at saddling ourselves with labels. Adult, child, student, athlete, worker, family man, working mom and the list goes on.

Not content to simply label, we often identify in some negative manner. One study found participants who realized how they’d been identifying themselves as a cancer survivor/widow/recovering addict, only engaged with life through the lens of a victim.

Too often we forget to consider who we are without the labels. We need to remember not to equate our identity with our suffering, loss, or illness. This will be a good start towards discovering who we really are.1

How we choose to identify ourselves is so important. Labels like optimist or pessimist, carefree or burdened, and adventurous or timid may make us feel accepted in one social circle. But it will exclude us from another. It is really easy to find ourselves becoming a chameleon in every circle we belong. But this doesn’t help us find out who we are, only who everyone around us imagines us to be.

The right answer is not to isolate ourselves from relationships altogether. Rather, we should embrace the relationships we have which will foster community for years to come. It means accepting yourself as you are. It also means accepting others as they are. Join us is connecting with others in a deep and meaningful way.

At Grace College, we believe the most important relationship is the one we have with Jesus, which leads to our second point.

Lifelong Meaning

Every pastor at every church in the last 20 years has likely uttered the phrase, ‘doing life together.’ It is an invitation into a life lived for something greater than ourselves. And while lifelong relationships are key, it cannot simply mean being in a room together. A group of people watching television will share the same space and the same experience, but without something deeper connecting us, the activities we engage in will forever lack depth.

Discovering a deeper meaning to what we are doing means offering an explanation for why we are doing it. This is not simply window dressing, an answer to have at the ready should the teacher call on us. It is not about participation points, something teachers do to increase the level of engagement. True engagement happens when we accept the reason behind what we are doing. It is something we are willing to acknowledge as ours.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This is likely why the English theologians summarized man’s purpose by stating “[our] chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”3 The happiest people lean into relationships with others. They understand the richness of a life lived for the glory of God and in service to others.

Join us, similar to Jesus’ call to follow Him, is an invitation to discover how authentic happiness is lived out.

Lifelong Learning

In a world where automation is replacing the need for certain jobs to be done by a person, the pursuit of knowledge becomes key. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”4 The speed of progress is only slowed down by our inability to learn new skills.

Many of the most successful people subscribe to what is called the 5-hour rule. This is the discipline of spending an hour every day to read and learn and grow. This one habit will open up new doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain closed.

The simple truth is that the things which once interested us may not do so for our entire lives. The skills needed for one job may not be the skills we need at the next.

To remain one-dimensional in our interests and in our knowledge and abilities will severely inhibit our capacity for happiness and fulfillment at every stage in life.

With over 70 different majors, Grace College is positioned to equip anyone and everyone for what’s next. Join us is an adventure in exploring subject matter which increases interest and experience.

Lifelong Experiences

The relationships we keep, the knowledge we acquire, all coupled with the deeper meanings we know to guide us, will lead us to lifelong experiences which will impact us in ways unimaginable before. This, at first, might appear to place happiness on a high shelf we can only reach once we have reached full maturity.

Rather, happiness in this sense is something which will grow deeper and richer as we live it out. A child cannot fully appreciate the joy found in being an adult, nor a young adult the enjoyment found in the ‘golden years.’ So too we cannot predict the level of pleasure we will one day attain on this path.

Join us is the suggestion that there exists something greater outside of ourselves. It cannot simply be studied, viewed, or watched from afar. It demands a choice to engage. To do otherwise pushes happiness away as if something to be accomplished on next week’s to-do list.

1 Shapiro, E. & D. (2013, September 10) 7 Ways to Find Inner (and Real) Happiness Retrieved from

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-and-deb-shapiro/happiness-tips_b_3886677.html

2 Retrieved from http://www.reformed.org/documents/wsc/index.html?_top=http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html

3 Simmons, M. (2017, October 12) 5-Hour Rule Retrieved from https://medium.com/the-mission/the-5-hour-rule-if-youre-not-spending-5-hours-per-week-learning-you-re-being-irresponsible-791c3f18f5e6