The "pursuit of happiness" is the portion that we Americans love to focus on. We want to be happy. We want to do anything that makes us happy. We want to support other people's quest for happiness. You even have scientific research on happiness. If we're depressed for any reason, we do whatever we can to be happy again -- even if it means taking pills, doing drugs, or indulging in any sort of hedonist (self-gratifying) activities.
With all this obsessive focus on happiness, we don't ask ourselves if we're being happy about the right things. Instead of learning what to be happy about, we want to just do anything that makes us happy.
How many of you have said, "If only I had [fill in the blank], I could be happy?" Yes, admit it, you have at one time in your life thought that getting something in particular would make you happy. Admit that at one time, you thought that if things in your life would have moved in one particular direction, you would eventually be able to smile again. Admit that at one point in your life, you thought that you could never be happy unless [fill in the blank].
Here's the thing about happiness: it's a learned skill. It's a skill, because you need to know what to be about happy. Naturally, you get happy with anything that immediately satisfies you. But we don't always get happy about the right things. For instance, my children would definitely be happy if they could have donuts and milkshakes for breakfast, jellybeans and cookies for lunch, and cake for dinner. Hey, that would make YOU happy, wouldn't it? But I'd be a horrible parent if I allowed my kids to eat like that knowing well that they could get heart disease and diabetes with such a diet.
So, my kids would be happy for the wrong things. They ought to be happy to eat food that makes their bodies healthy. But being happy to eat healthy food takes practice.
Nobody is naturally happy to eat carrots and celery sticks!
Nobody is naturally happy having to sacrifice time to exercise.
Nobody is naturally happy about having to cut down their favorite foods and beverages.
But EVERYBODY could learn to be happy about things that benefit them in a healthy way.
As parents, we want our kids to pursue careers that make them happy right? Well, what if my daughter wants to be a stripper? What if my son wants to open up a porn business? Should I just sit back and give my kids my blessing to pursue whatever they want as long as they are happy? Of course not! As a parent, part of my job is to TEACH my children the way they should go and to not let them be guided by their various desires. If they have the wrong desires, they will make choices that will ultimately devastate them.
Right now, you're thinking, "If only I had..." and you're living life waiting for this one thing to happen for you. But ask yourself, "Why am I waiting for this one thing to happen for me? Would I really not be happy if I didn't have it?"
You see, we focus on all the wrong things that make us happy. If we don't get those things, then we will be miserable. We would have resolved to not be happy until things go our way -- and let me tell you, that is a horrible way to live. Why? Because you will never live a life where everything goes your way.
Before I got married, I was happy being single. I mean, I wasn't jumping for joy, but I was fine just being me. It's not as if I wanted to be single. I preferred marriage. But I wasn't going to be that person who lives and breathes marriage. I didn't want to be that person who "absolutely needed somebody in his life." No, I was fine with being just me and God. And listen, since I have already determined that I would accept a life of celibacy, I didn't choose the wrong person to marry.
In college, I was surrounded by MANY lovely girls. I've met some really good ones, and one of those college girls could have been my wife. But, I decided that all of these lovely ladies that I've met were not right for me. I've spent FIVE years in this one particular college in Texas, and I left it without one woman by my side. However, back in New York, I met a woman online on a Christian website -- and when I first saw her, I immediately thought that she was the one. Now, almost 12 years and two children later, I still don't regret marrying her.
You see, when you determine to be happy about the right things, you won't make any decisions that will devastate you. Just imagine if I was so miserable about being single that I would have married just any girl. The marriage could have been a rough one! But because I determined to not be miserable because of my singleness, I was able to make the RIGHT choice in whom I would marry. I didn't rush marriage. I waited for the right one. And believe it or not, when I was a teenager, my goal was to date only ONE woman and to marry her. I didn't care to jump from girl to girl to girl trying to figure out which is the best one for me.
YOU need to determine to be happy with the right things and to not be miserable if things don't go as planned. Didn't get the job you wanted? Be happy. Didn't get married yet? Be happy. Car is broke down? Be happy. Don't have a lot of food in your house? Be happy. Got fired? Be happy. What are you being happy about? You're happy simply because you CAN be happy. You are happy because you CHOSE to be happy. You are happy because being miserable doesn't feel good.
So, when you pursue happiness, what are you really pursuing? And most importantly, would this pursuit truly make you happy? If you think getting something in particular would make you happy, then you have already set yourself up for failure. When you base your happiness on something in particular, trust me, you will eventually be miserable again. Don't believe me? Just look at children. Happy one moment, miserable the next. Doesn't matter if they got one new game for Christmas. Their friends got two new games, so now they are miserable that they don't have two new games.
Whether or not things go your way, be happy. This takes practice. Nobody is naturally happy when life's outcomes aren't what they expected. Just train yourself now to be happy both in the rain and in the sunshine. You may not be all giddy and bubbly, but at least you could be at peace in any situation you find yourself in, whether good or bad.