Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pursuit of that Happy Feeling

            The United States Declaration of Independence states that the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right. Happiness isn’t guaranteed, but we can pursue the heck out of it. Pursuing happiness is an ambitious goal that not everyone can achieve, and when it is achieved, it’s not easy to keep. It is a constant pursuit. Though it is an admirable goal, it is not always correctly pursued. Often, we mistake the feeling of happiness for actual happiness, but they are not the same thing. One can stay, and one is always escaping our grasp.

            A feeling and a state of being are different, but they are often considered the same thing. When someone says, “I’m happy,” it can mean, “this thing makes me happy right now,” or, “I am fulfilled and satisfied with life and this is a true happiness I have obtained and can maintain, though I may not always feel happy.” There’s a difference between things that make us happy, and truly finding happiness. The feeling is always going to leave, but the state of being can stay for as long as you maintain it. Also, when you reach the state of happiness, it doesn't mean you will never be sad. It means you are ultimately happy with you life, though other feelings may come, but those feelings are temporary.

            It is human nature to chase a feeling. We want to find that next high, that next buzz, the ecstasy of a moment. The “high” feeling comes in many forms and can come from many things. The obvious ones are drug or alcohol induced highs. The more subtle ones are the exhilarating high of a moment, feeling in love, and even the elusive spiritual high. Pursing these highs from life is not bad. Sometimes we need them, like a nice little pick-me-up for when you’re feeling low, or the simple happiness chocolate brings.

            It’s a good thing to want to be happy and try to achieve that, but it’s bad when that’s all you pursue in life, and if the pursuit of that high becomes an addiction. The high will never satisfy, and it will never be like the first time you achieved it. I’ve asked many people about why they do something that they don’t like or even when they know it’s bad for them. The answer is always the same. It’s for the effect. It’s for that good feeling that makes you forget about every other bad feeling you have. It’s an escape. Again, trying to get that feeling isn’t bad, but here’s when it becomes a problem:

            Addicts of any kind are always surprised to find out that they are addicts. There are always excuses and denial of facts. It’s hard to make them believe they are addicted, and it’s something they have to discover for themselves. The same goes with people chasing that happy, good feeling. There is a list of symptoms of addiction, and a link below explains them.

            If addiction doesn’t happen, and depending on the high you’re seeking there’s plenty of opportunity for it not to happen, there’s another problem with seeking that high. It becomes all that matters to you. Another difference between chasing a feeling as opposed to a state of being, is that one is far more selfish, and the other doesn’t have to be. I think to achieve true happiness involves the consideration of others. You can’t truly be happy if what you’re doing is hurting someone else. 

            But when you’re chasing a feeling, no one else matters. All that matter is that you feel good. Often, you want to feel good at the expense of someone else. Substance abuse hurts those who love you. Wanting sex or pleasurable things just so that you can feel good, may hurt the other person. There are many ways of seeking that good feeling that makes you forget about other people. You may think to yourself, “But I’m happy. Shouldn’t they be happy for me?” If your happiness is a state of being, then yes, your loved ones should be happy for you. If you just have a happy feeling at the expense of someone else, then no, they don’t have to be happy for you. Why would they be happy for you if you’re hurting yourself or someone else? I’m not saying that chasing the high always hurts someone else. I’m saying it’s a problem when it does.

            The last concern I have for anyone chasing that good feeling, is that it affects your happiness in ways you may not notice. An extreme way comes with substance abuse. After the first high, substance abusers build a tolerance so that they need more next time in order to feel the same effects. Also, over time, without the substance, the abuser becomes incapable of feeling happy. In a less extreme way, those chasing any other kinds of highs can develop a similar tolerance. For example, someone chasing that “in love” feeling may feel dissatisfied and unhappy whenever he/she isn’t getting the high of feeling in love. If you live for that high, you lose appreciation for other moments of life. They may not be as exciting, but appreciating mundane moments is part of the true key to happiness.

            If you want a fulfilled and satisfying life, try to find a happy state of being. This involves finding happiness in little things, having the desire to make others happy, pursuing goals in life that may not satisfy right now, but will be a foundation for long term happiness later. A true happiness comes with love, which is the ultimate high (but the good kind). Feeling in love will fade, but being in love can last forever when maintained. It can be love for self, love for family and friends, love for a significant other, or even love for God. This love is much, much more than a feeling. It’s selfless, so you will find your happiness in making someone else happy. It’s committed, and often it’s sacrificial. I don’t believe someone can truly be happy without loving someone or something, including loving yourself.

Signs of Addiction:


  1. There is a certain joy of understanding God being in your life and being, a joining with that makes all life's rough spots manageable. You are right, the happiness we get from possessions is fleeting, but the joy from being one with God is ours to have always, regardless of our circumstances. The Bible says somewhere to not let anything rob you of your Joy. Hmmmmm....... I guess we can doubt it or feel we lost it at times.

    (regarding anohter blog) I agree with you about the sayings Christians have, I think they are repeated without much thought when trying to comfort. God is all we need is usually being said to people who have their basic needs met, but who are going through a crisis. The Message by Eugene Peterson para phrases the Beatiitudes (Matt 5) 3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

    and then there is : 8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

    Maybe people should say "God is what you need" instead of all you need. And as you explained it, He does offer us whatl we need in in this world all around us, if we can recognize it.

    1. I think you make a good point about Joy. I think Joy is the state of being happy and content with life, but it's easy to doubt that we have it.

      I also agree that people should say "God is what you need," because that's often what I want to tell people. But, my one of my major points was that God gave us a world full of people because we also need each other. So when someone goes to you in need, you can be the one to help them, while also reminding them of God.