Do me a favor. Finish this sentence: “I’d be happy if ______________”.
I’ll give you a minute.
Write it down if you want.
It can be more than one thing.
Got it? I bet a lot of us had common themes.
I’d be happy if I had more money.
I’d be happy if I had a better job or got into a certain school.
I’d be happy if my marriage/family issues were resolved.
I’m sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but your answer is an illusion.
Think of the times when you got a good job or bought a new car or got a new smartphone. It made you happy, sure. But for how long? A week? A month? The feeling those things provides you is fleeting. Before long, you find things about that job you don’t like. The car gets a few scratches. The phone is no longer the latest model. That’s because trying to gain happiness from these things will never fulfill us.
Tony Hale — the actor who played Buster on “Arrested Development” and Gary on “Veep” — recently gave an interview where he said he had an epiphany: “[I]f you’re not practicing contentment where you are, you’re not going to be content when you get what you want … .”
“[I]f you’re not practicing contentment where you are, you’re not going to be content when you get what you want … .”
Tony watched people desperately try to get important acting gigs, only to be disappointed when they finally got it because when they woke up the next morning, they were still the same person.
No matter what you used to fill in the blank, it cannot truly make you happy, because it won’t change who you are.
In order to be truly happy, we have to find our worth in something that will never fade, or break, or just plain get old.
“The guy who has the new cell phone” is an identity that won’t last.
“The girl with the adorable baby” identity will fade away over the years.
Having more money just leads to wanting more money, not happiness.
Honestly, this is a huge part of why my faith is important to me. If it’s true that I was created by a God who loves me, I don’t have to derive my self-worth from stuff or situations. Instead, I can be happy in the midst of any situation, since my happiness comes from an entirely different place. It’s only when I anchor my happiness in that which will not change, that I can truly be happy.
Shawn Johnson talks about this in her recent I Am Second film. She was getting her self-worth from the results of her athletic performance and it wasn’t until she started looking to a different source that she found happiness in her identity.
So let’s tweak that question at the start of this post. Instead of “I’d be happy if ___________”, let’s play with a new sentence: “I’m happy because ___________”.
What are the things that will never change and which make you truly happy in life? That come hell or high water, you can always turn to?
For me, I have found that the only answer that helps me to be content is this: “I’m happy because I believe God loves me.”
Throw a comment in and tell me what your answer is, because I believe every human is valuable and deserves to know they matter.