Summary: The quest for happiness is most times misconceived and futile especially when not in line with the word of God
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Ps 16: 7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Hosea 8: 1 Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. 2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. 3 Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. 4 They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. 5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? 6 For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. 7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. 8 Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.
The Lord had given me this topic when I ran into a beautiful movie on cable acted by Will Smith with the same title, just that the happiness was misspelled on purpose. It was a beautiful story of what a man had to go through in order to achieve happiness for himself and his family. However, for this message, what is relevant for us was the similarity of the name of the movie. The phrase is actually very popular in American as it comprises part of the American dream. Along with life and liberty, it is the most famous phrase in the American declaration of Independence and they all constitute what is referred as the inalienable right of man. This means that one of the reasons why the Americans fought for independence was the pursuit of happiness. Poems , books and songs have been written all over the world in celebration of the pursuit of happiness.
However, there is a recent study that I came across that proved very interesting when you look at the Christian perspective of happiness and why you must make a distinction between your pursuits in life. One Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard Professor of psychology and an expert in the study of happiness has made a recent finding along with three other top Professors in the U.S. These professors take the lead in the study of a specific type of emotional and behavioural prediction which questions the decision making process that shape our sense of well being. They ask, how do you predict what will make us happy or unhappy? How do we predict that we will feel when we buy a new car, or make N10 million, or when Chelsea wins the Champions’ League?
Studies have shown that almost every action is based on our predictions of the emotional consequences of these actions or events. What Professor Gilbert and his colleagues are saying now is that affective forecasting is overestimated and the intensity of our emotional reaction merely lasts the duration of the prediction. They are of the view that once the event occurs it no longer produces the level of emotions that we had predicted. This is true of both negative and positive events and this implies that the pursuit of happiness is most time futile.
I have come to find out that the reality of life is that usually each time you are desperate for something you often overrate the satisfaction that you will derive when you get that thing, and as soon as you possess it you soon realise that what you experience is an anticlimax. If you are not clear about your focus in life you find that life becomes a cycle of pursuit of things that has a disappointing effect at the end of the day. That is why a man who breaks one marriage almost always ends up never settling with one person all his life.
There is so much pursuit for happiness around us and yet all we see is pervading unhappiness. What we think will give us great pleasure almost always end up complicating our lives. Why is life so tricky for some people? Why does marriage breed so much happiness? Why do jobs that we so earnestly pray for ultimately cause us so much unhappiness? Why does a child ultimately destroy a toy that he was so desperate for only a few days ago?