What’s keeping us from being happy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Recently, I was at a group where addiction was being talked about and alcohol was brought up. Why is it that some people will go and get the bottle knowing that it will only lead to suffering for them? Why do they keep doing it? The question could be asked of any of us. We do things that we know in the long run won’t bring us happiness and we don’t do things that we know will bring us happiness. Why?
Now I want to stress that in many ways, happiness can be fickle. What I am saying is that if one looks at what one has to be happy about in their life, that that will overpower what one has to be unhappy about. One can have both at the same time. I am not telling anyone to have a constant feeling, but more of a constant outlook.
So we all say we want to be happy, but perhaps that is the first thing we should question. Do we really want that? It’s not like we can push a button and immediately be happy. Something will have to change. Normally, it is not going to be our circumstances so much as our attitude towards life, but there are circumstances that will have to change sometimes.
What happens in the case of addiction? The problem is the person has taken a lesser good and cannot see that there is a greater good that awaits them, but that greater good can only be gained by dropping the lesser good. The good of sobriety is far greater than the good of being drunk by the bottle. (Keep in mind, I am not condemning all consumption of alcohol. I am condemning an unhealthy addiction to alcohol.) A person thinks the good of the feeling they get from pornography is something they don’t want to lose, not realizing that this is keeping them from a healthier and happier relationship with a true person of the opposite sex. A person might think it is good to be well-read and studied, but they don’t want to truly sacrifice all that time watching Netflix.
If you are not willing to make sacrifices for a greater good in your life, then you do not truly want that greater good. Any change in your life will require sacrifice of some sort. It might be time or possessions or a lifestyle, but it will require sacrifice. I am also not saying that it will be easy, but it is something that has to be done.
Another step we have to take is we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. We have to be able to step away from an area where we feel safe and be able to enter into an area where we might not feel safe yet in the hopes of our feeling safe. Now keep in mind I am not encouraging you to do anything reckless here. I am encouraging activities most of us know to be safe but others are fearful of.
For instance, in my own walk, I am terrified of being in water. As a child, the undertow introduced itself to me at the beach and I get terrified of water. My wife meanwhile loves the water and is a fish in it and it is my goal to somehow at least be competent in the water. What is safe is to stay on the edge and stay with my feet touching the ground. That is safe. That is comfortable, but I cannot be happy in the water if I stay safe. If I do not step out of my comfort zone, I will not be happy. In this case, it is worse. It will bring my wife great happiness when I step out of the comfort zone so I must have her happiness in mind as well.
Now of course, if this is something similar to what you face, I am not suggesting you do something drastic such as in my case just jumping in the deep end and hoping I learn. That would be stupid. For me it could involve classes at the Y. It would be a timely process, but it would still be something doable. As long as you are taking the steps that is what will matter. You take the steps wanting to reach that goal.
And yes, you must be willing to want it with all that you’ve got. No lighthearted effort will get you there. If anything, get angry about what has taken hold of your life and kept you from living it to the fullest. Whatever that is, that is your enemy and you must seek to destroy it.
Now if we remove safety, then we have to admit something else. We are not in control of our own lives. We cannot be living our lives on guard afraid of any change and expect to be happy. This is the point where I think being a Christian theist has its advantages. With this, whatever happens in my life, I can see it passes through the hands of God and He will use it for my benefit somehow. If I could truly grasp a passage like Romans 8, I wonder how much better off I’d be.
Keep in mind that if we are Christians, our lives are to be examples of joy. Paul could write about joy while in prison. It doesn’t mean we’re always going to be feeling great, but it does mean we will know deep down who is in charge and live accordingly. Frankly, I’ve said many time that the reason we often suffer so much is because we have a very poor theology. Good theology will lead to good living.
So today, I encourage you to really look at yourself and ask if you really want happiness. What are you willing to give for it? How much are you willing to pay? If the price is low, are you really wanting it at all?