“Happiness is a by-product of living the right kind of a life.” This is a quote from my daily meditation book, “Twenty-Four Hours a Day” by Hazelden. So powerful is this message that Hazelden found it necessary to repeat it several times throughout the year, like, if they repeat it often enough, the reader will finally get it. I got it. It took some chinking away at the armor, but I got it.
I’ve written about happiness before, something we all search for, right up there in importance with “What is the purpose of life?” We all want to be happy, it is a much better feeling than otherwise—angry, lonely, the feeling that something is missing.
In fact, that’s how I found the love of my life—Ginnie. I wrote about happiness, she responded by email, and, quick like Curtis thinks, I invited her to lunch at the Riverside Restaurant in Ottumwa. A few months later, on her birthday, I took her back to the Riverside “for a birthday dinner” and surprised her with a diamond. I even bribed the waiters into singing, “Going to the Chapel” by The Dixie Cups, when I, on my knees, proposed. Call me a Romantic. (Fortunately she said, “Yes!”)
So, happiness includes sharing your life with someone you love. “Happiness cannot be sought directly, it is a byproduct of love and service.”
Then, the third rung on the stool of happiness, and the most important: God. “To truly desire to do God’s will, therein lies happiness for a human being.” The three-rung stool of happiness, for me and countless others, includes living the right kind of life, finding someone to share it with, and God. Or, reverse that and happiness equals God, plus a loving partner, plus living the right kind of life.
And just what is the “right kind of life?” It usually involves getting out of self and serving others. “The elimination of selfishness is the key to happiness.”
You may want to throw in health as a key component to happiness. Good health is so important to us all. However, I’ve known, and written about, some people who have been gravely ill, but still found pleasure and solace in helping others.
“‘In Thy presence is fullness of joy.’ We cannot find true happiness by looking for it. Seeking pleasure does not bring happiness in the long run, only disillusionment. Do not seek to have this fullness of joy by seeking pleasure. It cannot be done that way. True happiness comes as a result of living in all respects the way you believe God wants you to live.”
Material possessions do not bring happiness. I recently achieved something I’ve been wanting for eons. When I finally got it (I won’t even tell you what it is), it turned to ashes in my mouth.
Growth comes through service work, whether it be church, community, political organizations, world-wide organizations, or just helping out a friend, or a stranger. Growth and happiness are synonymous. (Oddly, the process of growth can be painful.)
Remember: you’re not being benevolent if you help out a stranger but stiff a family member. It starts in the home and spreads outward. Am I the same person to the world as I am at home? I know I’m not. But progress is what counts, rather than perfection. We will never reach perfection in this lifetime. It’s the striving that counts, the journey.
“Life is not a search for happiness. Happiness is a by-product of living the right kind of a life, of doing the right thing. Do not search for happiness, search for right living and happiness will be your reward. Happiness will come as God’s smile of recognition of your faithfulness. True happiness is always the by-product of a life well lived.”