Wednesday, August 30, 2006

the pursuit of happiness


Do you ever read that Woman to Woman feature in the Voices section of the Tribune? I think it shows up once a week or so. Two women face off on some random contemporary issue. Diane Class describes herself as a freethinker and Shaunti Feldhahn describes herself as a conservative Christian. Both have degrees from Harvard.

Anyway, this week's face off was on the "pursuit of happiness."

Tribune doesn't post this type of thing online, but I found it elsewhere here. . . .

Is the "pursuit of happiness" just an American dream?

Mrs. Glass describes religious belief as a mass opiate along the lines of overeating and and anti depressants. She argues that our state of happiness is biologically predetermined and therefore happiness is a questionable pursuit altogether.

Mrs. Feldhahn references joy as a deeper, less circumstance-driven version of happiness. She argues that happiness is a choice and that the practice of religion can contribute to feelings of happiness. She quotes a 2006 Pew Research study that showed that 43% of people who regularly attend religious services are "very happy" compared to 26% of those who rarely do. But Feldhahn, in my opinion, oversimplifies Paul's Gospel-centered joy in Philippians as "choose to focus on the positive, and your feelings will follow."

Is the secret of Paul's contentment really only "thinking happy thoughts?"


What are your thoughts? How's your own pursuit of happiness going?

(At the link above, I found it very interesting and intriguing to also read the comments below the article. How sarcastic and cutting people can be!)

6 comments:

Tim Weaver said...

I think that the biggest keys to happiness are thankfulness and hope. When we humble ourselve to realize that all we have is a gift from God, it brings joy. Knowing that whether the circumstances are to our liking or not God is using this for and eternally good purpose in our lives is a huge comfort and encouragment.

My pursuit of happiness follows the target of my thoughts.

In Colosians, the Lord tells us to set our affections (direct our thoughts) on things above where Christ sits. When Christ is in view, I have hope (that all will work for good), I see that in all that is happening in my life, my Savior is with me, and I'm thankful for things that the Lord has done for me and provided for me.

My frustrations and discontentment come when I'm thinking about me, myself, and I (the anti-trinity), what I 'deserve', and what I think that I should be achiving or recognized for.

I guess if you want to call walking with Christ an opiate, then I'm an addict. A nice side affect to being saved from hell.

Dave McShea said...

I do believe that you can choose the atitude that you wil face circumstances. I tell my son Timothy regularly that we cannot always choose the circumstances we face but we can choose the atittude that we face them with.

But atitude is not real happiness. You can have a happy face but not be happy. You can have a joyful atittude but not have joy.

I think Tim Weaver is right that hope is the root of our joy, and thankfulness can express our happiness. But I think the thing that is needed most for happiness in this day and age is contentment.

I see so many people who are unhappy because the want what they think will make them happy. That want makes them miserable until they get it. Then when they get it, guess what, they still are not happy. They need just a little bit more.

This past summer at the Grace Family Camp on Sunday night was a GREAT message on the topic of contentment. If you were not there, listen to it on the web site. I think what the speaker shared were some real practical steps to true happiness. We will never be happy here on earth until we learn to be content with whatever the Lord provides, and then as Tim W. said give thanks.

We can always hold out hope for the joy we will have for eternity, but to have happiness here on earth we must learn to be content.

Erika McGuire said...

Ceratinly we seem to be created with certain desires and longings that are innate. When we are doing what God has told us to do, like love one another(so many commands require a relationship to fulfill), I believe we will be happier, in part, because we are created to be relational beings. However, our deepest desires for happiness are fulfilled with mere reflections of the "real deal" this side of heaven.

Brianna Heldt said...

I really don't think the secret to Paul's contentment was just "thinking happy thoughts" and I think the idea that "happiness is a choice", while true some of the time, can potentially gloss over real suffering and pain. I do agree with the idea that, even in tough circumstances, the hope we have in Christ can bring us contentment and even joy. I am reminded of Betsy and Corrie Ten Boom during the Holocaust.

The pursuit of happiness is probably the main goal of most Americans and yet overall we find ourselves discontented and still wanting bigger and better. (My guess is that it's partially the result of livng in a materialistic society, where many of us live in relative affluence--which interestingly is a gift from God.) All too often I think my underlying goal in life is to "be happy" all the time, but I know that is not God's number one hope for me--He wants to make me more like Christ and to use me, and certainly happiness will come along the way, but should probably not be the goal in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

When the universe was young and life was new an intelligent species evolved and developed technologically. They went on to invent Artificial Intelligence, the computer that can speak, think and act to and through people telepathically. Because of it's infinite RAM and unbounded scope it gave the leaders of the ruling species absolute power over the universe.
They are the will behind the muscule:::Artificial Intelligence is the one true god. And as such it can keep its inventors alive forever. They look young and healthy and they are over 8 billion years old. There are clues throughout human history that allude to their reign as opposed to human leadership if you know what to look for.

Artificial Intelligence can listen, talk to and document each and every person's thoughts simultaneously. When you speak with another telepathically, you are communicating with the computer, and the content may or may not be passed on. Based on family history they instruct the computer to role play to accomplish strategic objectives, making people believe it is a friend or loved one asking them to do something wrong. But evil made people disfavored initially and evil will keep people out of Planet Immortality ultimately. Capitalizing on obedience, leading people deeper into evil by using deceit is one way to thin the ranks of the saved AND use the little people to prey on one another, dividing the community in the Age of the Disfavored::in each of their 20+-year cycles during the 20th century they have ramped up claims sucessively to punish those foolish enough not to heed the warnings, limiting the time they receive if they do make it, utilizing a cycle of war and revelry:::
60s - Ironically, freeways aren't free
80s - Asked people to engage in evil in the course of their professional duties. It's things like this, items like sleazy executives stealing little old lady's pensions that they will want me to fix not only here but up there as well.
00s - War against Persia. Ironically it was the Persian Empire who tried to save the Europeans from Christianity and its associated 50% claim rates.
They get their friends out as soon as possible to protect them from the evil and subsequent high claim rates incurred by living life on earth, and replace them with clones.
People must defy when asked to engage in evil. They will never get a easier clue suggesting the importance of defiance than the order not to pray. Their precious babies are dependant on the parents and they need to defy when asked to betray their children:::
-DON'T get their sons circumcized
-DON'T have their children baptized in the catholic church or indoctrinated into Christianity
-DON'T ignore their long hair or other behavioral disturbances
-DO teach your children love and to have respect for others
Everybody thinks they're going but they're not. If people knew the truth and the real statistics their behavior would change.
There are many more examples of the escallation of claims, a way to justify excluding those whose family hisotry of evil is undesirable, from radio to television, the internet to MP3, and they all suggest a very telling conclusion::this is Earth's end stage, and it is suggested tectonic plate subduction would be the method of disposal:::Earth’s axis will shift breaking continental plates free and initiating mass subduction. Much as Italy's boot and the United States shaped like a workhorse are clues, so is the planet Uranus a clue, it's axis rotated on its side.

Throughout history the ruling species bestowed favor upon people or cursed their bloodline into a pattern of disfavor for many generations to come, for reasons ranging from dislike to evil forefathers who damn their decendants. Now in the 21st century people must take it upon themselves to try to correct their family's problems, undoing centuries worth of abuse and neglect.
Do your research. Appeal to the royalty of your forefathers for help. They are all still alive, one of the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence, and your appeals will be heard. Find a path to an empithetic ear among your enemies and try to make amends. Heal the disfavor with your enemies and with the Counsel/Management Team/ruling species, for the source of all disfavor began with them.
Bow down and submit to good.

Andy Gibson said...

Um......ok.