4 Myths About Finding Happiness

At the root of every New Year’s Resolution is the desire to be happy. Why do we want to change this or that in our life? Why do we want to accomplish this or that goal? What I hear from others and even in my own heart is, “I just want to be happy.” If happiness is a common goal, why is it that we are so bad at finding it?

4 Myths About Finding Happiness

1. Happiness is a good goal in life. It’s true that we all want to be happy but happiness shouldn’t be the goal. Eleanor Roosevelt captured this well when she said, “Happiness is not a goal…it’s the by product of a life well-lived.” The more a person focuses on being happy the unhappier they usually are.

2. Happiness is when things work out right. Thank goodness this isn’t true because things never work out in my life nor I expect yours either. I read a story about an accountant whose job was to find and correct mistakes in financial documents. He took that same “skill set” home where he set up a spreadsheet to help find and correct his wife’s mistakes.” That man wasn’t happy!

And yet I think that we pursue the same approach to happiness by trying to “find and fix” everything in our life. But happiness isn’t predicated on things going just right. The Bible is full of stories of people who experienced happiness in the middle of trying circumstances. For just one example think of the apostle Paul writing Philippians while under arrest. He used some form of the word “joy” 40 times in that short letter.

3. “I’ll be happy when…” A character in a novel I read (I think Fault in our Stars, but I’m unsure) was described as having “mastered the ability to be unhappy wherever she was.” By itself, changing circumstances rarely makes us happier. A new job, relationship, city, waistline won’t make you happier. The same is true for more money. Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks put it this way: “If you weren’t happy yesterday, you won’t be happy tomorrow. It’s money. It’s not happiness.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.

You can almost insert anything you want instead of “money”.

4. Happiness depends on everything being perfect. A couple years ago my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary by taking a short trip to San Francisco. One of the highlights was a tour of Alcatraz which is the prison on the island right off the coast. Standing where so many lived for decades I was able to look the short distance across the ocean and see a beautiful city bustling with people. What would it be like to be imprisoned on Alcatraz but always have “paradise” visible but never attainable?

We put ourselves in that situation when we think we will be happy when life is perfect. That’s never going to happen. The perfect job, fitness level, kids, spouse, house is not attainable in this life. They don’t exist!

The Bible says a lot about happiness and you can be sure that it’s truth, not myth.

Jesus tells us that it’s more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). In other words when you give your life away serving God and others, you’ll find happiness.

He also tells us in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) that it is the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted, that find happiness.

There’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to be happy. It’s a God-given desire. But let’s stop believing the same myths and look to truth so we will find the happiness we long for.

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