Happiness is the goal?

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Often times, when I choose to do the things I want, I often hear people approve by saying: “As long as that makes you happy, then go for it.”

I bought that kind of thinking. That is, by making decisions in the pursuit of the easy and accessible pleasures. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be happy? As far as I know, only a fool does. But not the typical ones.

However, as I began to think and ponder enough about being a hedonist (that’s the term!), with the help of several wise people, I came to the conclusion that what I often want turns out to be what I do not really want and would not want (if I can look back at the rearview mirror).

Life is fraught with stories of determined people who found themselves bankrupt along with their hopes and dreams. While some of them recovered and were restored, yet we can’t ignore the fact that a lot of them didn’t. For instance, a news was documented about a man who left a note before taking his own life in Las Vegas (a glittering city of gambling), which sums up a sobering reality: “Here there are no answers.”

In a book Happiness Is a Choice, a staggering reality was observed by its authors. Dr. Paul Meier, lays it out:

As a point of clarification, Dr. Minirth and I are convinced that many people do choose happiness but still do not obtain it. The reason for this is that even though they choose to be happy, they seek for inner peace and joy in the wrong places. They seek for happiness in materialism and do not find it. They seek for joy in sexual prowess but end up with fleeting pleasures and bitter long-term disappointments. They seek inner fulfillment by obtaining positions of power in corporations, in government, or even in their own families (by exercising excessive control), but they remain unfulfilled. I have had millionaire businessmen come to my office and tell me they have big houses, yachts, condominiums in Colorado, nice children, a beautiful mistress, an unsuspecting wife, secure corporate positions—and suicidal tendencies. They have everything this world has to offer except one thing—inner peace and joy. They come to my office as a last resort, begging me to help them conquer the urge to kill themselves.[2]

From the previous stories, we can arrive at the conclusion that to say that happiness is the goal of life is to miss the whole point of life itself. Rather, the whole point of life is to find Him whom happiness itself becomes secondary. I’m talking about God. To know and enjoy Him forever.

I think C. S. Lewis was right: Human history is “the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” And then he went on to say that “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”[3] In other words, happiness or pleasure must derive itself from God. Or as what the Psalmist said, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (16:11).


[1] Adam Goldman, “The Suicide Capital of America” AP News, February 9, 2004, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-suicide-capital-of-america/ (accessed February 2, 2016).

[2] Frank M.D. MinirthDr. Paul Meier, Happiness Is A Choice (Baker Books, 2007).

[3] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.