Author: The Rev. Dr. David Bridges, Priest
August 16, 2021

Does happiness come from our circumstances, or from within us? If from within us, then can happiness be programmed into our minds as a norm, rather than an exception? What is real happiness?

I remember living in the hills of Tennessee when our boys were little. We were truly poor, financially speaking, but we were happy. We had some difficult years, but when I look back on those years, I know we were happy. What causes happiness?

Depending on who you ask, there are various ways to achieve happiness. Pleasure brings us happiness, although usually for limited periods of time (i.e.: eating chocolate, seeing someone we love, buying something new, etc.). Challenge brings us happiness; using skills that require our attention and that produce measurable results (i.e.: building a bird house, fixing a computer, restoring an automobile, etc.). Doing something that has lasting Meaning can bring us happiness (volunteer work, community service work, charitable giving, etc.).

Ultimately, happiness is a choice. Since we can choose to do things that make us happy, we should be able to control our happiness. But, how can we be happy if everything around us is falling apart? And how do we really know what can make us happy? Happiness seems to elude far too many people. This is where faith and mysticism come in.

Jesus told his disciples: “… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear … can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matthew 6:25-27, NRSV) Happiness begins by not worrying. But what about the unforeseen occurrences in life that threaten our happiness? That is the “but” of it: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [that you need] will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NRSV)

Happiness begins within our minds and hearts. By focusing on the kingdom of God, rather than purely selfish endeavors, we can begin to learn real happiness. Why are so many people depressed, lonely, angry, addicted, hungry, homeless, or in trouble? Maybe because eighty percent (80%) of the citizens of our State and Nation are not involved with and regularly attending any church.

Does church bring happiness? Not always. Does a focused, healthy Christian life lead us to happiness? It should. Can attending church help us learn to be kingdom focused? It can. But be careful when choosing religious structures; many are dangerous in themselves. Look for friends in a faith community that are on a healthy spiritual journey of self-reflection and self-improvement.

Who has the responsibility to make you happy? You do! Remember this: It is not up to life to make you happy; it is up to you to make life happy. Glory to God!

Blessings and Peace to You All,
Fr. David+  


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