What Does it Mean to Be Happy?

In J.P. Moreland's book The God Question, he asks the question "Why Can't I Be Happy?".  This is a question that haunts all of us today, it seems.  Everyone that we talk to seems to be on a quest for something that will give their life meaning.  Whether it's a better job, a bigger house, or enough money to go on that special vacation, it seems that we are all aware that there is something needed to "make us happy".  And the funny this is that once we achieve our goal, we find that the thing we've been pursuing doesn't actually bring the happiness we thought.

Jack Higgins, the author of The Eagle Has Landed, once offered the following observation.  He said "I wish somebody had told me then that when you get to the top there's nothing there."  He was expressing what we all know deep down.  No matter how much we achieve, it's never enough.  It's never going to give us that sense of happiness that we are all seeking.

One thought is that perhaps our definition of happiness is, itself, the problem.

In The God Question, Moreland offers some us some help.  He demonstrates how modern society has redefined the word happiness, replacing the classical definition that has been in use for thousands of years.  He says:

"According to the ancients, happiness is a life well lived, a life of virtue and character, a life that manifests wisdom, kindness and goodness.  For them, the life of happiness, the life about which to dream and fantasize, for which to hunger and seek, and which should be imitated and practiced, is a life of virtue and character.  At its center, such a life includes a very deep sense of well-being, but ths sense should not be confused with pleaasurable satisfaction."

Moreland seems to be on the right track here.  I believe all of us can benefit by adopting this definition of happiness.  May God grant us the wisdom to pursue a life of virtue and character, rather than seeking after "pleasurable satisfaction".


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