Stop Trying to be ‘Happy’

How often do you hear someone say “Well, if it makes them happy…” or “I just want them to be happy…” as a reason to justify actions that might not actually be the best? This always rubs me the wrong way. I think that if our goal is to be happy, we’re searching for the wrong thing. Happiness is fleeting and it can change; it’s not Truth. There’s no specific formula for happiness and it can mean something different for different people. Happiness is wishy washy. What I believe we should all be searching for is the Truth, I mean an absolute truth, not ‘our own truth’ but Truth with a capital T – right from wrong and good from evil. I believe we all have the ability to reason and therefore find Truth logically. Truth does not change and it is something on which we can create a life.

There have been many times in my life that I used and still use happiness as a reason to make stupid, wrong and sinful decisions. My reasoning was faulty, but it was easier. My blog post Serial Quitter talks about how I had issues quitting on myself and overeating for the pleasure or “happiness” it provided me in the moment. The fleeting pleasure led ultimately to unhappiness. I also often quit things in the name of it not making me ‘happy’ anymore because the truth is that sticking to goals and leading a life of excellence is often difficult and requires sacrifices. Accomplishing a goal gives us true joy and joy comes from within – it’s not fleeting because it comes from God.

Why am I getting on a soap box about this? One, I am preaching to myself because I have been feeling a nudge or rather a push from the Holy Spirit to seek sainthood, to stop being lukewarm and seek the ultimate joy of this life – life with Christ in Heaven, but also because I seem to continually hear comments about how those who seek excellence are a bit too strict. Why would you choose Church over sleeping in? Why would you choose reading over mindless TV? Why would you care about your loved one’s decisions not being true or good if it makes them “happy”? I weigh every decision about this life with the knowledge that I am not made for this world, I am made for the next. Therefore, we shouldn’t be acting how the world acts, we should be taking our cues from the Saints, the angels and Jesus. I also believe that it is my job to work and to pray tirelessly for my family and friends to achieve sainthood as well.

This perspective changes everything. In all honesty, I have not been taking my spiritual life as seriously as I take my running or my work life, or even my home decor for goodness sake! However, this race, it’s not an option. I only get to run this race once and it is the only race that really matters – it is why I am here. I’m not saying this to make anyone feel shame or guilt, but to convict them. Stop trying to be happy, and start running the most important race of your life. Live a life of excellence.

Here’s a few of my favorite verses and quotes that you might use to ponder or post in a prominent place as reminders:

“To begin is for everyone, to persevere is for saints.” – Josemaria Escriva

“If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.” – Fulton Sheen

“Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want.”

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corintians 9:24

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
           It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” – Pope John Paul II

Let’s all start running a true race this year!