The Search for Happiness
he search for happiness is as old as mankind. Hedonism, an ancient Greek philosophy, stated that the chief end of man was happiness. Democritus, who lived in 460 BC, said, "Happiness is the object of our conduct." And Aristipus, a pupil of Socrates, put it this way. "The most intense pleasure is the highest good and is the aim of life."
On the University campus the highest death rate is caused by suicide. Hospital beds are filled with unhappy and lonely people. Some doctors estimate that over 80 percent of patients are suffering as a result of emotional distress. A world-famous psychiatrist claims that "the central neurosis of our time is emptiness." And according to the United Nations World Health Organization, depression is the world's number one health problem.
Marilyn Monroe had everything that many seem to think brings happiness—beauty, wealth, fame, sex appeal, and popularity—but she ended her life in suicide. It is claimed that Voltaire who was famous for his infidelity said on his death bed, "I am lost! Oh, that I had never been born." And millionaire Jay Gould said when dying, "I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth."
Actually, wealth, fame, power, beauty … neither make one happy or unhappy. They are externals. Happiness comes from within. It is a by-product of an inner condition. If one lives only for personal happiness, he will probably never find it. As one person said, "The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness."
Happiness is many things to many people. It depends on one's particular needs, abilities, interests, and maturity.
The search for happiness is one of
the chief sources of unhappiness.
Happiness for one man is to be an accountant, for another a farmer. Happiness for one woman is not to have any more children, for another to have several more.
For me, happiness begins with being honest with myself and learning to understand and accept myself for who and what I really am. This way I can utilize my strengths and work towards overcoming my weaknesses.
Happiness also means learning to accept my personal circumstances—the negative as well as the positive. Some of them can be changed. Others can't. And unless I accept the one's that can't be changed, I'll never be happy.
As blind Helen Keller said, "I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God."
Happiness is also having a worthwhile goal—a noble purpose for which to live—something of value to strive for.
I was once talking to a union representative on a construction job. At the time he was also demonstrating for a cause that was popular back then. He told me he joined this group because it gave him something to live for. I don't know if this man is still demonstrating for a cause, but certainly everybody needs something to live for other than himself and his own happiness.
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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