What is happiness?


Hi, this is Kathleen Diaz, greeting you and hoping you are doing well. The summer is here, and the sun has been warming up Southern California. To me, this brings joy to my heart. But what is joy? What is happiness? Do they have the same definition? 

Joy in the dictionary is defined as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” Happiness is defined as “good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.” So, it seems that the definition will agree with our daily purpose to pursue happiness and joy. 

Many great thinkers have pondered what it means to be happy. Is it controlled by our environment, or is happiness achieved by my perspective of my surroundings? Aristotle defines it this way: “Happiness depends on us.” Aristotle enshrines happiness as the purpose of life and the ultimate goal. This Greek philosopher pondered happiness and wrote essays on the meaning of happiness. 

In the Bible, we encounter another great philosopher and thinker who dedicated many verses to tackle some deep questions. Let me share with you Ecclesiastes 1:3: “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?” I can imagine him going over all his achievements and all the hard work in different projects and not having satisfaction or happiness. 

And he continues as we jump to Ecclesiastes 1:16: “I said to myself. ‘Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.’” and yet his happiness was not there. 

To me, his conclusion comes to an answer in Ecclesiastics 3:1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” And the chapter continues as he arrived at the conclusion that happiness is not having a perfect life, rather it’s about accepting the season in life. Easier said than done. Who likes to go through the experience of suffering? But the ultimate happiness described in the Bible is the combination of life experiences: some good and some bad, but all of them part of our life. 

Happiness does not necessarily bring joy. But happiness brings acceptance of life events. Verse 11 of chapter 3 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That they each may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” 

Happiness is a gift from God. If it is a gift from God, that means that we may be chasing what we believe will bring happiness to our lives, and it will not. Accepting the situation we are going through and understanding God is in control, in accepting the stages of life, I encourage you to pursue a happiness that is not temporary but a happiness that has its roots down in accepting it is a gift from God. Let us ask God to share with us this gift so we are not chasing happiness but we let God fulfill His plans in us.