Where Does Happiness Live?

close up photo of lion s head

1Corinthians 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 

When I was a child, my grandmother would set me on the table in front of her and she would recite every nursery rhyme ever known to our culture.

As I learned to read I took advantage of the books that were present in dusty boxes in our upstairs storage room. I read many stories from that cache of books such as Gene Stratton Porter’s Laddie, and Ellery Queen’s Spanish Cape Mystery, and the third, fourth grade and sixth grade Catholic readers, filled with stories of everything from inventions in the early years of our country and fairy tales.

My children loved to have me read to them those same fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Doctor Seuss was added to the mix and new books with new stories. The Teeny Tiny Woman was my almost least favorite story but one the kids took special delight in as well as The Boy and the North Wind.

In that story, a young Norwegian boy goes to the granary for some meal and the North wind blows it away out of his bowl. After the third happening of the wind blowing the meal (perhaps corn meal, or barley, or wheat flour) the boy becomes angry and trudges off to confront the North wind.

Those are fascinating stories that personify objects such as the wind, clouds, or whatnot and like Aesop’s fables, they are designed to teach. Odd how we often find ourselves out trudging from one venue to another looking for things—things such as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in hopes we’ll find what makes us happy.

I’ve wondered if we can trudge off in search of the North, South, East wind, or the Sun or Moon… where does happiness live? Could we just go off on a quest and bring happiness back for everyone?

On a number of occasions I have asked kids “Did you have fun?” And many times they answer yes. My follow-up question is did you put some in your pocket so you can have more fun later? Better yet, did you bring me some?

Someone had to ask those questions and I was the one. Finding fun? Fun is fun, but it’s not happiness. There is a meme that says something to the effect of, I prefer quietness without drama. Scripture puts it this way:

“Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”

Yet, some people attract drama everywhere they go and seem to enjoy the soap opera mentality. That isn’t fun or happiness. But what rings one person’s bell doesn’t always trigger another person’s buzzer.

Where does happiness live? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

No one is guaranteed happiness, only the license to pursue it within bounds. And therein lies the rub, so to speak. The pursuit of happiness. Some people immerse themselves in work and labor in the pursuit of happiness.

“Eccliastes 4:8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.”

Some people look for happiness in companionship—“Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”

Some humans travel the world over, some people accomplish mind boggling adventures, some people go to extraordinary lengths in search of fulfillment.

“Job_5:17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:”

Job 5:17 is interesting. The happiness part for me doesn’t always follow. I may count being corrected a blessing after I’ve had time to reflect on the correction part of it, but not usually at the moment of the correction. And I may never count myself as happy.

“Psalm_127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

At one time children were considered a blessing. I should repeat that idea since it is so foreign to our world today. At one time children were seen as a link to the future, a comfort, and a resource for old age. I don’t know when children became a burden, but I’m guessing it came with the shift from a farm/rural society to an urban society.

In a farm setting children were usually seen as future helpers. Certainly, they had to be provided for, but at some point, their labor more than made up for their upkeep.

We have noted that people search for happiness in a multitude of ways and places. I wouldn’t even venture a guess at how many people find the happiness they would like to have. Perhaps what happens is just a conglomerate of little decisions made without a significant goal in mind and at the end of life, it has been what it has been.

There are a number of things in my world that bring happiness, one of which at this moment would be to find the notes that lead to the wrap-up of this post. A few days ago I found an article on end-of-life care.

One of the main takeaway advice given is the rocking chair test. Not finding the notes, I’ll have to summarize. Pretend you are sitting in your rocking chair near the end of your life. In looking back what do you want to be remembered for, what do you want to have accomplished?

In listening to Jordan Peterson talking about personalities and behavior and differences between men and women he had some remarkable insights.

In times past these qualities would not have been surprising. That anyone was brave enough to say them in our society is the surprise today. He was speaking about times past when women with outstanding scholastic accomplishments, through school years, college, and even into the business world.

Young women would get to a certain age, usually about the age of thirty, and they would be looking at entering the corporate hierarchy. Suddenly they look around and realize their life is slipping away and… they don’t especially like where they are, or what life is showing them. They aren’t all that keen on the nine-to-five and busting their tail. The being to work early, staying late, taking work home and in short, their life revolving around their corporate job isn’t what fulfills them.

They want more. It could be the rocking chair test. The idea of sitting in the rocking chair at the end of their life—alone—doesn’t resonate well with those women.

Add to that the problem of women having a biological time clock. There is something tiring about chasing a toddler, and it’s magnified at forty years old and beyond. Honestly, it is easier to mom children at a younger age than when you get older.

Lately, some younger women have voiced the idea that they don’t want children and they are thinking about sterilization so they never have to worry about pregnancy. If they don’t want children that’s the way to go. In my opinion, they won’t find happiness on that path, and their rocking chair test will be lacking, but it is better than the alternative.

Happiness—where to go for happiness? Is it like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz says:  “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

When we realize the phrase the best place to be is in someone’s heart, prayers, and thoughts, isn’t just a phrase. It’s a truth.

The scriptures tell us things about happiness. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and it’s also the beginning of finding happiness. All of the searching for happiness won’t bring happiness if we don’t have God.

When we do have God no matter where we are, God will bring us what we need. Contentment is the path to finding the completeness we search for.

“Psalm 128:2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.”

“1Timothy 6:

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”