Happiness vs. Peace

Jen at Et Tu? has an insightful post about our attempts to find happiness. She is reacting to one of those don't-worry-be-happy sayings people pass around in e-mail:

Our culture takes it for granted that the pursuit of happiness is a worthy and important goal. I always believed that too. But having observed the fruits of that worldview in my parents' generation, and having lived most of my life that way myself, I've come to believe that it ultimately leads to misery.

That last line, "never regret anything that made you smile," brings to mind so many examples of just where this worldview leads us astray. Sure, I smiled when I held my newborn baby or when I got married. But I also smiled that time I told a joke at another person's expense that got big laughs; I smiled when a dangerously unhealthy diet plan allowed me to be considered attractive by society's standards but left me at a weight that was clinically anorexic; I smiled when I heard that something bad happened to someone I really disliked. All of these things made me happy. None of them brought me peace.

I've come to believe that when we chase happiness, what we really want is peace.

Click here to read the rest. Jen's post matches something I've only recently started to figure out for myself. We all pursue things we think will make us happy - money, power, sex, drugs, sports, whatever. Maybe they do make us happy - but then we learn happiness isn't enough. We still don't have peace. Moreover, happiness for ourselves can often mean unhappiness for others.

How do you find peace? I can't claim to have the complete answer. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with discerning God's will and then accepting it. A lot of times this will lead us away from our own desires and toward helping others. There we often find peace and true happiness.

Is this easy? No, far from it. That's why there are so many unhappy people. Our propensity to sin discourages us from doing the things that will bring true peace. Yet we all have within us the ability to find peace. Take the first step, and God will lead you the rest of the way.

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