• Joe Henkel

Please STOP making happiness your life goal (This goal sucks)

I've heard it so many times, "I just want to be happy." Or someone will say, "I'm just gonna do what makes me happy." It seems like everyone wants to be happy. It makes sense, everyone naturally wants to be happy. The problem though is when someone makes being happy their life goal. Honestly, I think this goal sucks if it is someone's primary life ambition.

Happiness is a good desire, but it is terrible to have as the ultimate goal. 

Here's the problem with happiness. It is so elusive. Is there anyone who is always completely happy? Happiness is a single emotion. If happiness is the goal, one would be chasing an emotional experience. Even if it was possible, would you truly want to experience the same emotion all the time. The animated movie Inside Out reminds us that there is a place for every emotion. The characterized emotions in the movie realize that "Joy" is not more important, just because she is liked more than the other emotions.

Another reason that happiness is a terrible life ambition is that we often face depression and extended times of sadness and grief. Sometimes we feel stuck in a certain emotional state and we don't know how to make ourselves happy. If happiness was the ultimate goal in life, it would mean that in seasons of depression we are wasting our lives. This could even lead someone in despair to thinking their life is vain, if they don't envision happiness in their future.

What if doing wrong makes someone happy? Someone might find happiness in hurting others. Someone might convince themselves that the only way they will be happy is if they do something wrong or harmful to another person. The claim that this person "just needs to be happy" would be wrong for them and to the person they desire to harm. If this individual is simply pursuing hapiness, they might steal someone else's hapiness in order to obtain it.

If happiness should not be one's life goal, what should be someone's goal? I'm convinced that scripture answers this question. In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon, the wisest man ever, is on a search for satisfaction in life. In the first ten chapters of his book Solomon elaborates on all the things he looked to for satisfaction and purpose. He concluded that all those things were vanity. In the last chapter of this book, Solomon tells the reader the the results of his search. He explains that the meaning of life was not found in happiness, stuff, or relationship. He realizes that true purpose and satisfaction is only found in the one who made him. He says in Ecclesiastes 12:13, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. - King Solomon

After searching for satisfaction, he is led to remember the truth about God. He concludes that the complete duty of humanity is to "fear God, and keep his commmandments." The ultimate life purpose for all of humanity is to fear(have reverence for) and obey their creator. This means that we should truly worship the one who made us. We should know His Word(commandments) and obey his desires for our lives. Our ultimate goal must be to have a worshipful reverence and obedience for the one who made us. 

Happiness is a good thing, but it can never be the main thing. If one's main goal in life is to be continually happy, he or she will never accomplish that quest.  The aim to be Happy is a good desire and happiness is a wonderful emotion, but one will never truly accomplish his purpose in life unless he is following God. The encouraging truth is that joy and satisfaction comes as a result of a pursuit of God (Psalm 84:12, Phil. 2:1-2). The ultimate goal cannot be hapiness. Our primary pursuit must be God and true satisfaction and joy will come as a result of our relationship with Him.

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