Why Life Isn’t About Happiness

Finding happiness is a universal mission. The majority of us are compelled to pursue happiness throughout our lives, searching for the objects that we think will make us happy. Unfortunately, society’s concept of happiness is deeply, inherently flawed. While most people think of happiness as the acquisition, accumulation, or achievement of objects, true happiness can never be the object of human acquisition. Instead, it must be a lifestyle in and of itself.

Here is the most common misconception about happiness: “Once I achieve __________, I will finally be happy.” You can fill in the blank with just about anything—a new car, retirement, a new job, romantic love—and the result will always be failure. That’s why people often say things such as, “I thought I would be happy once I got that promotion, but I’m not.”

The reason that happiness cannot be acquired through achieving objects is that objects go away. By their very nature, objects aren’t sustainable. Indeed, as soon as you achieve the goal of getting that promotion, that car, or that relationship, human nature compels you to start aiming for another, seemingly better goal that will finally make you happy.

This process is exhausting, since nothing ever truly makes you happy, no matter how many goals you achieve. Houses go away, cars go away, and jobs go away. In the end, all you’re left with is yourself. And most people are not happy with themselves so they aren’t happy at all. That’s why life isn’t about happiness—it’s about finding joy, fulfillment, and meaning in ourselves. This isn’t a new revelation. In fact, great philosophers such as Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Augustine all came to the same conclusion.

The main challenge we all face is how to achieve joy in ourselves when we’re not satisfied with the reality of our lives. How can you be joyful when you don’t have what you want? How can you be joyful when you realize that your problems won’t be solved? The answer is that you must learn to leave your goals to divine intent. If you leave your ambitions up to God, you won’t have to chase after goals. Instead, they’ll come to you.

True joy comes from the application of your given gift to the opportunities you’re given. The process of giving your gift to others will bring you closer to the Divine Intent in your life. In turn, you will find a renewed sense of hope, faith, love, and connection to those around you. Joy is living in the moment today, so that tomorrows don’t get in the way. You must ask yourself, “What can I do today to make a difference in the word? What gift do I have that can help others by better engaging the opportunities that come my way? What should really be on my bucket list?” In answering these questions, you will finally find joy and gratification in all areas of your life.