The happiness lie
by Christie Browning
While scrolling through my social media channels, I ran across a post from a gal outlining a number of circumstances that had unfolded in her young life. As the post spelled out a list of choices made and best intentions laid, she closed with an ultimatum…
“As long as I’m happy, that should be all that matters to my family and my true friends.”
My heart sank as I read this statement because I know the truth…. Happiness is a lie.
When it comes to measuring right choices, happiness is a poor barometer. Any parent will tell you that while they love their child, there are times that child is unhappy – and is frequently unhappy with the ruling a parent has made on whether that child should play in traffic, eat ice cream for breakfast or stay up all hours of the night. In no way does a parent make choices for their child based on what makes them happy. The parent knows that while it might make them happy in the moment, the long-term results will be negative. Therefore, a brief cry or temper-tantrum session is worth it in order to keep a child safe, healthy and stable.
I see a world that is not only motivated by instant gratification but is infatuated with the decision-making process based solely on what makes them happy or “feels” right. Mantras such as "You only live once" convey an ongoing trend that uses emotions as a base for decision making, morals, and values.
I don’t know about you but my emotions tend to shift with the wind and although going to the office on Monday morning doesn’t always feel good, my boss tends to smile when I show up anyway. And although it may feel right in the moment to spend money on the flashy thing that has caught my eye, my mortgage company tends to appreciate their timely payment each month. You see where I am going with this, right? Sometimes responsibilities, commitments, and obligations aren’t fun. They don’t always feel good or make us squeal with Christmas-morning delight. However, our adult brains tell us that the temporary pain paid into the account of responsibility will reap great rewards in the long run.
Well-known author and women’s speaker Patsy Clairmont says it best, “emotions don’t have brains.” We can’t base logic on the heart. Emotions change, they are easily influenced and often times are rooted in fear and untruth. Frankly, my emotions are so wishy-washy that simply a bad hair day can take a turn on what makes me "happy" and again, my emotions influenced simply by what I ate or when the last time was I ate, the time of the month it is and how much sleep I got the night before. How can we ever believe that “as long as I’m happy” is a statement that accurately depicts a good choice or decision? No, we cannot buy into this lie.
Going to the gym will not be fun, I will not enjoy it. What would really make me happy would be sitting on my backside eating chips and guacamole day in and day out. However, I know if I pay a little in pain and discomfort, I’ll experience a longer, healthier life. But given the decision-making model of “as long as I’m happy,” you can bet your bottom dollar, and my ever-growing bottom, that I will pass on the gym.
Somehow as women, and especially as we lead and instruct our young women, we need to hold to the truth, values and morals that were put before us by the One who loves us most. God doesn’t want us to experience disappointment or pain. In fact, scriptures tell us that He has a plan to prosper us, plans for hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). However, that doesn’t mean the journey is nothing but happy times. No, we are also told that in life we will have trouble (John 16:33), but God’s plan for us isn’t for us to coast through life. No! He loves us too much to leave us where we are at. He wants to grow us, build us and strengthen us. Nowhere in scripture does it tell us that all is well if it makes us happy. Happiness is a lie that builds complacency, mediocrity, and fear to change. We’d rather sit in stagnate living, mundane and lifeless, than push ourselves for growth of the heart, soul, body and mind. It may not make you happy, but take heart, Sister. God promises more than happiness…. He gives us joy that never ceases.
So let's get it together. Let's live differently than the temporary feel-good fix the world tries to throw at us. Let's #liverevised and join in a sisterhood that is full of passions and possibilities, but is also founded on God's truth and His promises that mean a deeper, long-lasting joy overflowing with significance and fulfillment. Join me!