Where Does Happiness Come From?

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I apologize. But I’m a happy man.
Why apologize?
Because I feel like the guy who just enjoyed a good, hot shower only to throw back the shower curtain and realize the hot water has run out and there is a line of shivering people waiting.
Sometimes happiness seems scarce and maybe I’m using up someone else’s share.
I know too well there is suffering in the world and plenty. My suffering may or may not compare with yours but I too have waded through death, illness, failure, grief, and disappointment.
Not today, however. My marriage of 32 years is strong, fun, and healthy. Mostly due to my wife, Dee Dee. My adult children love God and are carving good paths for themselves in life. My grandkids are amazing. With quarterback Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos may have a good team this year. I have my diabetes and other health issues under control through eating better and exercise. I lost 25-30 pounds and have kept it off for over a year.
I tell people I feel like this is the year I woke up. I just finished an early draft of my novel; I am mountain biking again. A few days ago, I received my elk hunting tag in the mail. Our church plant, The Neighborhood Church, is growing.
Where does happiness come from?
My current happiness, however, comes from none of these circumstances. They are only the circumstances I am happy in.
Happiness comes from being blessed.
I don’t mean this in the way Southern woman exclaim, “Bless his soul!”
Nor the way religious people revel in “Just being so blessed.”
No, this blessing is no back-handed compliment nor wacky Joel Osteen belief that God is poised to write you a blank check, if only you smile and ask the right way.
Ancient Hebrew wisdom
Rather I’m using “blessed” in the way the ancient Hebrews used it to mean being in the right place at the right time. These long ago philosophers, theologians, and poets articulated the idea of life as a path or journey. They called daily living “walking in the way.” And for them happiness came from taking the right path, or more accurately from taking God’s path for you.  Blessing then is being in God’s place in God’s time.
Blessing is God’s GPS
Think of it this way. You are driving to have dinner with some new friends in a part of town you’ve never been to before. Your friends have instructed you the best way to get to their home. But you’re late; it’s dark; you think you know a short-cut. You risk it and soon you are lost in a dangerous part of town. Pot holes mar the street, your cell phone reception drops, and evil creatures lurk in the dark. Your gut tightens and sweat pours down your shirt. You are not happy. Instead you’re scared and in danger because you’re going the wrong way.
Likewise being blessed (happy) may mean driving through that same dangerous part of town but you are following the map given you. God’s GPS. You’re nervous, edgy, but each time a landmark or sign matches the map you breathe easier.
Your circumstances are the same but your knowledge of the situation is different.
This is what Jesus means when he says really crazy sounding things like, “Blessed is the person who is poor in spirit, meek, pure of heart, a peace maker, or who mourns, is hungry, or persecuted.” Jesus knows these are not happy circumstances. But they might be where God has led us (if we have followed God’s way) and we can know God is with us there whether the place is dark or light.
Home where I belong
My life circumstances are not perfect. There is pain and darkness even today. And the path I’ve taken to get to this place in my life has sometimes been rugged–and I’ve taken a wrong turn or more. But if I look closely I can see a mile marker now and then that lets me know I am being guided along the way. So, I take back my apology. I’m happy because my happiness stems from knowing–for at least once in my life–I am momentarily where God wants me to be, blessed. And there is plenty more blessing where that comes from.
Eugene C. Scott’s novel is called The Projector. It’s about two boys who discover a projector that shows them the future. Join him in the year The Year of Living Spiritually. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

0 thoughts on “Where Does Happiness Come From?”

    1. Right now my writer’s group has demanded that I let it sit for about 4 weeks so that it marinates and I get a fresh look at it. They are cruel people. It’s been five days and it’s driving me crazy. Then I will begin the next draft and that is the one I’ll ask people to read and comment on. I’ll let you know.

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