The key to happiness amidst the storm – an interesting perspective from religion

The key to happiness amidst the storm – an interesting perspective from religion

I'm afraid to say I'm not an overly religious person; afraid because in some ways I'd like to be but my scientific mind struggles with some of the key concepts!

I am, on the other hand, relatively spiritual and one of my top strengths is a love of learning so I have always been and continue to be interested in religion and can definitely see it's benefits for the many, many believers out there. I'm also well aware that there's some good research pointing to the happiness gains enjoyed by those who do have religious or spiritual beliefs. 

So, with this in mind, and in the interests of offering varying perspectives on happiness and living a good life, I thought I'd share with you today this interesting article from the Huffington Post written by David Wilson. It begins like this…

During an early morning conversation, long before the rooster crowed, I heard these troubling words. "I haven't been happy with my life in over 10 years." Here we go again, faced with another perplexing statement, from someone near and dear to my heart, that begs the question, just how do we as individuals define true happiness?

Is it a universal feeling that transcends time and space that we can grasp and hold in our hands? Perhaps it is possibly a spiritual aura we aspire to achieve someday. Or has it become an all elusive dream; now that our economy has tanked, our jobs are in peril or worse yet lost, our retirement savings have taken a major hit and our homes have become more of a liability than an asset?

It's hard to find happiness in the midst of these storms. I'm there with you, as I ponder the perilous state of my finances, the devastation of my personal relationships and the value of my own self worth; all of which have fared, nary too well in our own current tempest.

Not one to delve into this subject matter alone, I sent out an email to a few close friends, asking them to share with me their own personal definition of happiness.

From my dear, sweet Lee in Oklahoma, I learned: "happiness is contentment gained from the knowledge that I am endeavoring to please God." And from my senior, spiritual mentor, Paul: "happiness is contentment and peace." From Charlie who has been my pastor, teacher and friend for over 30 years and has been recently deluged with numerous health issues: "As I think of happiness, I am realizing more and more that it is not something to be sought but developed. The English word happiness is derived from "Happinstance" which is dependent on circumstances. Christian joy is not dependent on what happens. As Paul said "Whatever circumstance I find myself, I have learned to be content. The certainty of His Sovereignty is the source of my sanity. When He is Lord I am secure "

Dani asked me to look up Aristotle's definition of happiness because it conveys much of what she believes. In His writings, Aristotle states the following: "The god" or best good is that which is desired for its own sake and for the sake which we desire all other ends or goods. For human beings, eudaemonia is activity of the soul in accordance with arete (excellence, virtue, or what something is good for"). Eudaemonia is characterized by living well and doing well in the affairs of the world. Moral virtue is not the end of life for it can go with inactivity, misery, and unhappiness. Happiness, the end of life, that to which all things aim, is activity in accordance with reason (the arete or peculiar excellence of a person). Happiness is an activity involving both moral and intellectual arete. Some external goods are necessary in order to exercise that activity. But happiness cannot be identified with pleasure, wealth, or honor–unlike what most people think. The good of human beings cannot be answered with the exactitude of a mathematical problem since mathematics starts with general principles and argues to conclusions."

Webster's defines happiness as A. Prosperity; B. A state of well being and contentment; C. A pleasurable or satisfying experience. Fortunately, none of these aforementioned definitions mentions anything about stuff and it's propensity to make us happy. Whew, Thank You Lord!

Not to be outdone, I must interject my definition of happiness as it pertains to me. I believe genuine happiness is created, not by the fullness and fulfillment of what we have in our lives, but through the transcending joy of those with whom we share our lives with…

…you can keep reading the full and original article HERE but I'd also love you to post your thoughts and comments and questions about the relationships between happiness and religion HERE on The Happiness Institute's Facebook Page : )