Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happiness for Life?

What I wrote Tuesday:

I was looking forward to my two days off SO much, but the weird thing about days off is sometimes they are not any better than days at work. I can sleep late, so that's great. But is it really so much fun to make phone calls, and drive down to the courthouse and spend over $400 in a day, and not have anyone to talk to, and think about things too much?

I grudgingly admit that work is necessary. Often it is fulfilling. Sometimes it is fun.

It's a fallacy to think if I had enough money not to work for the rest of my life, then I'd be happy. It's easy to think that when I'm at work, tired at my desk from too many early mornings.

I wonder what the answer is to stress and anxiety. Those two monsters will never go away. But how can you manage them? But what can you do so life isn't just a reaction to one stress after another?


I wrote that and literally started to write, "Why am I unhappy?" and started thinking about the reasons.

Then the door bell rang. A man who looked about 19 or 20 was at the door. He wore a jacket, he was overweight and he had a friendly smile. He said he was a Christian student and was selling several books to make money for school.

The first was a cookbook full of healthy recipes. I looked at it to be polite but said I wasn't interested. So he showed me another book, a book of Christian inspirational stories with a poem on the back. I said I couldn't buy it because I've already spent too much money this month. (So true.)

Then he brought out a small book titled Happiness for Life. It had a hummingbird sucking nectar out of a flower on the cover. He said there was no charge for this one.

The title was so blaringly obvious I almost had to laugh. And yet I took the book the way a hungry fish takes the bait at the end of a fishing line. I gave him $2 out of my wallet for it (even though it was supposedly free), thanked him and sent him on his way with a bottle of water.

Is there really such a thing as happiness for life? Was this person God's messenger, sent with what I needed to hear? Or just a student selling books to make cash and selling people on a concept they want to believe exists?

To the author's credit the book is actually much less simplistic than I expected given the title. The chapters are about repentance, commitment, obedience and prayer. Nothing about how God wants you to have a million dollars or if you pray you will get whatever you want. The book is 61 pages (not two or five, like most religious tracts are), and thankfully doesn't include diagrams.

The final chapter is titled "Happiness for Life."

Was Jesus happy? Says the book, "It is often said that Jesus wept, but that He was never known to smile. Our Savior was indeed a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief, for He opened His heart to all the woes of men."

As for happiness, "The life of those who imitate Him will be full of earnest purpose; they will have a deep sense of personal responsibility. Levity will be repressed; there will be no boisterous merriment, no rude jesting; but the religion of Jesus gives peace like a river."

Ack, personal responsibility.

"Happiness that is sought from selfish motives, outside of the path of duty, is ill-balanced, fitful, and transitory; it passes away, and the soul is filled with loneliness and sorrow; but there is joy and satisfaction in the service of God; the Christian is not left to walk in uncertain paths; he is not left to vain regrets and disappointments. If we do not have the pleasures of this life we may still be joyful in looking to the life beyond."

I believe it but Happiness for Life is a seriously deceptive title.

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