We live in a society of resistance. I’m not talking about political nonsense. We are people that are constantly resisting, and unfortunately, too often we resist what is good for us. We resist going to the doctor for checkups, knowing that making sure our body is healthy is a good thing. We resist getting up in the mornings for work or for school, knowing that both work and school are necessary for us to live the way we want. We resist being present with actual people, and instead choose to be addicts to our electronics and social media. We are people who resist happiness.
So, what exactly is happiness? The definition of happiness, like so many other words, has gotten twisted in today’s culture. Pleasure has taken the place of happiness. I say this because I used to believe it and live it, like so many others that I saw. “I’m so happy getting drunk at the bar every weekend of the semester.” “I’m so happy I hooked up with that girl last weekend and haven’t spoken to her since.” “Binge watching Game of Thrones has made me happier than I’ve been in years.” Yeah, I’ve never heard anyone say those things either. Those things are “fun” and “pleasurable” which is why we are drawn to them, but deep down we know none of those things really make us happy.
We as human beings have this deep fundamental desire for happiness. Whether we choose to believe it or not, it’s the truth. Because of this desire to be happy, we look all over the place to find it. Our forefathers of this great country knew it too over 200 years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -U.S. Constitution. Pursuit of Happiness. We are always pursuing to find that happiness.
Before we talk about where we can find happiness, let’s discuss where this desire even comes from. Have you ever stepped back and thought for a second, “Why do I want to be happy?” Yes, it feels good, of course, but even deeper than that: why do we as human beings have this desire to be happy? The answer is because we were created to long for something that can never truly be satisfied on this Earth. We can come to have a better understanding of the longing of eternal happiness in Christ. Happiness isn’t a cause, it’s an effect; an effect that is derived in love. And not just any love but Love Himself. Now don’t say to yourself, “Yep I knew that was coming, this is a Cowboy Catholic blog, of course he was going for the whole Jesus thing.” Just stick with me and hear me out. There is a “hole” in each of our hearts that can’t be filled on this planet. How do I know? Because if there was something on this planet that satisfied us, everyone would be doing it and nobody would do anything else. But of course, there’s nothing like that, which is why we’re constantly searching for new things to fill this hole, but nothing fits.
So, what does fit?
God. Only God can satisfy that craving, that desire. Only God can fill that hole.
This really came to life for me on a mission trip to Jamaica. The American culture tells you, “Take it. Take however much you want. You’ll be so happy if you splurge,” but that’s a lie. We’re grasping for things to fill our heart, and they just don’t satisfy. Look at how many Hollywood celebrities completely fall off the deep end and lose it. Have you ever wondered why that is? They’re the “gods” of American culture. Everyone looks up to them and wants to be them. But why do they go crazy when they have “everything” they could ever want and more to make them happy? Because they are missing something, we all are, something that this world can never be.
We have it all wrong. We shouldn’t be asking what can I do to be happy or where can I go to be happy. We should be asking: who should I go to, to be happy? And that answer is Jesus Christ. Resistance tells us that “there’s nothing for me in the Church.” “I’m not going to follow something that is 2,000 years old, science has disproven all of that stuff.” But if you really ask yourself, like really, right now ask yourself, what is the truth?
Stop resisting like the rest of our society, take a leap of faith and do what you know is good for you. And who knows, maybe you’ll find eternal happiness along the way. In every single moment, there is a choice. Be aware of resistance lurking and choose happiness.
-Stephen Carrier, Cowboy Catholic Alumnus