What Is Happiness?
WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
My name is Bill Whitwer. Several years ago I was on a flight to Atlanta, and there was a group of college students who had gotten on board. There was an empty seat next to me, so a young college student sat next to me, and we started talking. After a while, she asked me what I did. So I said to her that what I did was help people find happiness.
I told her at the beginning of our nation, the Declaration of Independence was signed. In 1776 this document declared that every citizen of the United States would be entitled to three inalienable rights: Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That tells us that our forefathers realized that happiness is something every person wants. The only problem is that our forefathers didn’t define what happiness is or how to obtain it. People are looking all over for happiness. Because I was interested in how others define happiness, I was interested in her definition of happiness. So I asked her what happiness meant to her. Her reply was, “I think happiness is my puppy dog.” I said, “Can I share with you the best definition of happiness I have ever found?” She said, “Yes.”
I said, “There are nine things that you must have if you’re going to be happy.” I began to ask young college student a few questions to help her understand my definition of happiness. I asked her, “Could you be happy if you were not loved genuinely?” She said that she couldn’t be happy without being genuinely loved. (I’ve never heard anyone say that he or she didn’t want to be genuinely loved.) Recently I was talking to a counselor acquaintance who always asks his clients, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said that 90% of the people that he counsels are looking for happiness. Next I asked the girl if she could have inner joy that was not dependent on the weekend. (Parties, ballgames, sororities, etc.) I can’t remember a student telling me that he or she couldn’t wait for the weekend so they could have two days to study!
Next I asked her, “Could you be happy without an inner peace in your life?” Then I told the girl about a wealthy Texas family. One of the brothers in this family said there are two things he wanted in life: a good woman and inner peace. Neither of these things can you buy. Sometime ago John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world, said, “You can’t buy peace.” If he couldn’t buy peace, I don’t think you or I can buy peace. I shared with her that I had a heart attack several years ago. On the way to the hospital, my paramedics said, “You’ve died twice in the ambulance already.” When the paramedic told me that, I had a peace that passes all understanding. I was quiet and peaceful.
I then asked her, “Would you like to be married to a person who does not have patience and self-control?” She said, “No.” Then I asked her, “What is the most dangerous call policeman make?” It’s domestic violence. What is domestic violence? It’s a lack of self-control.
KINDNESS: Then I asked her, “Could you be happy without someone being kind to you?” My youngest daughter had a date with a fellow, and I called her that night when she got home to ask her how things went. She said, “Daddy, he was so kind.” She is now married to that man!
GOODNESS: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I’ve never known a selfish person who is happy. Jesus was a servant and He wants us to be servants – to have a servant’s heart.
FAITHFULNESS: Being faithful is such an important component to happiness. We want someone who is true to his promises.
GENTLENESS: “Could you be happy without being treated gently?” I asked the young lady. “None of the things that we have just discussed are things that we can buy. For instance, John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world said “you can’t buy happiness.” People who believe that money will make them happy, will be disappointed. Then I said to her, “I was in London a few years ago when I met Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a medical doctor on Physicians Road in London. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “If you search for happiness, you will never find it. But if you search for the Lord, you will.”
Now I said to the young woman sitting next to me, “I want to tell you where I got this definition of happiness. It comes from the Bible, and the New Testament. Galatians 5:22–23 tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,…” It begins with the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. Spirit is capitalize which means it refers to God.
I then asked the girl, “What does fruit mean in this passage?” She didn’t know the answer, so I said, “fruit is a byproduct, and that means you have to have something first before you can have fruit.” (Example: Apple tree produces apples. You must have an apple tree before you can have an apple.) You can go to every drugstore in the world and never find an apple to eat. This is because you are looking in the wrong place. Obviously you must go to the source, ultimately an apple tree, if you are looking for an apple.
Another way to put it- the world is full of people who have been searching for happiness all of their lives. They look for it in money, in relationships, in the cars they buy, and the clothes they wear. But to find true happiness you must go to the very source. If you go to the source, in other words, if you go looking for the Lord, you will find happiness. You must have God in your life to find happiness.
So how can you have God in your life? The first step is to admit that you need Him. Only God can forgive your sins. Sins are things that you do that God says not to do and not doing the things He said to do. (Sins of omission and commission.) But you must be willing to give your life to Jesus Christ. (If any man will follow me let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me.) Luke 9:2
Many of the people I have spoken with have thanked me for sharing what happiness is and how to have it. People are not embarrassed talking about happiness. I think if you give it a try it very well may change your life forever. If you ever need a listening ear, or anything else- please call me and I will do whatever I can to help you find the happiness you so deserve.
Rev. Bill Whitwer