The Right to Pursue Happiness

Imagine with me, this morning, that it’s July 4th, we are on a blanket watching the fireworks. Imagine the sound of the fireworks as they begin to burst in the air. Boom, boom, boom. Imagine the expansive colorful brilliance in the air. I see the reflection of fireworks in your eyes as you gaze with the excitement and wonder of a child. You’re a picture of everything that’s right about our country, so full of life, liberty, and happiness. It’s one of those moments filled with happiness, joy!

HappinessIn 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned these words, “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.” Consider those words for a moment. We are endowed by God, the Creator with unalienable rights. We have the right to life, to live. Absolutely! The right to liberty! “You are now free to roam around the cabin.” Not only that, you are free to do whatever you want to do! We have the right to the pursuit of happiness.

In Search of Happiness

We all want to be happy. We search for happiness. We pursue happiness. Why does one need to “pursue” happiness? In my experience, it’s that final right, “the pursuit of happiness,” that has been the source of so much unhappiness. Why? It creates the mindset that happiness is something that “out there,” that happiness needs to be pursued, and found. Happiness is not a pursuit. It’s not something out there. Happiness is not something external to us. We will never find happiness outside ourselves because happiness and joy are internal.

I’m reminded of the words found in the Bhagavad Gita, “A wise person will never expect joy from the outside world or by contact with outside objects. The truth is, joy can never come from outside. That’s the truth. Happiness can never come from outside. Even if it seems to be coming from the outside, it’s only a reflection of your own inner happiness.”

Happiness is a Decision

What would it mean to our happiness to understand that happiness is a decision? Could it be that our happiness begins the moment that we, regardless of our circumstances, decide to be happy? We choose happiness. We choose joy. We decide to be happy.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul encourages us to choose joy or happiness in all circumstances. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”.

Put simply, the decision to be happy creates opportunities for happiness. We can decide to be happy regardless of our circumstances. Instead of the pursuit of happiness and the mindset that thinks, “I will be happy when…..” we have a mindset that thinks, “I WIILL BE HAPPY while I live!”

Regardless of what’s going on in your life, you have the power to choose happiness. The decision to be happy is a decision that each of us can make right now. I choose happiness! I choose joy! It’s your choice. What can you do, today, be happy? Great! Go do that!

Stay amazing, my friend! On the Camel’s Back, Theo