The Declaration of Independence contains this famous phrase:
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.
Happiness is what all people are ultimately seeking. Including you. Including me. You want to be happy. So do I.
If you really think about it, everything we do is, in one way or another, a pursuit of happiness.
The pursuit of happiness is what motivates people to get married – or not to get married, to have children or not to have children, to choose certain careers or paths in life and not others. It is the reason people abuse substances – and even, as strange as it may sound at first, to commit suicide.
Philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal said:
All people seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they always tend towards this end. The cause of some going to war and of others avoiding it is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object (happiness). This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
We are often taught to be careful of the difference between joy and happiness. ‘Happiness,’ it is said, ‘is an emotion which depends on what happens to you (a false etymology).’ Joy, by contrast is supposed to be enduring, stemming from deep within our soul, and which is not affected by circumstances surrounding us. I don’t think God had any such hairsplitting in mind. Scripture uses the terms interchangeably along with words such as “delight” “Gladness” “blessing” – There is no scale of relative spiritual values applied to any of these. Happiness is not relegated to fleshly minded sinners nor joy to heaven-bound saints.
If you ask the average person what they want more than anything else, they will reply: “I want to be HAPPY!” “It’s not the only thing I want — but it is at the core of the other things I want.”
My dear brothers, if anyone in the world ought to be happy, we are those people. How boundless our privileges, how brilliant our hopes.