This is one of the most important questions there are. Happiness is what every human being seeks. We want to be happy, no matter how young or old, or the color of your skin, level of education, race, or sex, the fact it is that happiness is at the center of the human heart. In the words of philosopher Peter Kreeft:
“We don’t want to be happy because we think it will lead us to something else, we seek other things because we think that they will make us happy”.
Happiness is not a means to an end. Happiness is an end in itself, is what we all ultimately seek, in everything we do: we want to be happy.
What is happiness?
If happiness is an end in itself, then what is happiness? Happiness is not a feeling. Feelings come and go, they can’t be controlled. Otherwise, why not feel happy all the time? True happiness on the other hand, is independent of how you feel. The “feeling of happiness” is a side effect, not its cause. Happiness is rather something else, something deeper. Happiness is the fulfillment of your inner most longing, which is to love and to be loved.
The saints are great examples, because they are all lovers. They completely empty themselves for the sake of the other. Look at Mother Theresa, for most of her life she didn’t feel that “feeling of happiness” quite the opposite, she experienced no consolation or “feeling of happiness”, but she was truly happy. If you see her working with the poor, you can see the joy in her eyes. She was happy, because she was fulfilling her deepest longing: she was a lover of souls.
We are happy, when we fulfill that longing, that tug in our hearts, that calls us towards real and concrete LOVE. In the Christian anthropology, man was created in the image of God, and through revelation we know that God is Love. Thereby, love is in the fabric of who we are.
How can we be happy?
In one of the most moving and intimate passages in the bible, Jesus, tells us:
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
This takes everything that we think about happiness and turns it upside down! We tend to associate happiness with doing whatever we want, however we want it, whenever we want it, but Christ tells us that true happiness can be found by following God’s commandments. That’s the whole point of the moral law, the commandments, far from being a restrictive set of rules, that makes us less free, they truly set us free to love each other, by seeking the good. Furthermore, they allow us to remain in His Love and because His Love is Perfect, it is the only thing in the world that is big enough to fill your heart and make you truly happy.
Anything else will simply fall short!