This devotional was written by Mike DeVries. I found it on crosswalk.com
Anthony De Mello was a Jesuit priest in India. Recently, a friend of mine turned me on to his writings in The Way to Love, where I found this amazing thought:
Has it ever struck you that you have been programmed to be unhappy and so no matter what you do to become happy, you are bound to fail?
If you wish to be happy the first thing you need is not effort or even goodwill or good desires, but a clear understanding of how exactly you have been programmed. This is how it happened: First, your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons or things.
Once you have swallowed your belief, you naturally developed an attachment to this person or thing you were convinced you could not be happy without. Then came the efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it. This finally led you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it and miserable when you lost it.
This is an exhausting task that leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever-changing world that you simply are not able to control. So instead of a life of serenity and fulfillment, you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense and tension.
Life is not giving you what you have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without.
Now as I have thought about this passage, it has opened up all kinds of implications for life. Perhaps the reason that we often do not see our lives as being filled with “happiness” it that we have bought into a culture that tells us what we need to be “happy” or, as De Mello puts it, we’ve been programmed.
The culture we live in is great at programming us to yearn for “things” that cannot truly satisfy. Just look at the messages we hear, see or read everyday: “Buy this”; “get that” and your desires will be met. You’ll finally be happy. But, the reality is, when we do “buy” or “get,” we just yearn for something else. So this has opened up all kinds of questions for me.
What might it look like for me to live with enough?
What might it look like for me to live simply, humbly, content, happy, fulfilled?
What might it look like to live at peace, true abiding peace?
Jesus came, not to affirm the programming, but to shatter it – to say that there was a better way to live, a better way to embrace life to the fullest. He came to remind us that life, true life, is not found in the abundance of things, but is found in living the kingdom kind of life. Happiness is freedom.
Like He said one day on a Galilean mountainside, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
One thought on “Happiness”
Those questions WILL lead to the peace Jesus promises us: “Peace not as the world offers.” Good work, good thoughts, a blessing to me. Keep it up!!!