Thursday, July 17, 2008

More on Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy. I think it's our natural state: We all come from a heavenly home where happiness is the rule. We long for happiness because it is our home. We all want to feel better than we do, but many of us are disappointed in our pursuit of true happiness.

Too often we mortals mistake the sorbitol of happiness for the real thing. Sorbitol is a sugar substitute. It's actually a sugar alcohol. It tastes like sugar, but it's not the real thing. It does occur naturally in some fruits, but it can be harmful in large doses. It's hidden in a lot of foods we buy at the store. If we don't read the label, we don't fully realize what we are putting in our bodies.

Think about the ways many of us seek to feel better, but wind up feeling worse.

Take illegal drugs, for example. The hook is that, if we take the drug, we'll feel better, fast. The result is, 24 hours later, that we feel much, much worse. The trick on us is that we think we can get high without taking ourselves higher. Drugs offer a quick and easy solution that leads to addiction, poverty, alienation, jail, crime, and death.

Of course, under a doctor's care, prescription drugs can help, sometimes a lot, but even then, they usually are a temporary solution. They don't address the real problem, usually just the symptom. An example from my own life: Sometimes I get gout (I know, it's a ward joke.) I take an anti-inflammatory for it, but I put off taking it (sometimes too long) because of the side effects—this spring, a doctor found an ulcer in my colon that had to be "stapled." He told me I had better get off that drug.

I still had to take it as a survival tactic several times, but now I am completely off of it. The long term solution is taking better care of myself. Eating better foods. Making fewer trips to the drive-up window. Taking B vitamins. Being vigilant. Taking a higher road that takes a bit more discipline and conscious planning.

Another happiness substitute is an illicit relationship. You know, a boyfriend or girlfriend, when you already have a permanent one. Our relationships don't work out, so we work our way out of them. Maybe we should call this the aspartame of happiness.

I asked someone who had gotten divorced if the new marriage was a big change or just a new set of problems. He admitted the latter was true. We speed away from a car wreck only to run head on into a semi. We look to others to help us feel happy by venturing into a new relationship, but too often, the reality of what you've done to yourself, your former spouse, your children, sets in quickly, and the super nova becomes a black hole.

The list could go on, couldn't it? But this post has gone on long enough. One last word. The best, most lasting happiness is most often found in the broken heart that has healed, not in breaking others' hearts. The broken heart gives us the ability to see in ways we could not otherwise see, and with those eyes, we can see real happiness.

So where do you see artificial happiness?

3 comments:

Jim and Jeanmarie said...

A synonym for artificial happiness is...instant gratification and self indulgence. You can find it easily, quickly and in so many places... The "I want it now attitude. Artificial happiness is found in thinking of what is best for "ME" and not what is best for all. True happiness comes from thinking of others first, selflessness and service! It might not come as easily and quickly but its effects are forever lasting!

Tyler Smith said...

I decided to read your entire blog, from the very beginning. Maybe this sounds patronizing, but I hope not. I sincerely want to learn from your writing, wisdom, and experiences. I felt the Spirit as I was reading this post. I now have lots to think about and change.

Michael James Fitzgerald said...

Wow, Tyler. Thanks for reading. You are kind!