Tag Archive: happiness


Happy Endings

In his essay “On Fairy Stories”, JRR Tolkien suggests that every story that satisfies us does so because it echoes the gospel – that just when all seems lost, the good hero prevails in the end.

Perhaps the reason we like it is that at some deep level we know it’s true, that our desire for goodness, justice and meaning are hard wired into us because they’re real things destined for satisfaction.

We all crave the triumph of the good, of beauty, meaning and justice like water in the desert. We want the right to prevail even when we would deny its reality.

We really were made for happy endings. The gospel tells us that death has been broken; that through the true King, life and love have prevailed; and that someday, it will be truly said that we lived happily ever after.

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…By not trying to be.

 

When someone is trying to be popular, they’ll try very hard to understand the latest trends, to ingratiate themselves to others, and will become unpopular bores in the end. It’s only when they start to look outside themselves that they become interesting to others.

 

A similar principle happens in the pursuit of happiness. When we make this our goal, we’re focused on what we want; we’re turned inwards, and the harder we try, the more it eludes us. “Looking for love in all the wrong places”, we may drug ourselves with possessions, adrenaline sports, sex, alcohol, or partying, but we’re really just running from our own emptiness.

 

So what’s the secret of being happy?

 

Look outside yourself. Love God first, and then love to others as valuable because they are made in His image. Take humility and service as first principles; don’t do them because they will make you feel good about yourself (they won’t always do that), but because reaching out to others in love is right. Make your life about this, rather than your own satisfaction, and you’ll find everything else thrown in.

 

And you’ll notice (not when you’re looking for it, but when you look back) that the texture of your life starts to take on joy; a deep, soul satisfying thing of which happiness is merely the froth of – for you will have found what you were made for.