The Right To Be Happy

Happy Image

If life’s purpose lies in getting what we want, as our culture insists, then freedom becomes a very big deal. Freedom is what allows us to exercise our “inalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness.

With this view of freedom, it’s easy to feel threatened by constraint. Our instinct is to resist it with all our might, for it impedes our ability to live the life we want.

To maximize this kind of freedom requires that we minimize or even eliminate serious relationships. For the more we rely on others or others rely on us, the less free we are to go wherever we wish to go, pursue whatever we wish to pursue and do whatever we wish to do. 

The idea of loving someone unconditionally, without anticipating love or appreciation in return—constrains us. In a society devoted to self-fulfillment, the cost of love often seems too high.

We cling to emotional programs for happiness, such as approval and affection. These are symbols of security that help us survive infancy and childhood. But they are inappropriate for adulthood because when we pursue them wholeheartedly we more often find frustration, anger, discouragement, panic, guilt, shame.

Paula Huston says in her book, A Season of Mystery, that in the Bible, the “free” person is the one no longer plagued by the burdensome quest for money, pleasure, possessions, social status and political power. Interestingly, aren’t these the same things that our culture says will fulfill us and make us happy?

It’s when we adhere to the idea that “I have a right to be happy” that we fool ourselves—at the cost of failed relationships, unprofitable ambitions and unhappy lives.

Valuing ourselves only according to our successes, fame or fortune causes us to miss the essential.

The way to inner contentment, Ms. Huston writes, is to value ourselves as the Divine does—simply for who we are. 

In my next blog, “Great Expectations.

Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon:

Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.

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