I wrote The Paradox of Happiness, ironically, because I felt unhappy about our current understandings of happiness.
What are the common proposals? Buy this product. Get this gorgeous. Follow the seven steps to success.
Sadly, there seems to be not much of a Christian alternative. Christians have bought into our consumer societies’ commercial definition of happiness without thinking it through. We substitute the self-help steps to happiness with Christian terminology, but the approach is still the same self-centered, self-serving approach.
So I went on an experiment. Could there be an alternative Christian understanding of happiness? Could this understanding be not isolated from, but actually spring out of our core beliefs about reality–Jesus is Lord, his cross offers life, to follow Jesus is the best of paths? And could this alternative be not just well-meaning but be really happy?
It was a fascinating experiment. I went back to Jesus and to what I felt was his key insight on life–that we gain life when we lose life, and that we do so when we deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him.
The result of that reflection is a book coming out today, The Paradox of Happiness. I hope it helps people be more more serene and joyous because they are actually less self-oriented and self-centered. I would love if folks finish reading the book feeling less worried about their own happiness, and find themselves, paradoxically, happier than before.
We don’t find happiness when we try to fulfill our desires—we find it when we stop looking for it and start focusing on serving others. Happiness according to Jesus is generous and unexpected: by letting go, we find; by giving, we receive.
Happy are those who work for the happiness of others.