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Are you perfectly happy? Or are you still looking for happiness? There can be no doubt that at one time or another in your life you attained that which you believed would make you happy. When you got what you wanted, were you happy?
Do you remember when you were a child, how ardently you looked forward to Christmas? How happy you thought you would be, with your fill of cakes, your hands glutted with toys, and your eyes dancing with the lights on the tree!
Christmas came, and after you had eaten your fill, blown out the last Christmas candle, and played till your toys no longer amused, you climbed into your bed and said, in your own little heart of hearts, that somehow or other it did not quite come up to your expectations. And have you not lived that experience over a thousand times since?
Perhaps it was marriage you thought which would bring you perfect happiness. Even though it did bring a measure of happiness, you admit that you now take your companion’s love for granted. One is never thirsty at the border of the well…
Maybe it was a desire to be well-known that you craved. You did become well-known, only to find that reputation is like a ball; as soon as it starts rolling, men begin to kick it around.
The fact is: you want to be perfectly happy, but you are not. Your life has been a series of disappointments, shocks, and disillusionments. How have you reacted to your disappointments? Either you became cynical or else you became religious. If you became cynical, you blamed things rather than yourself. If you were married, you said: “If I had another husband, or another wife, I would be happy.” Or you said: “If I had another job…,” or “If I visited another nightclub…,” or “If I were in another city, I would be happy.” In every instance, you made happiness extrinsic to yourself. No wonder you are never happy. You are chasing mirages until death overtakes you.
But cynicism did not work, because in seeking pleasures you missed the joys of life. Pleasure is of the body; joy is of the mind and heart. Lobster Newberg gives pleasure to certain people, but not even the most avid lobster fans would ever say that it made them joyful. You can quickly become tired of pleasures, but you can never tire of joys. A pleasure can be increased to a point where it ceases to be a pleasure; it may even begin to be a pain if carried beyond a certain point…But the joy of a good conscience, or the joy of a First Communion, or the discovery of truth, never turns to pain.
Furthermore, have you noticed that as your desire for pleasure increased, the satisfaction from the pleasure decreased? Do you think a philosophy of life is right that is based on the law of diminishing returns?
You think you are having a good time, but time really is the greatest obstacle in the world to happiness, not only because it makes you take pleasures successively, but also because you are never really happy until you are unconscious of the passing of time. The more you look at the clock, the less happy you are. The more you enjoy yourself, the less conscious you are of the passing of time. You say, “Time passed like everything [else].” Maybe, therefore, your happiness has something to do with the eternal…
Why are you disappointed? Because of the tremendous disproportion between your desires and your realizations. Your soul has a certain infinity about it, because it is spiritual. But your body, like the world about you, is material, limited, “cabined, cribbed, confined.” You can imagine a mountain of gold, but you will never see one. In like manner, you look forward to some earthly pleasure, or position, or state in life, and once you attain it you begin to feel the tremendous disproportion between the ideal you imagined and the reality you possess. Disappointment follows. Every earthly ideal is lost by being possessed. The more material your ideal, the greater the disappointment; the more spiritual it is, the less the disillusionment.
Having discovered why you are disappointed, you take the next step of trying to avoid disappointments entirely. You ask yourself: “What do I desire above all things?” You want perfect life, and perfect truth, and perfect love. Nothing short of the Infinite satisfies you, and to ask you to be satisfied with less would be to destroy your nature. You want life, not for two more years, but always; you want to know all truths, not the truths of economics alone, to the exclusion of history. You also want love without end…
With your feet on earth, you dream of Heaven; creature of time, you despise it; flower of a day, you seek to eternalize yourself. Why do you want Life, Truth, Love unless you were made for them? How could you enjoy the fractions unless there were a whole? Where do they come from? Where is the source of light in the city street at noon? Not under autos, buses, nor the feet of trampling throngs, because their light is mingled with darkness. If you are to find the source of light you must go out to something that has no admixture of darkness or shadow; namely, to pure light, which is the sun. In like manner, if you are to find the source of Life, Truth, and Love, you must go out to a Life that is not mingled with its shadow, death; to a Truth not mingled with its shadow, error; and to a Love not mingled with its shadow, hate. You go out to something that is Pure Life, Pure Truth, Pure Love, and that is the definition of God. And the reason you have been disappointed is because you have not yet found Him!
It is God you are looking for. Your unhappiness is not due to your want of a fortune, or high position, or fame, or sufficient vitamins; it is due not to a want of something outside you, but to a want of something inside you. You cannot satisfy a soul with husks! If the sun could speak, it would say that it was happy when shining; if a pencil could speak, it would say that it was happy when writing--for these were the purposes for which they were made. You were made for perfect happiness. That is your purpose. No wonder everything short of God disappoints you.
But have you noticed that when you realize you were made for Perfect Happiness, how much less disappointing the pleasures of earth become? You cease expecting to get silk purses out of sows’ ears. Once you realize that God is your end, you are not disappointed, for you put no more hope in things than they can bear. You cease looking for first-rate joys where there are only tenth-rate pleasures.
You begin to see that friendship, the joys of marriage, the thrill of possession, the sunset and the evening star, masterpieces of art and music, the gold and silver of earth, the industries and the comforts of life, are all gifts of God…He intended them to be bridges to cross over to Him [so that after] enjoying the good things of life you were to say: “If the spark of human love is so bright, then what must be the Flame!”
Unfortunately, many have become so enamored of the gifts the Great Giver of Life has dropped on the roadway of life that they build their cities around the gift, and forget the Giver. And when the gifts, out of loyalty to their Maker, fail to give them perfect happiness, they rebel against God and become cynical and disillusioned.
Change your entire point of view! Life is not a mockery. Disappointments are merely markers on the road of life, saying: “Perfect happiness is not here.” Though your passions may have been satisfied, you were never satisfied, because while your passions can find satisfaction in this world, you cannot. Start with your own insufficiency and begin a search for perfection. Begin with your own emptiness and seek Him who can fill it.
Look at your heart. It tells the story of why you were made. It is not perfect in shape and contour, like a Valentine Heart. There seems to be a small piece missing out of the side of every human heart. That may be to symbolize a piece that was torn out of the Heart of Christ which embraced all humanity on the Cross. But I think the real meaning is that when God made your human heart, He found it so good and so lovable that He kept a small sample of it in Heaven. He sent the rest of it into this world to enjoy His gifts, and to use them as stepping stones back to Him, but to be ever mindful that you can never love anything in this world with your whole heart because you have not a whole heart with which to love. In order to love anyone with your whole heart, in order to be really peaceful, in order to be really wholehearted, you must go back again to God to recover the piece He has been keeping for your from all eternity.
--You, chapter 1
by Fulton Sheen
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Are you perfectly happy, or are you still looking for perfect happiness?
Most people are still actively searching for true and lasting happiness, but are looking in the wrong places. It’s easy to be misled into believing that happiness is found in money, rank, or renown. While these things are not inherently bad, and can in fact be used to do much good, they will, in the final analysis, not bring a happiness that endures.
Once we realize that nothing less than a complete union with God will satisfy our souls, we will not let transitory things distract or disappoint us. This is because then, according to Fulton Sheen, “you put no more hope in things than they can bear. You cease looking for first-rate joys where there are only tenth-rate pleasures.”
In addition to addressing the topic of joy vs. pleasure in Finding True Happiness, Fulton Sheen also helps us gain the right perspective on things such as loneliness and the secret of sanctity. This brings us to our ultimate purpose, which is found in God alone. Only by losing oneself in God, will we find our true selves-- and true happiness along with it.
Back to Finding True Happiness (Paperback)
Author description goes here...
Product Type Media Books
Author Fulton Sheen
Publisher Beacon Publishing
Number of Pages 80
Book Format Paperback
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