Happy, Thank You!

19 Jun

I have a friend who is waiting to be happy. He waits a lot. Happiness for him is that moment when someone pays him a compliment, or does something nice for him, or boosts his ego in some way. His happiness depends on the other person and how that “other” treats him. So, more often that not, he waits for happiness to show up.

So, the other day when I was reading Paul Tillich, the 20th century’s most profound theologian, and came across his definition of happiness, I had to underline it. My classmates from years ago would be proud of me for reading Tillich because I never understood a word of it the first time around. “Profound” is my way of saying he’s about three levels above my intellectual limit. But I found a book of his sermons, and, thankfully, he preached to real people while he wrote to scholarly intellectuals. In one of those sermons, he declared: “Happiness is a state of mind which lasts for a longer or shorter time and is dependent on many conditions, external and internal”. Dependent on many conditions: that’s my friend who relies on external forces and events to generate his happiness. And when happiness strikes him, he’s upbeat, grateful and on top of the world. When it strikes…

My friend’s mantra, during his happy moments, is: “I’m happy; therefore, I am grateful.” But I think he has it just backwards. For him, external events produce happiness which, in turn, produces a sense of gratefulness. His dilemma, like so many other people I know, is that he can’t control the events. So, why not turn the process around?

Try this: “I’m grateful; therefore, I am happy.” Gratefulness is my choice. Gratefulness is an attitude or perspective on the world that I control. It doesn’t depend on anybody else or anything else. And out of that compelling sense of gratitude, happiness is born. So I think I’m going to try as hard as I can to be grateful in this world of wonder, mystery, and beauty. And the next time you see me and ask, “How are you today?”, don’t be surprised to hear: “Happy, thank you!”

2 Responses to “Happy, Thank You!”

  1. lalbright125 June 20, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    OK Eric – here’s your cue for last weeks comment. Lynne

  2. 14250sc July 6, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    I love that response! Is your friend who waits for happiness to come to him better off than those who run off in every direction with whatever people/drug/activity seeking happiness? If only they/we would stop and count our blessings and thank God for them. There is happiness.

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