You’ve heard your friends say it – over and over. You may have even said it, but I bet you didn’t really mean it.
“My son has moved back into our basement, but as long as he’s happy…”
“My sister decided to quit her job and start a band, but as long as she’s happy…”
Sometime in the second half of the 20th century, happiness became a life goal, and we won’t let it go. Let me say it, I’m ok with losing the phrase, “I just want you to be happy.”
It’s not that I don’t want you to be happy, I just want happiness to be a byproduct of better things. What I really want is for you to make a difference in your world. I want you to be kind to your fellow citizens. I want you to be productive with your hands and your mind. I want you to learn and teach. I want you to work hard and accomplish missions. I want you to reproduce yourself and your abilities. I want you to be curious and ask questions. I want you to explore and discover.
Those things won’t always be fun. They may even be painful, but they will produce moments of joy, and joy outweighs happiness by far.
I want you to love and find love. I want you to live in contentment. I want you to be dependable and establish a good reputation. I want you to slow down and see what others miss. I want you to take time to hear what others are saying to you. I want you to avoid anger and resentment. I want you to forgive and not hold onto bitter feelings. I want you to know the truth and not let your thoughts deceive you. I want you to avoid gossip and ignore stupidity.
I want you to hear God’s voice in the thunder and the rain. I want you to see his face in the sun and moon. I want you to feel his arms on the starless nights. I want you to see his artistry in landscapes and in yourself. I want you to experience for yourself his love and follow his direction.
Do I want you to be happy? Sure, but I don’t want you to be happy at the cost of what really matters.