Everyone Seeks Happiness

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”

Blaise Pascal

This quote changed my perspective on life.

No one ever does anything because they want to hurt more or feel sadder. Even the masochist or sadist, those who enjoy receiving or inflicting pain, are motivated by their enjoyment of it. There’s a pleasure underneath the displeasure.

I can’t help but wonder why this is. Can you imagine a world where this isn’t the case? What does this mean? Does it point to the inherent goodness of life? Why should we desire to feel good rather than bad, especially if the universe is empty, with no Creator, with no one good behind it?

Christians have said for centuries that this is a desire to know God, and I’m not sure I can argue against that.

Contentment

One of the least popular ideas in America is contentment. 

Think about it. How many blog posts are there about how to find happiness with your current status vs. how to 10X your dreams, make a million dollars, and never settle until you’ve reached the highest life you can imagine? 

Contentment isn’t settling.

Settling kills dreams and callings. Settling lets relationships die. Settling wraps you in the grave clothes of a disappointing life that could have been more if you had wanted it enough. I would never suggest that anyone settles.

Contentment is different. It’s the idea that nothing is standing between you and happiness. It’s knowing you don’t need more of anything. It’s the laser vision that focuses on what’s good here and now—good that other people can only imagine; good that, if you lost it, would break your heart.

Settling pushes off the good that might be had with effort in the future.

Contentment embraces good that we might overlook out of restlessness right now.

Settling says “I’m not going to try.”

Contentment says “Even if I fail, I’m grateful.”

We live in a society that nurtures us to desire more from the time we are born and shows us with every commercial break between our childhood cartoons how much happier those cool kids with the Nerf guns are than we. Because this is our environment, contentment has to be fought for.

Despite having more than any people in history, we typically don’t wake up satisfied and grateful in America. We wake up hungry for more clothes, more money, more convenience, more trips, more experiences, more food.

I’ll admit that there are situations where more is needed; I wouldn’t preach contentment to people in poverty.

But for many of us, contentment is a missing key to happiness. Our happiness problem is not fixed with a bigger TV, a better coffee pot, or another Amazon order. Happiness is found in being content with what have. Someone in this world would trade their life for yours in a heartbeat.