THE SOURCE OF HAPPINESS by Frank Deaver
Posted By rotary
Here is a scene no doubt repeated in countless households each December. A small child tears into a pile of Christmas presents, scattering wrapping paper everywhere, pushing aside one gift after another to look for more. Finally opening the last package, the child looks around in puzzled expectation and asks, “Is that all there is?”
And it’s not confined to children. The bride insisted on a “story-book” wedding, far more than she and her family could afford. Hundreds of guests, exotic food and drink, an expensive band. Her parents went into debt to give their daughter the “Cinderella Wedding” she wanted, and guests showered her with gifts. When the festivities ended and the partying guests were gone, she sat surrounded by all the “things” she had anticipated with such expectation, and said to her mother, “But why am I not happy?”
What that child and that bride had not learned is that happiness is not found in things. Happiness cannot be purchased, or given by one person to another.
The commercial world is in the business of trying to sell happiness. Merchants want to convince us that we will be happy when we buy their beer, their clothes, their electronics, their car. Even if we buy, and even if we are satisfied with the purchase, we soon discover that we have not bought happiness.
We are conditioned to expect happiness… “when I get out of high school, when I get a college degree, when I get the job I want, when I get married,
when I have children, when I retire.” We seem to be caught up in the constant pursuit of happiness, perhaps not ever feeling that we have “arrived.”
Happiness is not so much in getting as in giving. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
The Christmas season can be a reminder of the reward of giving. Our “Service Above Self” motto in Rotary is another reminder of the opportunity to contribute to community, regional, and world needs. Happiness is not something for us to seek; it can only be the by-product of the things we do.