I Believe Happiness Depends on Helpful Purpose

Wayne - Bloomington, Indiana
Entered on December 26, 2008
Age Group: 65+
Themes: purpose

I believe meaningful unselfish purpose is the secret of happiness. If your life is dedicated to a purpose which really helps people, which produces real benefit, you will be happy. Not only will you be happy but your happiness will be independent of your living standard. I mean you may be poor; you may be suffering; you may be living under threat, but if your life is producing real benefit for people you love you will be happy.

Take, for example, the grandmother of President-Elect Barack Oboma. At great personal sacrifice she poured her life into young Barack and as she saw him respond to her efforts, it filled her life with joy. Furthermore, though she was near death at the time Barack was elected, her suffering could not quench her joy when he was elected.

Another example is Martin Luther King. Doctor King was reviled; he was arrested and put in jail and he lived under the threat of assassination, but I believe he was a happy man. He saw himself as a Moses, leading his beloved suffering people to the Promised Land. He said God had given him a vision of that Promised Land and though he knew he probably would be killed short of the Promised Land his joy was his knowledge that his people would reach the Promised Land. He said “It doesn’t matter to me now. God has permitted me to go to the mountain top…[to] see the Promised land” He said “I may not get there with you.” He knew he would probably be killed but he said “It doesn’t matter to me now. I just want to do God’s will.” Martin Luther King was a happy man.

Finally consider the Apostle Paul who was also pursuing the high purpose of God’s will. Paul abandoned a career of high prestige to become a suffering, persecuted missionary and yet amid his suffering Paul was a happy man. Near the end of his life, while in jail, awaiting trial before the tyrant, Nero, who would sentence him to death, he wrote a letter of rejoicing to the converts he had won in the city of Philippi. This letter to the Philippians is often called Paul’s epistle of joy because it expresses his joy at the rapid spread of the Gospel. Overflowing with joy, Paul exclaims “Rejoice! and again I say, Rejoice!”

Happiness is not wealth or freedom from suffering. Happiness is being dedicated to a purpose which really helps people.