By Meisha Thomas –
My husband and I were on vacation a few months ago, when he came down with a cold so we took the night off as tourists and watched a movie in hope of his speedy recovery. We watched the movie, Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. This show is based on a true story about a man named Chris Gardner. Chris is quite an intelligent man but due to bad life circumstances, ended up working to sell bone density scanners. The selling of these scanners was not going well and Chris was not making enough money to comfortably support his wife and young son.
During the movie Chris says, “… I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part?”
Later in the film Chris’s wife is tired of not being able to pay the bills, tired of working double shifts as a maid at a hotel and tells Chris that she is “just not happy.” His reply to her is, “Well go get happy Linda. Go get happy.”
I have thought a lot about this scene and our ability to GET happy. How do we get or find or pursue happiness? We have to make the decision about what makes us happy.
I think there are two types of happiness: surface and deep. An example of surface happiness might be sitting on the beach, relaxing and eating donuts from the shop on the boardwalk. Relaxing on a beach is happiness, especially the donuts. But it is instant happiness, not a happiness that I had to work hard to achieve or struggle to create and find. Eating frozen yogurt, watching a good movie, taking Sunday naps… all happiness indeed, but not hard earned happiness.
I served a mission in the Philippines. When I think of these 18 months, happiness is a word that quickly comes to mind. This is an experience I think about daily. I loved the food, the culture, the language, the endless pineapple and mostly the people. But my mission was the hardest thing I have ever done. It rained and rained and rained. Most of the time the streets would flood. It never got cold, even with all that rain, it never even got cool. I took a cold shower out of a bucket every morning and struggled daily to speak and understand a new language. I felt homesick, stressed and unqualified. But yet, it was such a happy and joyful time of my life.
I believe that the deep joy I feel when I think about my mission comes from the closeness I felt to the savior, the relationships I created and the pursuit to find happiness for myself and others, everyday. I believe that God’s Plan of Happiness includes challenge and it includes trials and struggle and a bit of hardship. Happiness is in the “by the sweat of our brow” business. Meaning I need to work hard and pursuit happiness if I want my life to be happy.
Here are some of my happiness pursuits:
- Seeking God in my life. Inviting Him in, spending time thinking of Him, being grateful.
- Relationships with people. Taking time to play tennis with my 13 year old brother and having meaningful conversation with my husband.
- Praying with my knees on the ground. I have been in a bad habit of praying while I was sitting in bed, half asleep. Kneeling will help me to focus on conversing with God.
- Spend time outside everyday. I work at a desk and am sitting for 9-10 hours at this desk each day. But this world is amazing! After a long day of work Netflix is tempting, but watching TV makes my mind and body tired. Being outside is good for my body, mind and spirit and makes me feel alive.
I want to know what you think. How are you pursuing happiness? When have you struggled but in the end found happiness?