reasonably happy

When asked the goal of their therapy, many clients reply, “I just want to be happy.” It’s certainly a lofty goal, and I understand where it comes from. I really do. I often have to explore further to figure out what they mean when they say “happy.” Most folks are not sure. It is some nebulous, unidentifiable good feeling, something they’ll “just know” when they have it.

 So many of us truly believe that happiness is just one product away, or one “right” person away. We live our lives believing that all our problems will be solved “if only I meet the right man to love me well” or “if only I got that car” or “if I were skinny.” Culture tells us that if we wear the right things and drink the right products we’ll be satisfied and happy. We hope for the fairy tale or the quick fix.

It is then when I very lovingly tell my clients something they do not want to hear: “you will never always feel happy.” It is impossible. Happiness is a feeling, just like sadness or anger or even the “in love” feeling I talked about earlier. The best we can hope for is contentment and hope. The best we can do is satisfy ourselves with the Truth. We are not here for only ourselves, and our lives have a purpose…if we are only willing to identify and act on it.

God, grant me the Serenity

To accept the things I cannot change…

Courage to change the things I can,

And Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right

if I surrender to His will.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life, 

And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.


Reinhold Neibuhr

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