Thursday, April 14, 2016
Mad Men, Purple Clover
One of those seemingly eternal truths that I think I’ve finally discovered after living and struggling to the official age of social security retirement benefits is that there is a profound difference between happiness and joy in life. On the surface, they seem to be compatible synonyms. In fact, the Webster Thesaurus lists joyous as the first synonym of happy. Perhaps I'm just parsing words. So, what’s the big deal? Well, for one thing, I think you could also consider these two words as complete antonyms. Our culture considers the path to happiness strewn with all imaginable sorts of worldly stuff which the Mad Men of Madison Avenue subliminally and not so subliminally barrage us with over the course of almost every waking hour on the planet. Best Buy’s latest motto says it all; “I want it all and I want it now”! We’re definitely an “instant gratification” society.
We wish each other a "Happy Birthday" and a "Happy New Year". We close our writings with "Have a nice day", appended by a happy face icon. We expect to be happy and when life doesn't follow the script of a typical TV sitcom, we get depressed because it's not supposed to be like that--or is it? Our American culture has more wealth and stuff than any society that ever walked the planet and we’re not very happy. Maybe we need more joy in our lives. We were not created for perpetual happiness. Happiness is temporary, lasting 30 seconds to an hour or two, because it is based on external circumstances, like buying stuff. When one of the richest men on the planet at the turn of the century was asked “How much is enough?”, he answered, “Just a little bit more." The richest man in the annals of human history, King Solomon, opened his book of Ecclesiastes with the observation that everything is "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
We oftentimes reach a crossroads in life where our material demands and our spiritual growth are intersecting! We should be mindful of where we find ourselves spending our time. That reveals where our heart resides. And that reveals what gods we worship in life, bringing us either temporary happiness or eternal joy.