In Search Of Happiness


There’s an old Russian tale about a Czar who was getting up in age. He became depressed, was so ill that the call went out that he was going to die. Physicians were summoned from around the country to come up with a cure for the Czar’s deadly illness. Everything the physicians tried failed. Finally, in the last attempt, all the wise men were called in to seek their advice as to what could be done for the Czar.

The wise men met and determined that it indeed was the depression of the Czar that was killing him, so they decided that the only cure was to get him out of the depression. This, they felt, required that the Czar acquire the shirt of a happy man.

An edict went out for all the soldiers of the country to travel through every town and village, seeking the shirt of a happy man. The search went on for months with no success. People seemed happy, but their lives showed otherwise. It appeared to be a futile effort. Then, one day the call to return home came out. The Czar was dying.

The soldiers sadly began their journey back home. One group of soldiers during their long walk home sat down against a large stone wall along the dusty road to rest. As they sat in the shade of the trees along the fence line, they heard a farmer on the other side of the wall. “This has been a good day. My fields are now plowed and planted. My children are healthy. I have a loving wife and good food on the table. I have been truly blessed. Today, I am a happy man.”

When the soldiers heard this, they leaped into action. They quickly scaled the wall and began to wrestle the man on the other side. He was surrounded by soldiers trying to pull him to the ground. The scene was pandemonium. Finally, one of the soldiers yelled to the others, “Someone grab his shirt!” As they reached for his shirt, they realized he wasn’t wearing one!

The moral is, “where do we look for happiness?” People look for it in different places. If I were rich, I’d be happy. If I were famous, my life would be better. “If I, If I, If I.” And that’s the problem. We think that happiness comes from what we have on the outside. We find ourselves caught in the trap that our happiness comes from fame and fortune when, in reality, it comes from within.

Happiness is a state of mind. That’s why someone who has little can be just as happy, or even more so, than someone who has much. Happiness comes from contentment, and that is controlled by how we view ourselves and life in general. If we’re always negative, if we still want more or if we’re continually dissatisfied with what life has dealt us, then we’ll never be happy.

Think about it. What are the things that make you smile and feel good? A child opening up gifts from Santa on Christmas morning? The end of a movie when the good guy wins? Thanksgiving Day with the family all gathered around reminiscing? A summer vacation where you can forget work and struggles for a week? Birthday parties? Weddings? Fulfillment? Life is meant to be a joy from the heart, and as the old saying goes, “Life is what we make it.”

I have never:

Been to the Holy Lands to walk the streets that Jesus walked
Walked the beaches of Hawaii or seen the beauty of Alaska
Seen the Pacific Ocean in person 
Skied down a snow-covered mountain or been deep sea fishing
Shot a hole in one in golf or caught a fish over 2 pounds
Been on a two-week vacation or taken a trip overseas
Been in the movies or elected to public office
Seen a space launch in person or been to Cape Canaveral
Been to Washington, D.C., or walked the streets of Paris, France
Shaken hands with a president or had dinner at the White House
Been to the Super Bowl or the World Series
Owned a Rolls Royce, Mercedes, or a yacht
Had a lot of extra money or won Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes

I have:
Been part of a state champion football team and have high school friends of over 50 years
Had the joy of marrying my high school sweetheart
Held two baby boys and watched them grow
Held and rocked my granddaughters
Seen how Jesus changes the lives of people
Been to mission churches to see how God’s glory works
Put my arm around someone who needed comforting
Known the joy of having scores of friends who care for me
Enjoyed the love of a mother and father for over 60 years

If I had to choose between what I have not had and what I’ve had, I’d choose what I have. All the things that I have not had and the places I have not been to would be temporary, but what I have lasts a lifetime.

Sometimes we carry this over in our lives, looking at what we don’t have or what we aren’t instead of what we have and what we do. 

May we always be happy with the “haves.” Look for happiness in your personal world and life around you. It’s there, I promise, if you take the time to see it for yourself.

“To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness,” Ecclesiastes 2:26 (NIV2011)

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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