Something most, if not all, people search for in life is happiness. It is something quite personal and difficult to enunciate for each person: dreams during our youth, security in later years. We know when we find something that makes us happy. But that in itself might not be something that will last for long. It might be a passing event, situation, or relationship. It could be the spouse that has made us deliriously happy for the last 54 years. We can search a very long time and never find what will make us happy – happy in the eyes of the World at any rate.
We often tie our happiness with freedom, a desire to live free of all constraints and inhibitions. We want to throw off the ways that keep people from “being themselves” and therefore no one and no institution has the right to force a set of rules on anyone else. Song writers tap into this desire and set these expressions to music that resonate with our senses. Chris Rea said it quite accurately in one of his songs (Gone Fishing) saying:
“ You can waste a whole lifetime
trying to be what you think is expected of you
but you’ll never be free”
But then this freedom, being tied to happiness, may not be more than temporal. It could be that this happiness is but a brief moment and we are left with a hole in our lives that will feel empty no matter how we try to fill it. It might be better to think of freedom and happiness in the sense of “wisdom”, the wisdom of God. Wisdom and virtue can indeed make us truly free and lead to happiness. “Accordingly, if man’s ultimate happiness does not consist in external things – it remains for us to conclude that man’s ultimate happiness consists in the contemplation of truth” said St Thomas Aquinas.
This isn’t that strange. We have looked for truth, for God, as our highest good since the beginning of time. So then our best, our happiness, our freedom is found there, in Him. Stop searching.