Humans today generally live longer and are richer than than at any other point in our history. You would think this would make us happy right? Wrong.
“In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the rate of antidepressant use in the United States rose by 400 percent between 1988 and 2008.” It is not just the U.S. Japan has one of the world’s highest suicide rates and by 2020 depression is on track to be the second most prevalent medical condition in the world. (found at http://www.nytimes.com/…/25/opinion/a-great-depression.html…)
We are not happy and I believe that part of the issue is the lie that we have been sold regarding what it means to be happy.
The contemporary understanding of happiness:
1. Pleasure and satisfaction
2. An intense feeling
3. Dependent on external circumstances
4. Transitory and fleeting
5. Addictive and enslaving
6. Irrelevant to one’s identity, doesn’t color the rest of life and creates false/empty self
7. Achieved by self-absorbed narcissism; success produces a celebrity
The “paradox of hedonism”, according to philosopher J.P. Moreland, is that this contemporary sense of happiness can never be found by seeking it! True happiness comes from living for something larger and beyond ourselves. Fulfilling who we were created to be as the image-bearers of God.
I need this reminder every day.
(for the alternative, “classical” understanding of happiness, read the rest of J.P. Moreland’s article found at http://www.boundless.org/…/2004/why-happiness-isnt-a-feeling) Also, see Moreland’s “Kingdom Triangle”