November 2006 - Volume 11, Issue 4


By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of a child in with pumpkinsAs we celebrate Thanksgiving, I would like to share with you some thoughts on a book called Artificial Happiness by Doctor Ronald W. Dworkin. One of his basic themes is that most people in this country don't have true or genuine happiness for any sustained period of time. One of his basic theories is that most people are followers and they have a herd conformity pattern. In other words, following the crowd. He claims millions of Americans have had through primary care givers all sorts of medications to give them a degree of happiness that only works for a short time and that millions of Americans have been told that alternative medicine from yoga to meditation is a great help in securing happiness. And the last factor that is productive of happiness is constant and even at times excessive headaches. He blames, in great part, the upheaval that has taken place in the medical profession. His basic theory on this theme of happiness is that doctors have basically misjudged human beings. They, the doctors as a group, have never been able to answer the question: "How should one live?" He concludes his book telling us where to find the answer, "how should one live", by going to a local bookstore, spending about $50 and reading all the best theologians and philosophers of the past and applying their ideas to the problems of every day living. And live according to the dictates of your conscience (no drugs, no alternative medicine, no obsessive exercise needed).

When you look back into the great theologians, spiritual leaders of the past, great philosophers, most of them took the problem of happiness and reduced it to one word. The word was relationship. Your relationship with God, your family and yourself. St. Augustine knowing there never would be perfect happiness in this word once wrote, you have made us for yourself, o God, and our hearts will not rest until they rest in thee. Billy Graham talking about one's relationship with God as a key to happiness added, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

The second aspect of happiness is our relationship with others. The great French philosopher, Albert Camus, once said, "there is no life worthwhile unless it is lived in relationship with another". If you, which you are on this earth, don't reach out to another then you can expect an extra dosage of loneliness or depression in your life. Abraham Lincoln has a beautiful line when he said, "you are as happy as you make up your mind to be." In preparing people (young people) for marriage today you have to emphasize over and over again, "you are personally responsible for your own happiness." It is wonderful if a husband and wife supply each other with a constant degree of happiness, but the responsibility for personal happiness, no matter what your vocation, is personally yours. Our search for happiness is definitely dependent on our relationship with God or friends or family.

Photo of an Autumn sunriseThe last part of happiness that has to be cultivated is our relationship with ourselves. Christ made it very clear when he said, love your neighbors as you love yourself. If you are selfish and self centered and self absorbed in yourself, your life on this earth is going to be quite unhappy. And any happiness you have will be basically artificial. If you are a person of charity, compassion and consideration, basically, if you are a giver, your happiness will be genuine and rewarding.

The book I mentioned to you at the beginning of this editorial is called Artificial Happiness. You can cultivate it and be quite unfulfilled or you can listen to the teachings of Christ and implement them. By this you shall be my disciple, if you have genuine love for one another. The choice is basically yours— to follow the Christ who said have confidence in me and I will help you overcome the world.