Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Happiness

on 30 October 2009

Ah yes, conviction from the lyrics of popular songs. Shallow as it may seem, I often find myself challenged by the thoughts and ideas expressed in these silly little songs. Currently, I’ve got the words from Wicked’s “Thank Goodness” bouncing around inside my head and making me think about the nature of happiness and contentment. For those of you unfamiliar with the play, a little plot summary is in order. Buckle up!

Basically, the Wicked Witch of the West is not so wicked after all, rather the Wizard and his PR staff decided to make her the fall person for their mistakes. Their belief is that if people have one thing to fear (that really isn’t a threat to them), then they feel more secure overall when the powers that be wholeheartedly pursue that “evil”. This song comes when Glinda (who has been pressured into being the “nice” face for the Wizard) is announcing a day that’s hopefully wicked-free. She is the third most powerful person in Oz, she has powers beyond her skills, and she is announcing her engagement to the man she loves, even though she knows that he is really in love with the Wicked Witch. Glinda should be amazingly happy. Summation over… here come the lyrics:

That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated

But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:

(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo

Who
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?

Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Thomas Jefferson did grant Americans the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Is it really happiness when your wildest dreams come to pass? Just because the impossibly wonderful happens, are you guaranteed happiness? To be honest, that has not been my experience or observation. I know people who, like Glinda, have gotten out of the blue everything they could have dreamed of and more…yet they spend hours upon hours crying their hearts out. I know people who have made their dreams come true… and then they change their dreams and start the pursuit all over again because they are miserable. Then there are the people who have had their dreams crushed, pulled away from them, and shoved out of reach. Yet somehow, even though they aren’t getting what they wanted or dreamed, they find happiness and contentment.

It is too tempting to compromise who you are in the active pursuit of happiness. “There’s a kind of a sort of : cost. There’s a couple of things get: lost. There are bridges you cross you didn’t know you crossed until you’ve crossed.” These are powerful sentiments. Is the pursuit of happiness ever worth doing something you may one day regret? Should we power blindly on in hopes that the end result will justify and wipe out all the things we did to get there? No, it is better to be mildly dissatisfied and unhappy than to have regret. I’ve yet to meet a regret-filled person who was also truly happy- the two sentiments just don’t go hand in glove. I love the scene in All About Eve when Bette Davis is discussing the rise of her career. She’s filled with regret for all the morals, talents, relationships she’s lost because she dropped them in favour of getting to the top faster. Brilliantly, she sums up the problem with this method of living, reminding us that everything we compromise and we will want back because we “forget that we need them again someday”.

I’m not saying that good things coming our way shouldn’t make us happy- I guess that I just see this happiness as much more temporal than other forms. Tonight, for instance, I have every reason to be happy. I helped a friend safeguard precious memories of a trip, went out to a play and dinner for some ever rarer Mom and daughter time, got to talk to some friends, was included in a “super-secret” feature test on Twitter (mm-mmmm, can’t talk about it!), and learned that I’m receiving a new unpublished mystery book to review. I am very, very happy! (Not to mention that I got both my contacts out on the first try tonight. Yahoo!) However, this is all situational happiness. All it will take is a snub, a slight, a stare tomorrow to send me back towards my stressful, wearying world of reality. It’s a good world, please don’t get me wrong, and I am happy; but it is not a euphorically happy world- no one’s is.

The key is to find true happiness; to sit back in the middle of your darkest depression and think of all the wonderful things you possess. To think about the God Who loves you, the glory and grandeur of the world to come, the fleetingness of misery in life, and the permanence of happiness in the kingdom of God. With such treasures as these ahead, what does it matter if things aren’t all hunky-dory at the moment? Happiness is a choice, a state of mind that you choose to indwell. Don’t let circumstances weigh you down, but let the love of God lift you up. In Him you will find the kind of happiness that doesn’t fade away.

Wanna hear the song for yourself? Then click here!

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