” . . . something pilfered our happiness. It can seem like such a fragile thing, this joy. Tomorrow scattered by the winds of a storm. Still we keep searching for it, this sense of contentment and well-being.”- Max Lucado
In Chapter 1 (“The Unexpected Door to Joy”) of How Happiness Happens: Finding Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations, Max Lucado begins with the story of Johnny Barnes (1923-2016). For forty years, Johnny greeted morning commuters as he stood on the edge of the Crow Lane roundabout in Hamilton, Bermuda.
Until the age of ninety-two, Johnny arrived at his spot at 4:00 a.m. For the next six hours, Monday through Friday, Johnny waved, smiled, and shouted his love. And the people loved him back. In fact, they called him Mr. Happy Man! Above all, if a driver missed Johnny’s smile on the first go around, that driver proceeded through the roundabout a second time to catch Johnny’s gaze. Because, as Johnny himself stated, he possessed a simple philosophy:
“We human beings gotta learn to love one another. One of the greatest joys that can come to an individual is when you’re doing something and helping others.”
Certainly, everyone craves — and benefits from — happiness. But few people, Pastor Lucado reports, seem to find it. According to the Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, roughly one-third of the people reported they were happy. Even older people no longer score higher in the areas of contentment and appreciation of life.
So, Max asks, how do we explain this gloom? Among the varied and complex answers, Pastor Lucado believes one of the answers centers around this idea: we’re using the wrong door. That’s the door advertising companies describe. The oft-used front door to happiness. Yet, that front door fails to deliver on its promise. As Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert observes:
“We think money will bring happiness for a long time, and actually it brings a little happiness for a short time.”
However, Max concludes, the sign on the lesser-used back door reminds us that happiness happens when you give.
Today’s question: In your opinion, what something pilfered our happiness? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: the Annotated Bibliography of Double Blessing