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Monday, June 25, 2007
Not a small question..
Oprah had a show on "The Pursuit of Happiness", and the website includes a quiz. If you take the quiz, you can find out how happy you are. (Here's the link by the way: click here , I scored a mid-way 27.)

I often hear in speeches and in company that all that any of us want is to find happiness. I wonder though, "What is happiness"? What is it to you?



(edited to fix link and formating)
 
posted by Amie at 3:29 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


31 Comments:


  • At 6/25/2007 06:18:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    I scored 32, which they say means that I'm "extremely satisfied" with my life.

    I think I agree with them?! it's hard to tell - this isn't something I think about too often. :)

    Although I don't think that attaining happiness should be our focus as Christians. Yes, we should strive to reach our goals and improve or campaign for the issues or causes that God leads us to address...but in my opinion happiness is one possible byproduct of living a "good" life, not the measure of one.

    Of course, the definition of a "good" life and what it means to God vs. what it often means to humans is another post entirely. :)

     
  • At 6/26/2007 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Amie

    Lydia,

    I just wonder what other people are pursuing as "happiness". When I think happiness, I think "joy", "cheer", "laughter" and things like that.

    I love those things, but I like other emotions and experiences - the whole life thing. At the same time I wonder if the "life thing" IS my happiness, know what I mean?

    Thanks for answering though, and I'm glad that the quiz inspired you to think about it - and probably reflects reality. What a great thing to know: "I'm happy".

     
  • At 6/26/2007 03:10:00 AM, Blogger jledmiston

    I scored a 59 which might just be situational. Son just graduated from high school. I'm feeling especially fortunate and blessed -- he has great friends, a great future, gets to do exactly what he wants to do next. I have a Scarlet-O'Hara-complex about how we will fund this endeavor (college.) But I still feel like all will be well.

    Happiness comes, I believe, when we have a sense that we are doing what we were created to do, feel satisfaction in that, and (the bonus) have people around us cheering us on, that we can cheer on, etc. I am very fortunate.

     
  • At 6/26/2007 10:04:00 AM, Blogger Sally

    well I scored 25, whaich may again be situational- lots of presures at the moment...

    Interesting questions though, they were all inward looking- I wonder how we might like to re-phrase them?

     
  • At 6/26/2007 01:03:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I believe happiness is feeling peaceful in my body and love overflowing through my heart.

     
  • At 6/26/2007 02:03:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I scored a 29. I try to be thankful. I have a good life and realize even at it's worst times, I have not suffered many horrible things that people endure. I think due to trying to "get in to grad school", my score was not as high. I am still in the "pursuit" of the future life some, unfortunately.

    Overall, I am really happy with my life (or at least the aspects I feel I have some control over LOL!)

     
  • At 6/26/2007 02:39:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    I just wonder what other people are pursuing as "happiness".

    Good question. I don't know.

     
  • At 6/26/2007 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Candace

    To me, "happiness" has always been an odd word used to describe a place in one's life. If happiness is to be found in my life, it is through observations and little moments throughout the day...like my children playing with bubbles, or our family sitting down at the dinner table each night, or seeing the joy on my little boy's face when daddy walks in the door after work. It is a moment in my life, not my life goal.

    I scored a "25" - even though there are daily challenges and stresses in my life, I still find myself content and thankful for each and everyday...even if the quiz labels me has being happy-challenged! Rather than being in "pursuit of happiness," I suppose I tend to lead my life in a pursuit of fulfillment.

     
  • At 6/26/2007 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I scored a 28. Again, situational. Most of life is great, but I can't truthfully answer that I would do everything the same again if I had a chance...The case is I can't.

    I actually consider myself pretty "happy" amidst circumstances. I think joy and cheer are aspects of happiness, but like Jemila, I include peace. I'm not always joyful, but am more so peaceful. Being peaceful allows me to act different even in tough circumstances.

     
  • At 6/26/2007 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy, what would you change if you could?

    As a tangent question to all of you, what are some of the ways you cope with regret? Which ones bring the most happiness?k

     
  • At 6/26/2007 06:21:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I would have done grad school/seminary pre-children! But, at the time, I wouldn't have chosen seminary, so I may have ended up in a much different state of life. And I'm so excited about seminary...even if it will take me 10+ years.

    The big thing for me is that I would have realized how important it is to understand family history and relationships. I totally discounted a whole side of my family because I just thought they were "loosers." That side of the family was rife with addiction, mental illness and very poor choices. Looking back, though, I see how that was damaging to my whole family (as well as highly judgemental and prideful). I think if I had acknowledged the brokenness and its effect on my dad, I would have had more insight into my own family. I wouldn't have been so blind to the brokeness right under my own nose.

    Sorry...rather long answer.

     
  • At 6/26/2007 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Thanks for the response -- I appreciate the chance to get to know you better!

    I am on the ten-year seminary plan with three kids too ;)

     
  • At 6/26/2007 09:40:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I'm glad I'm not in it alone, Jemila!! (Too bad we aren't all closer).

     
  • At 6/27/2007 11:12:00 AM, Blogger Lori

    I just watched a movie on this theme: "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing". It was very well done, sometimes hard to watch, but it got at the essence of this "quest for happiness" in really powerful ways.

    And then there's the Switchfoot song "Happy is a yuppy word"...

    I scored a low 22 on the happiness scale, mostly because much of the "big picture" life I had dreamed of hasn't happened. On the other hand, I find myself very contented, enjoying my "small picture" present life, which is full in every way. I've come to conclude that happiness just may not be all it's cracked up to be. (sour grapes, maybe?) It's a great temporary experience (yesterday picking fresh sweet cherries, for example) but can't be expected to last. As Amie comments, it's more about the "whole life thing".

     
  • At 6/27/2007 07:30:00 PM, Blogger Happy

    Amy, I don't think I knew you were in seminary! Me, too. :) Also on the 10+ year plan. (By the time I get to the end of my program, I'll probably have to retake a bunch of classes because they were too far back in history. Who am I kidding? I'll be in school forever at this rate.) :)

    So I was going to share this when I finally got around to emailing Julie to say "hey, can I be an official emerging woman?" but since I haven't done that yet and the topic's at hand - here's the story (short version) of how I became "Happy":

    It was probably about 5 years ago now - I had just joined the worship team at a new church, and it was as though a part of me that had been sleeping for a really long time had been given new life. I love to sing, and I love to worship (they are two different things, tho I had yet to learn that). About two months after I joined the team, I went to the doctor with an earache, and it turned out I had an ear infection so bad it was initially misdiagnosed as a cholesteotoma, which is a tumor that can grow on the inside of your eardrum. Needless to say, I freaked out. I was sent to a specialist, who quickly assured me that it wasn't a tumor, just an extremely bad infection, but it had ruptured my eardrum, and there was no way to tell yet how much damage had been done. It was three months before that infection, another one in my other ear, and several other fun infections (as a result of all the antibiotics) were finally cleared up, and during that time I was in a lot of pain. The thing about an ear infection is that it's inside your head - it hurts like crazy, you can't touch it or do anything about it, you can't eat, you can't yawn, you can't sleep, and it never lets up. I had a lot of people praying for me, and some good doctors doing their best, but it just wasn't healing, and I was terrified on top of it all that I'd lose my hearing and not be able to sing anymore.

    During this time, our worship leader introduced delirious' "Happy Song" at church - you know the one:
    "I could sing unending songs of how you saved my soul" - and "everybody's singing now 'cause we're so happy" - it's all fun and country and makes you want to dance - except that it didn't make me want to dance, it made me MAD. I didn't feel like I could sing it with any kind of authenticity at all because I wasn't happy, I was miserable, and I was seriously ticked off at God for not making me well when I knew He could, and for allowing me to go through this pain and fear and uncertainty.

    A couple weeks later I was driving through town and felt compelled to stop at a Catholic church I'd been to a few times and go to Saturday night mass. I went in, and THEY sang a song about being happy, too - and I just hit the roof internally. I drove home and pretty much just blew up at God about the whole thing, and yelled in His direction, "What IS it with this happiness thing?!?!"

    Then I walked into my closet and pulled out my dictionary and looked up the word happy, and you know what I found out? According to the older dictionary I had on hand - happiness doesn't have to be an emotion. The emotion of happiness was third in the list; the first definition of happiness is to be favored by circumstance.

    I looked up and I said, "WHAT is favorable about my circumstances, God? This SUCKS." (I suspect I probably went on at great length as to how and why.) And God spoke to my heart more clearly than I had ever heard Him before. He told me that I am ALWAYS favored by the circumstances of His love for me, REGARDLESS of what else is going on in my life.

    And something in me, in that moment, changed. I still didn't know if God would heal me, or if I'd be able to hear or sing again - but it didn't matter any more, because God loved me. And that was enough.

    And as I shared that story with our worship leader and some people in the band, it started to be kind of a joke - they started asking me if I was technically happy or emotionally happy. :) And our worship leader started calling me Happy, and pretty soon it just stuck.

    And I have to say that I've found it to be pretty redemptive. Every time someone says, "Hey, Hap!" I get to remember.

     
  • At 6/27/2007 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Wow, Happy. That's a really neat story. You really were renamed when God spoke into your life.

    (BTW...I haven't actually started seminary yet, but am starting this fall. It will take forever, but I'm really looking forward to everything but the financial part)!

     
  • At 6/28/2007 11:07:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Happy, thank you so much for sharing that awesome story. I LOVE IT!

    Amy, I've only taken one class so far. Taking another and and a half this fall at a different seminary. Where are you going? Wish you lived closer too!

     
  • At 6/28/2007 06:32:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    That's a great story Happy! Hey I am with you all, also...just not doing seminary. I just took my GRE yesterday and hoping to start a masters program in the Spring...(finger's crossed)...what a great group, and nice to know many are determined like me...keep trucking everyone!

     
  • At 6/28/2007 10:03:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Congrats on taking the GRE, Michele!

     
  • At 6/28/2007 10:11:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Michele, congrats on the GRE! What will you be studying in grad school?

    Jemila, I'll be attending Denver Seminary. I looked into some distance courses, but I really like being in a classroom with other students. Where are you taking classes?

     
  • At 6/28/2007 11:07:00 PM, Blogger Lori

    Happy, thank you so much for sharing your story. You've given me a great deal to think about (let alone reminded me that I should pull out the dictionary more often!) "favored by circumstances" reminds me of the verse "the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places" (Psalm 16:6) What a fabulous definition, and one I would do well to internalize.

     
  • At 6/29/2007 07:33:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Cool Amy. I'm taking classes at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. I even have summer reading! Feels like college again :)

     
  • At 6/29/2007 10:21:00 AM, Blogger Janice

    Thought some might enjoy this link: www.reflectivehappiness.com its a different kind of happiness test - its free, you have to get around the pay options, but then can take the free tests. It gives you comparison results with those who took the test according to zip code, education level, and some other things. The questions were intriguing (to me) in and of themselves.

    As far as the OP here, to me happiness describes an experience (emotion) that comes and goes rather than a state of being. I would rather think in terms of contentedness, peacefullnesss, and joyfullness - of which I have a fair amount...and it seems to be a continually growing thing.

     
  • At 6/29/2007 11:15:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I will hopefully get my Masters of Education-School Counseling. I thought many years ago I would do marriage and family...I don't have the patience for adults! LOL...actually, I really have a passion for helping kids pursue their dreams, and become anything they want (regardless of circumstance). I, too, was interested in the concept of seminary etc., but after working for my church the last 8 months...I don't think I am cut out for it in the long haul. I am A type, in need of some structure etc. Church work is a different beast for sure...God bless those that dedicate their lives to it. Good luck to you, no matter how long it takes!

     
  • At 6/30/2007 06:56:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I like the way you described your discernment process Michele :) I honestly have no idea what I will DO for the long haul, but I have a feeling my calling with take a variety of forms. I'd like to pastor for a little while, travel and write, do some chaplaincy work, possibly abroad. I'm also interested in a program at the European Graduate School called Expressive Arts and Social Change. After all, talk is sometimes cheap and art can touch the spirit.

     
  • At 6/30/2007 10:08:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    so I scored a 15 which given the questions asked isn't that big a surprise. Life holds too many questions, stressers, and unknowns at the moment...

    I haven't read all the comments yet, I'll try to post more later.

     
  • At 6/30/2007 07:26:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Ooooh...summer reading! It does sound like college!

    I like what you shared, too, Michele. I know I won't likely end up in a traditional pastoral role as I have no interested there. I do know that seminary is part of the journey. My hope is I can paid to do something with it when I'm all done, but who knows!

    My pipe dream is to get my PhD and teach...but if I'm on a 10 year plan for an MDIV, you can all guess that I'd be in school for quite a while to get a PhD!

     
  • At 7/01/2007 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Everybody's got a pipe, so I say, go for your pipe dream! :)

     
  • At 7/01/2007 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    P.S. My mom just started a doctorate program at age 55!

     
  • At 7/01/2007 08:18:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    It just looks like we have some smart, determined women here. With hopes of helping others...I think that is pretty great!

     
  • At 7/16/2007 05:19:00 PM, Anonymous Carol

    Well you all make me feel thoroghly miserabel. I scored 16 and don't actually feel the unhappiness that might seem to suggest.

     

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