Over at The Gospel Coalition today, Ryan Hoselton takes Pharrell’s “Happy” as an entry point to discuss principles of happiness that Augustine observes in his classic work The City of God. I’m sure Hoselton would agree that there is no universe in which it’s fair to pit a 3 minute pop song against a tome of such magnitude as Augustine’s The City of God. And some took offense at the “versus” approach that Hoselton used in pitting Pharrell against Augustine. But if read with a charitable eye, the article simply points readers to seek happiness in our infinitely happy Creator.
Here are the 3 principles that Hoselton offers to help readers better understand how to rightly view happiness and to answer the question: “Am I happy?”
1) Happiness is a gift. — When we understand that happiness is a gift from God, we will seek him for it.
2) The pursuit of happiness is tied to the pursuit of righteousness. — Like a fish on dry land, we will be miserable if we try to live in a way that we weren’t meant to live.
3) Happiness consists in love for God. — Our happiness is as strong and lasting as the things we love. If we look for it in “things that are material, temporal, mutable, and mortal,” then our happiness will be superficial, short-lived, and fickle (VII.19).
“Augustine wrote, ‘Many people are miserable because they love what ought not to be loved, and are still more miserable when they enjoy it’ (VIII.8)… For Augustine, the happy person is one who knows and participates in God’s love, goodness, beauty, and grace.”
Your turn. Are you happy? How would you know?
Alex Crain is the editor for Christianity.com
“You know, I never trusted happiness. Never have, never will.” – Mac Sledge