As our society continues its post-Christian slide into secularism, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas have become secularized as well. One can go the entire Christmas season without seeing a mention of Christ’s birth in secular culture; Thanksgiving has become far less about gratitude to God and far more about football and feasting. Thus we should not be surprised when even gratitude becomes generically secularized. But we should not overlook the illogic of this trajectory nor the power of thanksgiving when it is properly directed.
On this Fourth of July, as you’re celebrating the independence of our nation with your loved ones, I hope you will remember that we have the opportunity to choose how we pursue happiness. I pray that you choose to pursue a lasting joy. God is the sole source of a happiness that no person or government could ever provide.
Most of us understand that money can buy the best mattress, but it can’t guarantee sleep. Why do millionaires, movie stars and top entertainers often turn to spirituality, drugs and alcohol for the answers if success satisfies? Many discover that money, fame and recognition are not the answers. CEOs, presidents and vice presidents frequently admit that they are happy when they reach production goals, but very unhappy when under budget, largely because they measure happiness by what’s happening to them. When things go well, they’re happy, when things go poorly, they’re unhappy. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be productive, but if happiness is measured by our circumstances, it’s going to be a very rough road.
Happiness is far less the result of our circumstances than our response to them. Psychologists refer to the “hedonic treadmill” as “the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” However, we were made for more than happiness.