I’m a consistent overthinker, so I know a thing or two about making things more complicated than they need to be. This is especially true when it comes to the simplest, most universal goal of humanity: happiness. Let’s be real, everyone wants to be happy. The other things we chase, whether they be money, friendship, or anything else, we pursue them because we think they’ll lead us to happiness. The truth of the matter, though, is that happiness isn’t as complicated as we make it seem. All it really takes is a process, patience and time.
Finding happiness is going to be a process. It’s not impossible to just casually stumble your way into it, but I don’t like your odds. It’s going to take prayer and discernment, a consideration of the ways God has been speaking to your heart throughout your life to see what makes you happy. For me, I tried a lot of different things. I was a volunteer working with youth, I was a delivery driver, I was a snack bar attendant, I worked in a warehouse, I went to seminary, and then I worked in a parish. It’s not like these were all equally fulfilling, but I did learn a lot by looking at what I loved at each of those stops, all of which ultimately brought me to teaching. There will be some trial and error, obviously, but that is where the patience comes in.
Patience is crucial for us in a couple of ways if we want happiness. First, obviously, we have to be patient with ourselves. If we knew for sure what would bring us peace and fulfillment, we’d do it. Since we don’t, we have to give ourselves permission to stumble through things from time to time while we get it all pieced together. We need to allow ourselves to try a variety of things so we can look for the patterns, and that’s going to involve some misfires. Beyond that, though, we also need to be patient with God. A weird concept, I know, but hear me out. We know God is patient with us, and we don’t want to take that for granted, but God doesn’t see things the way we do, and we need to be ok with that. It’s not that different than the way parents and children both need to be patient with each other. It doesn’t matter that the parents are right, the child still needs to be patient in order to understand the reasoning of their parents to be able to see it. It doesn’t happen right away, so we need to give it some time.
Even if we know the process and are working on our patience, it remains work to find or achieve happiness. One thing that all work has in common, is that it takes time. Happiness, if we want it to last for any real length of time instead of being a fleeting emotion we get for a moment or two, will take time to develop and secure. Even with the process and patience taken care of, we have to be ok with the schedule being out of our control. Life isn’t going to stop being challenging, and even when we think happiness is within our grasp, there will be moments of grief and sadness mixed in, but in time, specifically God’s time, if we trust the process and trust the One who is really in charge, we’ll find what we’ve been looking for.