The pursuit of happiness- an excerpt

8 09 2007

This is a bit by my favorite author, D.E. Stevenson.  It’s from her book, “Mrs. Tim Gets a Job:”

     She asks me if I am really happy, and if so, why… I enquire why Mrs. Wilbur thinks happiness is so important.
      She looks at me in amazement and says the pursuit of happiness is one of the chief aims set forth in the Declaration of Independance.
      This silences me completely, but Mrs. Wilbur insists that I must explain my views on the subject.  She presses me so hard that at last I am forced to admit that I think the pursuit of happiness an ignoble aim and a selfish aim and, as selfish people are never happy, a foolish aim.
       Mrs. Wilbur exclaims, “Happiness foolish?  Not to this chicken!” and looks so shattered that I feel I may have hurt her.  However she soon recovers and to my surprise comes back for more, assuring me that she can take it.
       I continue by saying that in my humble opinion happiness is a priviledge, not a right.  It comes, not to those who pursue it for themselves, but to those who try to give it to others.  The more you pursue happiness the more it eludes you… and those who grasp at happiness attain despair.

Quite so!  As I have been trying to explain to my sulky eldest son for a month now, it is more blessed to give than recieve, and those who chase pleasure will end up with a fist full of discontent.  To wit: get up off the couch and go do something for someone!  
      It is more worthwhile to pursue joy, peace, and a quiet concience.  Pleasure is fleeting, but the satisfaction of duty well done lasts a while, and love sown abroad brings it’s own return.
       If only I could add to the discipline of doing my duty the blessing of doing it with a good temper!  Afraid I do most of my work in a rather resentful frame of mind.  Absolutely positive it is impossible to do housework “as unto the Lord” as I can’t imagine Jesus stomping pieces of cheese stick into the rug or wiping printer ink on the garage floor. “What Would Jesus Do?” also a fruitless question as the bible only shows Jesus patting the little children on the head and blessing them.  Very little guidance on what he might do when the little darlings persist in putting their feet on each other and screaming “He’s/She’s touching me!” in the car.  Although I am sure that, were he faced with such a situation, he would not do what I did about it.

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