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Published May 06, 2011, 12:00 AM

Val Farmer: Path to true happiness isn’t always so obvious

Happiness is unselfish. Happiness comes from combining several things that you do well in your life without undo concern for finding happiness.

By: Val Farmer, INFORUM

Happiness is unselfish. Happiness comes from combining several things that you do well in your life without undo concern for finding happiness. Pursuing happiness too directly becomes self-serving and defeats one main ingredient – losing yourself in meaningful activity or service outside oneself. This is the hardest and most precious lesson in life to learn.

“Happiness is like manna; it is to be gathered in grains, and enjoyed every day. It will not keep; it cannot be accumulated; nor have we got to go outside of ourselves or into remote places to gather it, since it has rained down from heaven at our very doors. Seek happiness for its own sake, and you will not find it; seek for duty and happiness will follow as the shadow comes with sunshine.” – Tyron Edwards

“To pursue joy is to lose it. The only way to get to it is to follow steadily the path of duty, without thinking of joy.” – A. Maclaren

“Happiness is the legitimate fruitage of love and service. Set happiness before you as an end, no matter in what guise of wealth, or fame; or oblivion even, and you will not obtain it. But renounce it and seek the pleasure of God, and at that instant is the birth of your own.” – A.S. Hardy

Happiness is active. You can ask a happy person if they are happy. They will stop, pause and be puzzled. Of course they are happy; they just haven’t thought much about it. They are too busy engaging in a good cause to dwell on it. Ask an unhappy person if they are happy and they will tell you chapter and verse all the things that are wrong with their life. They think a lot about it.

“No thoroughly occupied man was ever yet very miserable.” – L. E. Landon

“Happiness consists in activity. Such is the constitution of our nature. It is a running stream, and not a stagnant pool.” – J. M. Good

Happiness is growth. One of the purposes in life is to enlarge our capacities and to develop the talents, gifts and destiny that lie within us. We need to meet the challenges of life and gather strength and meaning by fully engaging all our powers. Happiness comes with a sharp focus and vision of who we are and by doing worthwhile things. Personal fulfillment comes with a price.

“Joys are our wings; sorrows our spurs.” – Richter

“Joy is bread and sorrow is medicine.” – W. H. Beecher

“Here below is the land of happiness; it is only the land of toil; and every joy which comes to us is only to strengthen us for some greater labor that is to succeed.” – Fichte

“Happiness is like a sunbeam, which the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring.” – Chinese proverb

“This is the true joy of life - the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown to the scrap-heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances.” – G. Bernard Shaw

Happiness is virtue. Happy people live up to their own values, standards and sense of morality. This means being true to their deepest sense of what is right and wrong and living up to their spiritual and moral understandings of how life should be lived. This brings a good conscience, personal integrity and inner peace.

“Happiness and virtue rest upon each other; the best are not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best. We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of moments.” – Bulwer

“The strength and the happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that direction.” – H.W. Beecher

Happiness is shared. There is joy in belonging, in being accepted, of loving and feeling loved, of being in harmony with those around you and in sharing life’s wondrous moments. Happiness is unity and communion with God, with nature and with other people.

People are social. Their lives need to be shared. Sharing triumphs, humor, fun, excitement and enthusiasms within the security of caring relationships brighten and lighten the day.

“The very society of joy redoubles it; so that, while it lights upon my friend it rebounds upon myself, and the brighter his candle burns the more easily will it mine.” – South

Happiness is contentment. People create their own unhappiness through their own desires and expectations. To live simply and within reality brings simple pleasure while wanting what is outside of our reach can torment and disturb us. To be easy going, agreeable, accepting, patient and tolerant takes the edge off life’s imperfections.

“Happiness consists in being perfectly satisfied with what we have got and with what we haven’t got. It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Spurgeon.

Happiness is the accumulation of good memories. Memories will warm your soul and bring happiness to older age.

“All mankind are happier for having been happy, so that if you make them happy now, you make them happy 20 years hence by the memory of it.” – Sydney Smith

Are you happy? Don’t worry about it. Get on with life – the right kind of life.


Val Farmer is a clinical psychologist specializing in family business consultation and mediation with farm families. He lives in Wildwood, Mo., and can be contacted through his website www.valfarmer.com.

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