Happiness hasn’t always been defined as:
state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy
[HT Wintry Knight]
Our founding fathers understood the pursuit of happiness to mean the pursuit of a virtuous life. This concept of happiness comes from the Greek word eudaimonia—which refers to a life well-lived, a life rooted in truth. That is what happiness means, and that is what every man and woman has an inalienable right to pursue—a virtuous life.
And as I wrote in my book The Good Life, this is the definition of happiness that we need to reclaim in American life—especially within the Church. After all, a Barna survey revealed that more than half of evangelicals agreed with the statement: “The purpose of life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment.”
Come on. If the last 50 years have taught us anything, it’s that consumerism and hedonism (the pursuit of unbridled pleasure) do not lead to happiness, but instead to personal and societal misery.
[…]The goal is not pleasure; it is righteous living, decency, honor, doing good—in short, living a virtuous life.
Here is a brief lecture from JP Moreland outlining the issue:
For a more in-depth understanding of this subject, take a look at JP’s book, “The Lost Virtue of Happiness“.
Additionally, here is an interview with JP Moreland on happiness where he also discusses his battle with depression.
So when we talk to people in our current culture about “the good life”. It is helpful to point out that how we define a goal such as happiness determines how we go about achieving it. Or, as Socrates so eloquently put it:
The unexamined life is not worth living