I had pondered for a good while. What is the most apt adjective for the title of this article? Chasing? Pursuing? Wanting? No, we’re hungrier. We’re actually starving. Our very souls are craving happiness; that true form of joy that is ever so elusive. Satan has utilised this hunger and we’ve become predators, preying on every chance of satisfying the beasts within.
So why can’t we find it? Why are so many of us incognito – disguised under the false pretence of happiness? Why, when you are alone, and there remains no one but you and God, you suffocate in the depths of sadness? So many of us are sad, and we’re pushed further in to the abyss every time life disappoints us. Every time we’re rejected. Every time we lose. Every time we feel hopeless that the world is never going to be kind. We’re holding out our hands, cupped, waiting to catch those inevitable tears.
I know this resonates with each and every one of us. We all do, and have, experienced sadness in our day to day lives. I’m not necessarily talking about medical depression, because that in its own right exists and is a serious and misunderstood problem in our communities for which increased awareness is imperative. Although there may be an overlap, I’m talking about situational and spiritual sadness. However, before I begin to explore the reasons and solutions, I’d like to define ‘happiness’.
I have this theory that we live our lives in stages, in beautiful ‘moments’. We’re always waiting for the ‘next thing’, the event that keeps us going till it passes, and then we begin the search for the next ‘fix’. Relate this to your own life. Perhaps, you’re waiting for the weekend, and you just live your life weekend to weekend. Perhaps you’re waiting for that meal you have planned with your friends. Perhaps it’s waiting for the next Apple release? Or the next Marvel flick? The next holiday break? Your wedding? If I could draw a graph, so many of us live in the troughs, awaiting the next peak. That next moment of subjective happiness which almost always fails to meet our hopes. What a turbulent, unstable life.
But think about what makes you happy, truly? Where do you seek it?
If it resides in materialism, then know that once attained, it only makes you thirstier. There will always be a better version to chase tomorrow. There’s always more money to be made.
If your happiness resides in your spouse or family, then know that humans by nature are volatile, and prone to change. That quality you once loved, may now not exist.
If your happiness resides in pleasing others, then not only do you neglect your own state of mind, but you’re at the mercy of those you intend to please. Sadly, humans are forever ungrateful, forever in-satiated.
If your happiness lies in self-praise and elevation, then it is only because God chooses to hide your faults. The more fame you attain, the more your faults have the potential to be highlighted. This then results in wanting that appreciation from all the wrong places. Your spouse’s declaration of love for you becomes irrelevant, because it’s just one declaration. You now seek the approval of many, and anything less will just not suffice. We want it to rain in digital hearts. Thank you, Social Media.
This is the crunch point. What if your happiness resides in sin? Pornography? In sexual gratification? In gambling or various forms of intoxication? In stealing, lying, bullying? These short, momentarily intense pleasures, are often followed by a strong sense of guilt and regret. Soon after, a tangible sense of depression overcomes you which may take a while to shake off. Then you forget how you ever felt and seek that intense moment, regrettably, once more. A fierce love-hate battle rages against yourself, until you just offer yourself to the wrong cause.
There is nothing of this world, that won’t disappoint us in some capacity. Yet, blindly, we compete with one another, slandering, fighting. We’re envious and pray for the destruction of others because our own hopes of happiness are unfulfilled. The people we hate, deep down are often experiencing the same heart-ache and disappointments as us, and are often praying against us too. What have we done? Our sadness, and inability to seek happiness, has resulted in an imploding society that’s eating itself alive. We’ve become jealous of false, temporary exteriors and we’re hunting the wrong things.
We’re sad because we feel we deserve to be Kings & Queens, wallowing in self-pity. ‘I’ve had such a tough life, and I deserve nothing but the best. Why doesn’t any one understand me? Pity me?’ What more can we expect in a self-centered society where narcissistic social media is law. The stage is big enough, but there can only be one star. Once on the stage, pretentious smiles are worn to show the world ‘we’re better off than you’. Because, of course, we need the world’s stamp of approval before we can believe things are alright. Then when no one listens, the most important thing in your life, you, becomes worthless. Imagine then seeing your worthless self every day in the mirror. You placed your pride at the hands of the world, when pride and honour come from God.
This is not an attempt to belittle our problems and self-worth – not at all. Some of us genuinely have reason to be upset, to struggle. God knows one problem may be insignificant for one, and inconceivably difficult for another. And then there’s some of us who will not leave our rooms and go on hunger strike . This is about controlling our sense of self-importance. Our emotional state is vital, but all too often is our happiness placed above The Pleasure of God. So when things fail, what do we have left to hang on to? We cut that rope a long time ago, and now the fall is inevitable.
It’s a reminder that sometimes our sadness is a front for the real issue at hand; that we lack the real drive to search for true happiness – faith.
Faith in God, in short, is happiness. When everything you do, and everything you expect, is grounded in the reality of God – happiness is but yours to take. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in seeking happiness from this world, but don’t let that be your primary source. Materialism, family, knowledge, self-importance, love and certain worldly pleasures are important to a certain extent, and we are allowed to extract enjoyment from these. But don’t forget to limit these within the rules of God, and the reality of this temporary world and the world to come. Faith, the eternal indestructible bond, is what instils joy in to everything that we do.
Without faith, we endeavour to fill our hearts from empty vessels.
It’s why we’re failing to cope as a new generation. As time progresses, we’re becoming less forgiving, and increasingly demand all the happiness from worldly avenues. When we achieve what we petulantly cry for, we spit it out ungratefully because we taste it for what it truly is. All of our hope and patience lies here in this world, in the mud and dust that is destined to perish. Why are we asking the world for something which never fully belonged to it in the first place? We must learn to find that happiness that resides with God. That complete, sweet, pure form. Whether it is personal failure, marital struggle, material loss, inter-family tension or dealing with death – feeding on that spiritual happiness gets you through.
This doesn’t mean you ignore the practical solutions. No one is suggesting you tolerate inequality, oppression or abuse. Demand your rights and be activists in the right sense. These are merely coping tactics when all other options seem unachievable. Within God, His Words, His remembrance and His messenger ﷺ , lies the ultimate victory, the ultimate joy. It’s time to regain that control over our sadness.
Remember the favours of God and all that is good in our lives. This helps us cope, by diverting attention from all that is wrong and focussing it on all that is right. But even in all that is wrong – is the pleasure of God, because He brings you nearer to Himself through it.
For how long have I misinterpreted my sadness! HOW LONG have I failed to realise that my sadness was always in my control? Why did I ever doubt my Lord and what He has planned? Any destruction and failure in my life is often a result of my own actions and sins, or that my Lord is testing me. HOW MANY times have I failed? HOW MANY times will I continue to fail and allow myself to remain sad? I don’t want to live in the troughs of my graph any more. I want a stable emotional state as much as I can help it.
When I remember the bounties my Lord has granted me of this world, it serves as a constant reminder of how unworthy I am. When things are well, I turn to my sins, and when things are down, I turn to my Lord. Yet He still helps. All praise is to Him, truly.
Turning to Him, however infrequent, is beautiful. It’s true pleasure, and an addictive taste of Paradise in this world. It’s peace that I have never experienced elsewhere, nor I ever will, in this life. I know this, yet I neglect it. Over, and over, and over again. Either the pleasures of this world lie to me, or I lie to myself. We think we can prosper from a chronic state of falsehood.
Sometimes, things are beyond our control. Then it helps to remember that our beloved Prophet ﷺ suffered more than we could ever imagine. An orphan at a young age, ridicule, hunger, expulsion, loss of children, loss of wives, physical and mental attacks, poverty. Yet whenever we hear reports about him, ﷺ, we see he was always smiling – always focussed. The faith and hope he possessed, is EXACTLY what we need to be hunting.
How cunning is Satan though, ensuring that our happiness remains a myth. He plans on letting sadness rule our lives, so his traps become that much more appealing. Let’s wash away our pain with drugs, rebellion, misleading romantic music and sexual deviance. Let’s make these the shoulder we lean upon.
Satan had convinced me to draw my sword and fight this world for all the happiness he promised it contains. He had me convinced that if I strike the world and the people I love, victory will be mine, and I shall forever be content. He had me searching desperately in absolutely all the wrong places. And my sadness made him happy.
But now I know better, and my sword has threateningly turned to Satan himself. I’m hungry for faith, and I’m craving it to the depths of my soul. It may take a while, and I may fall – but I’m hunting for the real happiness, and ain’t nobody stopping me.
by Raztweets ( MW contributor )