Happiness isn’t wholeness

Let’s dance the night away. Party ‘til the break of dawn. DJ turn the music up. We just want to have a good time. We own the night. And then we do it again.

Just a few generic pop lyrics that are strewn through every song that people say, “I just like the beat” about. But as much us people think they can switch off and let the music rock their bodies – the message stands firm and is way more exposing than one thinks at first. We have been sold the lifestyle of ‘chasing the moment’ – a dogged chase for the thrill and the high. We have been told to allow ourselves to let go and be free of our troubles. But ignoring the debilitating problems in our own lives and communities cannot be seen as right… Yes, ‘letting your hair down’ once in a while is important. Fun is a crucial part of life – even God says so. But there is something way greater than living for the moment.

I have found this in my own life. You chase the moments that are fun and exciting – while hating the moments and processes in between. And after living like that for a few years, it turns out I was more exhausted and empty than ever. This way of living doesn’t only pertain to night-life and weekend parties. It can just as much be found in extensive trips away for weekends, obsessively working for the euphoria of achieving, chasing the next big event or conference and even going from Sunday to Sunday in church. We were not made to live for moments we were made to live in every moment.

If we approach life by trying to imitate the happiness of people who are truly living, you will have a chain of Pyrrhic victories – where it looks like you’re living your best life, and you are able to fool yourself for short periods of time, but your soul is actually deteriorating. Happiness is the by-product of a whole person. It is the overflow of a satisfied soul – not the fuel to keep you going when times get tough.

The process

We are basically looking for the fruit in life all year round, when there are three seasons that are crucial in actually producing good fruit. It’s chasing down what is sweet, when what is bitter, what is salty, what is stinky and slimy are all part of the process to reach that point. The poop in the manure in this season will be the intense flavor of your fruit in the next. The barren cold time, when all you can do is endure, is actually the season that strengthens you enough to grow and extend your branches, which enables you to carry more fruit in the next year. The peaceful, quiet seasons might be frustrating but Spring – where you need your soul to thaw out so that the hope of your dreams coming true can blossom – is coming.

I know I have got extremely agricultural, but I hope you understand. If we don’t weather every season well, we will end up with limited fruit. And it won’t be as sweet. In fact, the less we engage with every part of our life and deal with it head on, the more the quality of our happiness will deteriorate. I work with young adults and I have seen the result of living like this constantly – it could very well be the reason depression is rife in our generation.

It’s not ‘chicken or egg’

Many people think that happiness automatically means wholeness. But you don’t get happy first and then become whole. In essence, happiness can give you a false sense of wholeness for a time. But if you want the real thing, you are going to have to be willing to be unhappy and uncomfortable for a while first.

Your whole life could be better all the time. You can find yourself living full and increasing every day. The hard stuff still weathers you but your core conviction that is built on the experience and credibility will be strong enough to take it. Is it harder to chase wholeness than happiness? Yes! Of course. But if you are whole you won’t have to chase good times. They will be a natural part of your life.

Increased wholeness = Increased in quality of happiness

Ways to chase wholeness

There are many things that I have found that helps you nurture wholeness in your life. Many of them are unpleasant and could even seem ridiculous. But I can guarantee that they will result in fuller life. I confess there was a time when I completely failed in all of them but over time and out of immense frustration I have learnt these things are key to living whole.

  1. Delayed gratification. Yup – there is no way to go around this. The only way you grow internally is by exercising self-control. You might not see how they are linked in theory, but in practice I can tell you it is extremely clear. You might think it impossible to stop eating sugar cold-turkey or to only look at your phone once you are done eating breakfast. But starting small. Say ‘no’ to one nice thing today: that tempting Facebook stalk or that nosecond helping of dessert. Maybe it’s not looking at your phone while driving – or turning your phone off for half an hour and seeing what life is like without it.
  2. Brutal honesty. No one can get through any issue they aren’t able to address head-on. The only barrier between you and your wholeness is your willingness to be honest with yourself and others who are around you. If you want to be whole, you are going to have to start addressing the areas where you’re empty and asking ‘why’: not settling for the surface level answers, but going to the uncomfortable truth that lies beneath the years of insecurity that is fracturing your identity.
  3. Chase Jesus. Ultimately Jesus came to reinstate us with God. Without a relationship with God, we cannot truly be all we are. We were made with an inbuilt dependency on God for a reason. His love and His joy, as well as His counsel and guidance are all final cogs in the engine room of our souls. If you would like to find out more about how you can chase wholeness by knowing the God who made you, click on the link below.

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