An even more poignant assessment of happiness comes from Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl.
Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.
So, I admit I began the book with a bias but nothing I read changed my view. I found the premise inward looking, suggesting all life decisions should be made on the basis of what would result in personal happiness, not what would serve the greater good. For me, the author appeared shallow and self-centred.
Convinced I was done with the whole happiness thing, I closed the book and crafted a negative review for my book club.
But the story doesn't end there. Because one book irritated me so much, I found another that has filled my soul and opened my eyes to grace in a thousand ways. The book is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Here the author recounts how she challenged herself to write down one thousand blessings that she already has, one thousand ways to find grace and soul-joy in the midst of every day life with all its hurts and ugliness as well as its moments of beauty and peace.
The writing is dense, layered and poetic. This is not a book I can read in a few sittings. I read two or three pages, then put it down and contemplate Ann's words, taking time to process and discover the deepest meaning. I'd objected to the first book as being too shallow, this one took me deep and then deeper, into the heart and mind of a true follower of Christ. No mere "pursuit of happiness" here. On these pages, the reader follows the struggle to find Christ in moments of pain or disfigurement or bereavement.
This book has enlarged me, opened me, filled me . . . and I can't stop talking about it.
Without the first book, I might never have found the second. I thank God and His mysterious ways for bringing me to One Thousand Gifts.
I highly recommend this book, the first item on my gratitude list. What's on yours?
A writer, a reader, a gardener and a knitter, a singer, a teacher, a learner and a wife, Alice is now starting her own gratitude list. One thousand seems like a very great number but no where near the number of blessings God has showered on me.
I hang out at www.alicevaldal.com or atfacebook.com/#!/alice.valdal.5