I’ve had numerous conversations with people whose general outlook on life, ethics, meaning, and philosophy can be summed up with this statement: “Just try and be happy, man. If something makes you happy, it’s good. Don’t let people tell you otherwise. Don’t get hung up on ‘this is right’ or ‘this is wrong.’ Try not to take away from other people’s happiness in the process, either; that’s not cool.”
On the one hand, this simple (hippie) philosophy makes a lot of practical sense, even on a logical level. There are many ethical guidelines out there, and lot of them disagree. Epistemologically speaking, how can I ever know which guideline is real? And, for someone who hasn’t experienced the living Creator, there doesn’t seem to be a purpose for picking one specific guideline and living one’s life according to it. We all seek happiness, so just try to be happy – it’s as simple as that.
What is interesting about most people who subscribe to this philosophy is their lack of vision. They never truly ask the all-important question, “What will truly make me happy?” If Happiness is their mantra, you’d think they’d be more concerned with analyzing and exploring the nuances between different sorts of happiness, distinguishing between long-term and short-term happiness, etc.
It’s like a man who says, “I want my body to feel good.” If he doesn’t truly analyze the process by which his body will “feel good,” he’s a fool. If his body temporarily feels good when he eats a Big Mac, that doesn’t mean that it will feel good after a month of having 3 per day. In the same way, when most people seek Happiness, they seek very temporal modes of Happiness (or, what they mistake as Happiness: Pleasure, etc.).
In conversation with one such fellow not that long ago, I looked into his eyes and said, “Well, is how you live your life truly bringing making happy then?” The answer was stilted, but eventually a “no” was uttered. He asked me if I was, and I had to say “most of the time.” But, almost to a tee, every one of my non-happy moments and areas in my life are connected to either Sin or an inability to give over to God.