Friday, 15 March 2013

Happiness: Truth or Dare?

Happiness: Truth or Dare?
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for”(Dostoevsky).

The very moment I was born into this world, I took my first steps into the light of the world and began an epic journey: my journey.  This adventure would take me across deserts of turmoil, plains of peace, mountains of liberty, oceans of exploration, and the forests of wonder, but at the end of it all, what is there to live for?  The sun rises and sets everyday, set in the celestial clockwork.  I sometimes gaze into the world around me and wonder for what purpose I was created.  What is it that drives me forward in my life?  What is it that pushes me across the mountains, plains, and deserts in my journey?  This search for purpose brought me to the discovery of happiness.   I ask myself what exactly is happiness, and how can I obtain it?  

   In my college English class, my professor asked the class to read an excerpt on happiness by Arthur Brooks and write a response to it.  In his excerpt from “Inequality and (Un)Happiness in America,” Arthur Brooks explains that happiness is founded in economic success and the ability to move capital.  His excerpt sent a message to me that the influence of wealth is one of the sources of happiness.  He also noted that having the ability to choose a better lifestyle brings happiness.  For example, if I had the option of getting an “A” or a “B” on this paper, I would, of course, choose the “A”.  Having this mobility empowers my life, and brings a sense of security and peace.  

   I believe that Brooks hit the mark to a certain extent but left many stones unturned and perhaps connected some of the wrong dots.  I think that Brooks is right to some degree when it comes to equating happiness to economic success.  Economic success can certainly bring some freedom and security, but you don’t necessarily need it to be happy.  For example, I know several families who aren’t very well off financially, but they are “happier,” have a greater sense of purpose, and have a stronger desire to live than some of the other families who are much better off.  I think that financial mobility can certainly add onto the happiness that you already possess, but it is simply not meant to be a foundation.  After all, it is just printed paper and stamped plated metal.  

   I turned to my mother for help and guidance concerning this subject of happiness and inner peace.  She told me that from her experience happiness is something that is entirely mental.  I can choose to be happy, or I can choose otherwise, it’s up to me.  I can see why this can be true, knowing that I can govern and control my emotions.  A great example of this is Job.  Even when he was experiencing the greatest affliction, he would not turn against God, but continued to praise and trust Him.  My mother also told me happiness comes from “having a peace with God and by doing His will.”  This makes sense in my mind since the Bible declares repeatedly throughout its timeless parchments that those who follow God with their whole heart will receive the blessings of God.  Coming from a strong Adventist home, I have experienced those blessings, and have found life to be worth living.    

   When I was young, my friends and I used to play a game of Truth or Dare.  In this game, a person has the opportunity to share some hidden dark truth, or to accept a dare which another person would reveal.  The fun in this game is the difference between the truth and the unknown dare: you know what truth you have, but you don’t know the dare that could be offered to  you.  I think that finding happiness is kind of like this game.  Many people can offer you, or dare you, to choose one road to ‘happiness.’  Many common deceptive roads include wealth, celebrity, power, sex, and popularity.  While these roads may bring some happiness to you, it isn’t complete; it leaves much more to be desired.  

   When I was in my teenage years, I was already deep in the exploration of happiness.  I was dared to pursue economic success and popularity as my happiness, and I liked that, so I pursued the offer.  A couple years down the road, I was still pushing for my happiness, but I was empty inside.  I wasn’t happy, but the image of money and popularity continually flashed in my mind and kept me pushing forward.  For my junior year of high school, I decided to go to Fountainview Academy, a Seventh-Day Adventist Academy in British Columbia, Canada.  When I arrived there, I found that everyone was smiling, happy, and cheerfully going about their day.  This disturbed me, a lot.  Suddenly there were two forces fighting for supremacy in my head.  One force pushed me further down the path I had already trod for several years, while the other force urged me to find out how these other teenagers seemed so happy and follow their example.  After several days of fighting within myself, I knew what I wanted.  I knew that I wasn’t happy, and that I wanted what these other people wanted.  Over the next couple years, I came to meet Jesus as my personal Savior, and I have to say that I am more than happy, and feel like I need to share what I have learned with everyone around me.  I now know what it means when David says that “my cup runneth over”(Psalm 23:5 KJV).

   God made me from a special portion of his heart, and He wants me to find happiness in the life that He has given me.  I believe that happiness comes from a close relationship to God, and being a servant to His will.  King David writes, “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God”(Psalm 146:5 KJV).  The adversary of Christ, the Devil, has ‘dared’ me to find different roads to primary happiness and has blurred the distinction between God’s Way and his alternatives.    

   From experience, I would say happiness is being content with the road that I am traveling on.  It’s possessing and cherishing a will to live.  This will is what sets humans apart from the rest of creation.  A treasure of creation in itself, it’s what empowers me, gives me motivation, shows me a hope, and keeps me putting one foot in front of the other in the road of life.  My soul is what gives me strength to push the limits of possibility, to carry the burdens of life, and to press great obstacles out of the way.  

   Life is like an endless chain of mountains, but in order to get anywhere in this journey, I have to begin.  There may be no end, but the key is that I enjoy exploring through these mountains, and that with every step I take I am making progress.  Progress, I find, is a truly enjoyable attribute.  For example, I would rather do poorly on an exam but then study hard and do very well on the next one than just perform mediocrely on both, just as Brooks suggests that having the mobility to improve my condition provides happiness.  There is so much to discover about God’s love and His creation.  Many people search for the ‘shortcut’ or seek for the easy and careless way, but they don’t realize that happiness in life is not so much a destination, but a journey, producing its wonders every step of the way.  

   Truth or dare?  Would you like my secret truth, or should I dare you to take some other path?  I feel like I have gotten closer to the truth of happiness, and that it has been unfolding in my life, petal by petal.  As my mother said, happiness can only truly be found in God, and in following His plan, His road, for my life.  It is a journey, and is not like unwrapping a birthday present.  It takes more than a lifetime to discover.  It’s a road that leads ever upward, ever onward.  Having the choice, and mobility to choose this road, as Brooks suggests, I can attain true happiness.  Having traveled this path for the last several years, I have found this road to be the best road, and I look forward to climbing higher, throughout eternity.  

Works Cited

   Brooks, Arthur. Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America - and How We Can Get More of It.  Basic Books, 2008, Print.

   Various Authors.  Bible.  Remnant Publications, 2010, Print

   Dietel, April.  Phone interview.  February 25, 2013

   Dostoevesky, Fyodor.  The Brothers Karamazov. 1880.  Good Reads.  Web.  February 20, 2013

Monday, 25 February 2013

Spreading Sunshine

    Think about this...

   Sunlight contains the full spectrum of visible light, but each wavelength is superimposed to make it look white.  In order to see the different beautiful colors, such as blue and green, the light has to be reflected off of something.  More energy absorbent materials will reflect different colors than less absorbent materials.

   Sure, we could just stand in life and soak up the Sunshine, but why not reflect some of it and add some color to someone's life?  Be happy!  Smile!  :)

Saturday, 23 February 2013


Moving Mountains

With sweat bearing down from the leather of my face,
Spears of wind thrown for my courage to erase,
Icy shards of water crashing on my skin,
Flashes of lightning bolts sent to wear me thin,
My sore, coarse hands are put against granite,
Set on removing mountains from this planet.
With tireless vigor my muscles are strained,
But after the push, the mountain still remained.
Once again my trembling fingers feel the rock,
But I wonder why you look at me and mock.
Is it because you deem it impossible,
Or that it is entirely implausible?
Can't you see that this is my life, a hard life:
A life full of solitude, hardship, and strife?
But I choose this because nobody else will;
I shall be the first to explore past this hill!
These mountains are certainly impassible,
There's one way to make a road compatible.
Forever I shall be pushing 'gainst these stones
And discovering a world full of unknowns.
You laugh and say I can't remove this mountain?
Just watch as I remove this stony curtain.
This is not my first, take a look behind me;
Where you built your house, a mountain used to be.

                                   - Justin Dietel                                     

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Hello again!

   Yes, college life is very strenuous, so that's why I haven't had time to post anything.  I still don't.  :P  But, I thought that I would let myself, or anyone else that still follows this blog of mine, know that I'm still alive.  It's been a hard year so far, but it has been a big blessing.  I've learned things that I never could have imagined before.  I've grown spiritually in dimensions that I never could have fathomed.  In all, it's been a good year, so far.  I would really appreciate your prayers, since I am often struggling with not being able to be socially active.  God's going to have to provide a way...

   Until an unforeseen time, farewell.