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Levels of Happiness

As we voyage across the Pacific, I am reacquainting myself with Fr. Spitzer’s 4 Levels of Happiness. We have used them when teaching Biblical marriage concepts and although the ideas harken back to Aristotle, the concepts are timeless. I’ve learned that the levels prevalent in my life will dominate my decisions, from my actions to my ethics.

As I have reviewed the material a series of Haiku’s emerged. This is an attempt to explain man’s search for happiness.

Focus
Happiness Level 1

Me, Myself, and I
Find happiness in pleasing
Desires of the flesh.

Is this level of happiness fleeting? I just bought four Hawaiian quilt bits to make into pillows when I return home. How much fabric is enough? This level tends to flee as quickly as I ‘feel’ empty again. My longing for happiness leads me to seek more and more. Immediate gratification doesn’t satisfy.

What has been is what will be,
And what has been done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

  My search continues to Happiness Level 2, where I can compare my personal achievements to others and gain joy in ALL I have accomplished. Oh, my ego loves to be served. When my conversation is lathered with the words, I, my, mine, the focus is on the Big Kahuna, me. Within me is competitiveness and a self-obsession that doesn’t endure.

Pride
Happiness Level 2

Amid the trophies
Framed Degrees hang on walls
Life’s accolades

Surely there is more to life than blue ribbons, books published, quilts finished, jobs done well. Perhaps…I can turn my thoughts outward, to others and their needs. In seeking meaning and purpose in my life I can make a difference in other’s lives.  So, I evaluate my gifts, the ways I’ve served others and been comfortable in the giving. Sometimes there is a hint of discomfort but for the most part the sacrifice of time and substance is minimal compared to the happiness I’ve found in making a difference for good in the world I inhabit.

I said I my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom,
Surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me,
And my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”
And I applied my heart to know wisdom
And to know madness and folly.
I perceived that this was
also but a striving after wind.
Ecclesiastes 1:16&17

Altruism
Happiness Level 3

My right-hand counts gifts,
The sacrifices of time
Satisfy my soul.

This is a deeply satisfying level of happiness and it is long-term. But it too fades like the morning mist when the sun breaks though. I can never seem to ‘give’ enough, nor is it praised enough to fill my quickly emptied heart. I am struck like Paul as he writes in Romans 7:24, ‘Oh, wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?’ Where is happiness that fills to the brim my aching soul?

O, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8

Transformation
Happiness Level 4

Pure love transforms me.
By sacrifice and mercy
I am free, to be.

When I share His Truth, His Words, His Love and reveal they’re from the God who created me, I find true peace. Happiness is fleeting, but joy is eternal.

Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us,
And not we ourselves;
We are His people
And the sheep of His pasture.
Psalm 100:3

Unfailing

God’s love radiates
Countenances like sunlight,
Dispelling shadows.

The Four Levels of Happiness is from the Spitzer Center. They can be contacted via email  info@spitzercenter.org. Phone 734-677-7770, or 6160 S. Syracuse Way, Suite 150, Greenwood Village, CO 80111.