Nothing will so surely create misery than to strive for happiness.
Happiness is secondary. Happiness is a byproduct. Happiness comes when pursuing something other than happiness.
C.S Lewis understood: “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.”
What is first for you? What are you pursuing? Significance? Stuff? Relationships? Money? Whatever it is, you may be pursuing it because in your heart of hearts you believe that it will “make you happy.”
Jesus spoke about all the stuff after which people chase. Wealth. Material goods. Security. And then He told His followers not to pursue these things. Instead, He gave counterintuitive advice: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Including joy, which is better than happiness. Joy is deeper. It lasts longer. It proceeds from Christ and stands immune to the winds and waves and storms of this life.
A childhood song says, “Happiness is two kinds of ice cream, finding your skate key . . . playing the drum in your own school band,” and “walking hand in hand.” Happiness is thus vulnerable. If your ice cream melts, your skate key finds the bottom of a trashcan, the school district cancels music classes, and your friend moves to the other side of the country, then happiness falters.
But joy in Christ endures. Nothing can take you from Christ or Christ from you. So pursue that which is first. Pursue Christ. Pursue His Kingdom and righteousness.
When you do so, happiness will often follow.
But if happiness is first, Christ is not.