excerpt from Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly:
The human heart is on a quest for happiness. Every human heart yearns for happiness like the desert yearns for rain. You have a desire for happiness, I have a desire for happiness. This desire is universal, common to every member of the human family. We simply desire to be happy, and we act from this desire.
We often do things that we think will make us happy, but which in fact end up making us miserable. Under the influence of philosophies such as Individualism, Hedonism, and Minimalism, we often seek the pleasure, possessions, power, and the path of least resistance. Each of these may offer moments of happiness, but they end too soon, having lasted ever so briefly, and our quest for a lasting happiness continues. These moments of happiness are of course real, but only as real as a shadow. The shadow of a person is real, but it is nothing compared to the actual person. So many of us spend a large portion of our lives chasing shadows.
The modern search for happiness is governed by Individualism, Hedonism, and Minimalism and their fruits: greed, lust, laziness, gluttony, selfishness, exploitation, and deception. And yet, as these philosophies become more and more the focus of modern lifestyles, people seem to be filled with greater discontent and unhappiness with each passing day.
Is it possible that these philosophies cannot deliver what they promise? Is it possible that there is something lacking in these philosophies that makes it impossible for the human person to find happiness through them?
I believe God wants us to be happy. I believe God gave us the yearning for happiness that constantly preoccupies our human hearts. It is as if God placed this yearning within each human heart as a spiritual navigational instrument designed to reunite us with our destiny. As a Father who takes a sincere and active interest in the lives of His children, God sent His only Son to respond to humanity’s yearning for happiness, and to offer direction in satisfying that yearning. After all, God himself is the author of our yearning for happiness.
The philosophy of Christ is the ultimate philosophy of human happiness. At the same time, the philosophy of Christ is one of self-donation. This is the great paradox of God’s teaching. In our misguided adventures, we may catch glimpses of happiness living outside the philosophy of Christ. You may even taste happiness for a moment living a life contrary to the philosophy of Christ, but these are stolen moments. They may seem real, but they are just shadows of something infinitely greater.