Correlation Between Happiness and Character

Happiness is not contrary to character, but complementary to it. Happiness, properly understood, is not merely the thin, shallow concept of an elated emotion that changes minute by minute, but the state of wellbeing (shalom) that one lives virtuously, day by day. This Christian concept of happiness is the result of sanctifying one’s character through acts of self-sacrifice. But self-sacrifice is not the end goal. If you ask anyone why s/he chooses to live dutifully, most likely s/he will answer that s/he wants to be happy or live the “good life.” But that implies self-interest. There is nothing wrong with self-interest. Christ taught us that self-interest is embedded in the very fabric of love: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31, emphasis added). No! It is selfishness that we are to oppose if we want to live the “abundant life” Christ spoke of and modeled.

Chester Delagneau

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