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The Pursuit of Happiness

05-27meaning

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

In the National Post edition dated April 29, 2017, there was an article reporting on big ideas shared that week at the international TED conference in Vancouver. The writer focused on ideas related to “living longer and better in three easy steps.”

I was struck by the third step, which focused on the meaning of life. The following quote captures the writer’s point. “The quest for happiness doesn’t make us happy. In fact, Emily Esfahani Smith realized, constantly evaluating our own happiness is actually contributing to feelings of hopelessness and depression. Happiness is a fickle emotion, fleeting, based on a moment or an experience. What’s really making us feel sad is not a lack of happiness, it’s lack of meaning, she said.”

It is interesting to juxtapose the foregoing opinion with the following quote from the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Whether or not we agree that the pursuit of happiness is a right, the reality for most of us is that the search for happiness is often deeply unsatisfying. In my case, I once thought that achieving happiness was a function of business success. While such success was indeed gratifying, the flush of accomplishment did not satisfy my heartfelt need for meaning.

I finally satisfied my quest for meaning (and happiness) in my thirties. Ironically, it occurred at a moment in my business career when I was experiencing substantial success. At the time, I was being pursued by two major financial institutions to join them in a senior capacity. Success notwithstanding, I felt empty due to my unsatisfied desire to discover the meaning of my life beyond setting and exceeding personal goals and the associated material rewards.

Mary finally persuaded me to join her at church one Sunday morning in Montreal. During the service, I had an encounter with Jesus Christ that was so vivid it overwhelmed my senses. In an instant, I had found the meaning of my life. It was not an experience. It was the person of Jesus! My life has never been the same and I can truly relate to the following passage from the Bible.

“Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: ’I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.’ ” (John 10:6-10, NLT)

Are you experiencing a rich and satisfying life?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.