When being real means more than being happy


           Happiness, all by itself, just isn’t that big a deal. That’s according to the latest research.
       All of this comes from researchers at San Diego State University who, of course, would feel that way after their team, the Aztecs, had been upset in the NCAA basketball tournament.
          Their findings, published in Clinical Psychology Review, suggest that we devote way too much time and energy on trying to make ourselves happy, and as a result, we become less happy because we are trying too hard.
      The problem, at least according to these researchers, is that we have substituted pleasure for happiness. There is a difference. Pleasure is a momentary feeling. It’s savoring a single bite in a delicious meal or hitting the sweet spot on a baseball bat or watching your team prevail in a sports contest.
     Of course, that makes me feel better already since none -- as in, zero, nada, zilch, zip -- of my teams made it into the Final Four.
       Pleasure happens in an instant and then you move on. It’s the moving on part that we fail to appreciate. Life is not, nor ever can be, a succession of unending and uninterrupted pleasurable experiences. It’s not even good for us. A good meal is one thing but if you never stop eating...well.
          These researchers say that real happiness, which lies beyond the momentary froth of feelings to substance, is an experience that includes challenges and even difficulties. Lasting happiness is a pursuit that requires us to make choices and replace pleasure with purpose.
          We are currently giving attention to the events of Holy Week. Not all of this is intended to make us feel good.
       We will relive that last meal, recall the trial and on Good Friday, remember the stark cross and the utter darkness that followed. No, these are not pleasurable things to experience or remember.
     But without them we could not have Easter.
 Greg Porterfield is senior pastor of Wesley UMC in Evans.