The Pursuit of Happiness

This month, we celebrated our nation's independence. We celebrated living in a country that protects our inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But this freedom to pursue happiness doesn't guarantee anything. How can we successfully achieve happiness?  Is there a guarantee?

Our diocese has spent the last two years training thousands of people in the Four Levels of Happiness.  This is an important tool for our diocesan mission.  Understanding Fr. Spitzer’s Four Level of Happiness is a great help in understanding HOW to truly be happy. 

At the first level, people experience happiness with their senses, this is a physical happiness, things like food, sex, enjoying music or movement, owning things they like.  At the second level, people experience happiness from their achievements.  They enjoy prestige and accomplishments.  These levels aren’t bad.  It is good to enjoy a delicious steak or to be happy with a job well done.  But when our happiness in life is drawn PRIMARILY from these levels, we end up miserable.  These kinds of happiness don’t last long and they can lead us to gluttony, materialism and an unhealthy competitiveness with others.

As we rise through the levels, we cross an invisible line to the third level of happiness.  At this level, we attain happiness through community, friendship, and making a positive difference for others and the world.  This is a more sustainable and meaningful kind of happiness. 

But there is another level that is even more sustainable, because it is eternal.  People who live at this level can be happy even when the other levels of happiness are failing them.  People who live at this level avoid the pitfalls into sin at the first two levels.  This is a spiritual or transcendent level.  If we live at this level, we make our relationship with God our focus and our actions and choices predominantly flow from it.  To get to this level, there is a very important step.  Prayer. 

Regular prayer, reception of the sacraments, time in quiet with our God are the necessary tools to achieve a level four, eternal and intense level of happiness.  Most of us have probably had a glimpse of this.  But do if we want to truly live there, we need to learn to pray like the saints in a deep and powerful way.  Fr. Spitzer gives us tools on this in the Four Levels of Happiness Course. 

Deacon Dan Leetch will bring an interactive workshop on The Four Levels of Happiness to your parish and personally walk you through the entire process which is obviously much richer and more detailed than this short article!  For those who still must practice quarantine or who don’t have a workshop in their area, we have a video series that allows you to self-study.