Before giving attention to the question let me make a personal observation. For over 40 years the comics have not allowed for me even a passing glance. As a youngster the daily and Sunday comics in the newspaper provided the greater part of entertainment.
That aspect of life disappeared and attention was turned to more valuable subjects and things. A few months ago, for some reason, the comics captured my attention for a day, and then another. I found that the reference of funny pages, as the section with all the picture and stories of various people, was commonly called were not all funny. There were some great lessons found in some of those strips.
And so it was with the comic strip Hagar the Horrible and the question presented. Hagar approached the wise man of the kingdom and asked, “What is the secret to happiness, O Wise One?”
The learned old man answered, “I have spent my life pondering that very question, my son.” He then told of his pursuits with these words, “I’ve consulted the world’s greatest philosophers, I’ve consulted our most renowned religious leaders, and I’ve consulted some of the greatest minds of our times.” The wise old Sage continued by saying, “Based on this information, I’ve finally reached a conclusion!
Hagar anxiously asked, “So, What is the secret to happiness O Wise One?”
With both arms extended and hands turned up the Sage meekly answered, “Who knows?”
Isn’t that the plight of all humanity? The country song alludes to the idea of “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Do we not all stumble in darkness looking for happiness?
During a long teaching career I had the opportunity to tell discouraged and distraught young people that happiness was one of the most elusive commodities in the world. The point was emphasized that one had to give diligent effort to finding happiness and diligent effort in preserving it.
Lest I violate the rule so often quoted during the past 40 years saying “A proposition well defined is half argued,” let me note with you that happiness is a feeling characterized by several emotions such as contentment, pleasure, gladness, joy, bliss, and cheerfulness. Certainly, included in this list should be a feeling of thankfulness to God and a sense of fellowship with Him.
Thomas Jefferson spoke on the theme of achieving happiness with these words: “Perfect happiness, I believe was never intended by the Deity to be the lot of one of his creatures in this world, but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it is what I have steadfastly believed.”
It was years ago the little booklet Bits and Pieces offered a great thought on happiness with “Happiness is not a matter of good fortune or worldly possessions. It is a mental attitude. It comes from appreciating what we have, instead of being miserable about what we don’t have. It is so simple – yet so hard for the human mind to comprehend.”
An exchange between Jed Clampett and Cousin Pearl from the old TV series The Beverly Hillbillies offers a powerful insight to the above concept. Listen:
Jed says “Pearly, what d’ya think? Think I oughta move? Cousin Pearl answers, “Jed, how can you even ask? Look around ya. You’re eight miles from yore nearest neighbor. Yore overrun with skunks, possums, coyotes, and bobcats. You use kerosene lamps fer light and you cook on a wood stove summer and winter. You’re drinking homemade moonshine and washing with homemade lye soap. And yore bathroom is fifty feet from the house and you ask, ‘should I move?’” Jed responded, “I reckon yore right. A man be a dang fool to leave all this!
We all want to be happy. And it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds t