The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right with which we are endowed by our Creator. That is a self-evident truth as stated in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. It’s as true today as it was in 1776.
As with any pursuit, it’s always helpful to know where you’re going. Without an aiming point, we tend to wander and fall prey to temptations we believe will make us happy. Those distractions only lead to disappointment and greater distance from that in which true happiness is found.
Since we are created in the image of Nature’s God, it’s worth exploring where and how He experienced happiness. As He was creating the world, God experienced happiness after He created something good. In the book of Genesis, scripture describes God as pausing six times. In each pause, He found satisfaction with His work. This is the first evidence of job satisfaction, and therefore, we can see that job satisfaction is a holy and godly emotion. We are wired to derive pleasure from our work just as God derived pleasure from His work.
Where was God’s happiness found? In creating something for the benefit of humankind. Just as God’s satisfaction was found in serving others, we too are happiest when we create something for the benefit of others. In other words, we are happiest when we are serving our “neighbors” with our work efforts. In this context, happiness is not something we chase after, but rather something that is caught when we pause to recognize God’s goodness in it. When we view our work this way, we operate in the Neighbor-Zone.
The opposite of the Neighbor-Zone is the Selfish-Zone. When someone is working in the Selfish-Zone, they are faithless, self-seeking, ungrateful, deny God’s goodness, and rob God of His glory by stealing it for their own self-interest. They become greedy, envyous, jealous, restless, and deeply unhappy. They are never satisfied in their pursuit of happiness.
When someone is working in the Neighbor-Zone, they are faithful, selfless, humble, grateful, and give God the credit. They become more and more generous, giving, peaceful, and satisfied as they serve others. When we’re operating in the Neighbor-Zone, our work and the pleasure from every job well done will take us deeper into fellowship with our Creator.
In the Neighbor-Zone, happiness is not something pursued but found.