Happiness and Righteousness Redefined

As a young man approaching middle age, I often ask myself what it is that human beings truly seek. Material wealth and comfort appear on the surface to shape the thoughts and dictate the actions of many, but scratch a little deeper and you will find that the common goal of man is happiness and self-realization.

Throughout my youth I travelled the globe to gain insight into dreams and desires of mankind, to discover other modes of thought that may lead more adequately to the goals of happiness and self-realization. The more I saw as I explored the four corners of the earth, the more I had to ask myself: “Could it be that the way we view the abundant delicacies made by the merchants of the earth keeps us from obtaining our deepest longing, that is, happiness?”

I remain to this day unconvinced that material possessions are in and of themselves bad or evil, for it is only their use that determines their relative worth. That said, I have encountered very few people who do not worship at the altar of material possessions in some way. My observation is that happiness to them is fleeting – there for a moment when a goal or some object is obtained – and gone shortly thereafter as the band plays “The Thrill is Gone” in the background.

It seems that those who are happiest are least attached to their material possessions, regardless of whether they have many or few. I have two sets of friends who live quite simply, who’ve deliberately devoted their lives to “enjoying the basics,” and I have to say they are the most genuinely happy people I know. I’ve known others who have accumulated great wealth and who were also genuinely happy, but I think that there is abundant evidence indicating that wealth and an abundance of material possessions is no guarantor of happiness.

No wonder it was said the the “love of money is the root of all evil” and not “money is the root of all evil‘ as people often mistakenly quote. Happiness is the natural by-product of righteous living. I must admit that I hesitated to use the word “righteous” as it has so many undesirable connotations and obfuscating religious overlays.

Righteousness is life lived with integrity, honor and respect. Righteousness needn’t imply sacrifice or weakness, in fact, a life lived righteously is a life of natural abundance and strength. Righteousness is revealed through your decisions and actions, not in how they are perceived, for righteousness is rarely the popular choice nowadays.

We live in a world where the assumption of personal responsibility is at an all-time low and where the expectation of being cared for is at an all-time high. While I don’t know if this trend is due to complacency born of the decades of growth and prosperity we’ve enjoyed or if it is evidence of a larger cycle working out in the evolution of humanity, I do know that the wisest constitution and the most elegantly constructed laws will prove impotent in their ability to secure the happiness of a people whose lives do not square to an underlying pattern of righteousness.

This is the greatest challenge we face, dear readers: finding ways to inspire righteousness in a world that has grown jaded to the very concept. It is incumbent upon our parents, teachers, business and political leaders to raise the standard of righteousness once again by leading by example.

If it means that you will be unpopular for a while, so be it. Your happiness and the happiness of generations to come depends upon the restoration of this basic principle of living.

13 thoughts on “Happiness and Righteousness Redefined

  1. Foxglove

    How quickly the lives of our predecessors are forgotten. If we just go back no more than 75 or 100 years the average life of an individual involved much more hard work and determination, and you can’t say that people are happier today because they work less (have more leisure time) or require less determination (quick generalizations here). More time for leisure has not equated to more happiness in general. If anything, there is more depression and sorrow. I think what you are saying is that what we need to value is the attitude which we bring to our life events. You describe that as ‘integrity’ or ‘righteousness.’ And if one meets one’s life with the right attitude then a harmony will exist, of which one aspect of that state of harmony can be described as ‘happiness’. Thank you for the opportunity for critical thinking here.


  2. Lydia

    “Righteousness is life lived with integrity, honor and respect.”
    Thank you for that clear and concise definition of righteousness. It may not make you popular, rich or famous but your life will show the evidence of a person that is creative. To me that is true happiness when your life is creative no matter what situations come your way.


  3. Colin

    I really like the way you describe righteousness, and I think that if you asked most people if they aspired to live their life in this way, they would say yes. As least I hope so. But the tricky part comes in the implementation. I think most people know the right thing to do, but a life of bad habit (and many times, self-sabotage), gets in the way. I feel it is truly a brave person who can do the right thing no matter what, but the opportunity is there for everyone. Righteousness is not something that can be taken away from you. It is either accepted or denied, every time a choice is made.


  4. Joshua

    If a change is to occur, the responsibility is most certainly with us to accept and prove out in our own living.
    So often it seems as though we are alone in our efforts, up against 6 billion, however…..
    Every dramatic change that has occurred has started with one. One who, against all odds, rose up and proved in living that something different was required.
    Thank-you for consistently providing the inspirational spark required to activate a deeper seeking in my life, It has certainly made a difference!

    Have a happy thanksgiving holiday!


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  6. Kolya

    Righteousness, associated with acting in accord with divine or moral law (according to the dictionary) has several interesting definitions, one being free from guilt or sin.

    I have found in my own life, that if I am weighed by shame or guilt, typically the main cause is a failure to act righteously. A great test at the end of the day, is to ask myself, “how did I do” (how did I act, speak, treat people, think, feel, care)? If I feel proud of my answer, then I know I was righteous. If there are gray areas or clearly times where I failed to live up to my highest expectations, then (since I can’t change the past), my next step is to be thankful for the next day.

    Each day is a chance to refine, improve, adjust and inspire with our own words and actions. Personal responsibility is just that – personal, and we each have to own it if we’re going to change humanity!


  7. James

    Hi Gregg,

    Thanks for getting to the core of the problem in such an eloquent way. It is clear that personal responsibility is key…but how do we engender that behavior shift and not let it sink into political “buzz-wordiness”?

    In my experience, the easiest and most congruent first step is encouraging the taking of responsibility for ones health, hence why your work at Energetix is so key. Keep up the great work!



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