One of the reasons why a lot of humans like parrots is because we are so bright and cheerful! You could call us extraverted bundles of fun. Our presence helps a lot of humans to feel much happier than they might otherwise be.
Humans are probably the most complex of all living creatures and the downside to this is that they allow a great many things to get in the way of their happiness and contentment. Many will spend a large part of their lifetimes engaged on a quest to find a lasting sense of wellbeing. This has always been the case, even back in the days of Saint Augustine (sixth and seventh centuries):
“Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.” (Saint Augustine).
And he was right. Over the years, humans have sought happiness in all kinds of different ways. Back in 1968, a group of hairy Liverpudlians called the Beatles went to India to seek spiritual enlightenment which they believed would bring them inner contentment. They spent some time practising Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but this proved to be a passing fad.
Other humans have looked to drugs and alcohol, wealth and success, and love and relationships in their pursuit of happiness. Some have pipe dreams or imagine places such as ‘Xanadu’ where everything is wonderful. But do they really know what they are looking for? What brings real lasting happiness to somebody’s life? And do you really have to travel somewhere to find it?
Because of their complexity, humans are often all too aware when something important is missing from their lives, even when they can’t identify exactly what it is. It presents itself as a kind of restless dissatisfaction. They sometimes spend months, years or entire lifetimes looking, seeking, searching for an existence that will bring true happiness. But I wonder how many humans look to God for their inner contentment?
Jesus talked about happiness and contentment during His Sermon on the Mount. The crowd around him would certainly have been full of malcontents. They lived under Roman occupiers. Many were poor. Some were marginalised by society. And Jesus wanted them to know from the very beginning that God loved them:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mournfor they will be comforted…
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:3-4 and 8).
The happiness that Jesus refers to is of Divine origin so cannot be bought, produced or packaged. It is an inner state that comes from God’s presence. Jesus gave hope to people who had very little to cheer about in their lives. The very people that were often hurting, struggling, suffering, hungry, destitute, marginalised or forgotten. Jesus tells them all that they are still blessed and that they can still live out their lives with happiness in their hearts despite their pain and suffering. Because if we allow the presence of God and Jesus to come inside us, they can help to ‘rewrite’ our personal story and guarantee a ‘happy ending.’ So that the joy of what lies ahead brings peace, contentment and acceptance to what may be a turbulent present. This is true happiness. This is what all humanity is searching for. This is what’s needed to fill the gaping hole in so many lives. The only lasting happiness comes from God.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything … and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).