Chaplain’s Corner: CXXIII

“Finding Happiness”


What do you hope to do before you die?  The movie, “The Bucket List” starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson was a movie that generated new and interesting answers to that question.  The movie highlighted what millions of people hope to fulfill in the time they have left before they “kick the bucket.”


If you Google “bucket list,” you’ll get almost 100 million hits.  Entire websites are devoted to providing before-the-end-of-your-life guidance.  Many people hope to travel.  They’d like to visit all 50 states or every country in the world.  Some are targeting trips to the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, or other spectacular human creations.


Others dream of experiencing wonders of nature.  They hope to peer over the edge of the Grand Canyon or watch Old Faithful erupt.  Perhaps they can visit all 63 of America’s national parks.  Bird watchers would like to catch sight of all 11,000 plus avian species on the planet.  Still others hope to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, scale Mt. Everest, or see the Northern Lights.


Some bucket listers yearn for things pretty much beyond their control.  Before they die they hope to experience true love, become a grandparent, win the next $2 billion Powerball jackpot, receive a Pulitzer Prize, or watch their favorite sports team win a championship.  In 2016 my bucket list was sure partially fulfilled when the Chicago Cubs won a World Series.  Now we Cub fans don’t know what to do with the rest of our lives.


What do all these bucket lists have in common?  They are ADDITIONS.


One of the assumptions of Western culture-and America in particular-is that happiness comes by doing more and getting more.  If we just accumulate enough money, or visit enough interesting places, or bring home enough trophies, we will finally win the Happiness Prize.  But there is no evidence this strategy actually works.


Happiness is not an achievement.  Enough is never enough.  Accomplishment-oriented people will always yearn for another cruise or that one stamp missing from the collection.  He who dies with the most toys…dies.


Instead of wondering how to add more, we can endeavor to be less busy, less hurried, and less overwhelmed by self-imposed obligations.  What if we committed an entire year just to getting better at living out a single verse of scripture?  That verse might be Psalm 46:10:  “Be still and know that I am God.”  Or perhaps Matthew 6:25:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you eat or drink, or about your body what you wear.”


In the process, we may discover that joy was always nearby.  It was just covered up by everything on our To Do List.


British author and theologian, C.S. Lewis once observed, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.”  Which means our buckets have always been full.  We just didn’t know it.



Ron Naylor, Chaplain