“Don’t you realize elections have consequences?”
“If ____ doesn’t win, I’m leaving the country!”
“If you vote for _____, as far as I’m concerned, our friendship is over.”
Social media is littered with people’s election declarations. If you haven’t seen at least one of these phrases on your social feeds yet…you’re either not from the United States, or apparently I need you to teach me your secrets. Everyone’s taking sides, and even worse, the sides are deeply polarized.
No one’s denying it: presidential elections are important.
But we’ve become obsessed. We’re glued to the news cycle and the polling numbers. The hype is way up. In almost every conversation, the discussion turns at some point to the upcoming election. In the final stretch of the campaigns, with early voting already taking place, it feels like life revolves around November 3.
But here’s the thing. No matter who wins the election, you will not be truly happy. No matter who wins, the country will still have to confront serious issues that are beyond the ability of any one politician to solve.
Everyone holds their politics personally and passionately. And we should most definitely all vote.
But election results don’t make anyone happy.
Maybe you’re saying,
What if ____ wins? We’ll be dancing in the streets!
Or maybe some of you are saying,
I already know _____ won’t win, and it’s really bumming me out.
OK sure, if your preferred candidate wins, you’ll experience momentary euphoria. But the reality is, happiness is never the byproduct of any external events like who wins elections.
Happiness is an inside job. Happiness is something that exists inside of you. It’s a disposition of the heart. Happiness is a state of being.
And happiness is possible for all of us …no matter who wins the election.
True happiness is not something that external circumstances or victories can touch. Seeking happiness from our external environment is real, and it’s like a treadmill. It never stops! We are constantly finding things that promise satisfaction — and don’t deliver.
Many of us have and do and achieve those “things,” only to find that happiness continues to be elusive. It slips through our grasp and then we’re onto the next fool’s errand, never thinking that maybe happiness is not something we can achieve by external means. That’s why recent polls show only 14% of U.S. adults say they’re very happy.
The thing is, the longing for happiness is a good thing. The alternative to being happy is being unhappy. And I think we can all agree that wanting unhappiness is not good for anyone. Happiness is one of the deepest cravings of every human heart.
This is part of why I love the teachings of Jesus. Most people don’t realize Jesus spoke a lot about happiness. In one of his most famous teachings, The Beatitudes, Jesus speaks about the blessed person. Some modern translations rightly express the word blessed as, “Oh, how happy!”
But then when you read the list of characteristics attributed to the happy person, you realize that Jesus’ plan for happiness is unexpected. His plan for human happiness is surprising, even counterintuitive. You might call his version of happiness “Crazy Happy.”
His way to be Crazy Happy exists no matter what our circumstances are. In fact, happiness is never something that can be attained by changing our circumstances. Happiness is discovered in the midst of all the unexpected, crazy happenings of life.
If you were not happy before this election, no matter who wins, you will still be unhappy after the emotions of the election subside.
This election will have absolutely no lasting impact on your happiness.
But there is hope.
Because when you realize that happiness is not found in the outcome of the presidential election, you can put the election back in its rightful place, and pursue the things that really matter. As a country, individuals are privileged to vote. And no matter who wins, life goes on. Yes, elections certainly have consequences. But not eternal consequences.
When all that angst and mental energy is set aside, we can devote our lives to what we’re all really looking for anyway: discovering the truly beautiful life of happiness waiting for us.