Legendary Hollywood director, writer, and producer George Lucas, speaking to an audience of aspiring young people in 1989, passed on a life lesson he’d learned; the difference between two kinds of happiness.
Pleasure, he advised, is short-lived, with varying peaks and valleys. Although we might chase after it, we can never re-live a pleasurable experience again quite the same. “If you’re trying to sustain that peak level of pleasure,” he said, “you’re doomed.”
“On the other hand is joy, and joy doesn’t go as high as pleasure in terms of your emotional reaction, but,” Lucas reflected, “it stays with you.”
“Pleasure is purely self-centered. It’s all about your pleasure,” he posited, acknowledging that it can be positive, as well.
In contrast, he said,
“Joy is compassion. Joy is giving of yourself to somebody else, something else.” Lucas assured his listeners, “If you pursue joy, you will find everlasting happiness.”
Happiness From Sorrow?
When the grocery store aisles are void of colorful Easter decorations, and the candy dishes are bare, the world may move on to the next potential source of pleasurable experiences, but our Catholic Church continues to celebrate Easter.
On April 24 of this year, the Sunday of Divine Mercy, we celebrated God’s mercy. “Mercy” in Latin is misericordia; to have sorrow from the heart. Mercy is God’s heartfelt, compassionate response and gift to us.
But… how could sorrow ever result in happiness?
This strange reality was made visible by Jesus’ appearance to his followers after his resurrection; alive and greeting them with peace, yet still bearing the wounds of his painful crucifixion.
Jesus is the ultimate paradox, who baffles our limited minds and invites us to accept what we cannot fully comprehend: He is God become man. He is the master who invites us to be his friend. He is the crucified man who lives. Jesus’ sorrowful heart rejoices.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (John 15:11-12)
Will You Choose Joy?
What if we each chose to follow him…
- To love our enemies?
- To pray for those who persecute us?
- To find strength when we are weak?
- To discover joy, being generous with others from our hearts?
This Easter season, let’s finally allow our Lenten practices to distance our minds from the relentless pursuit of pleasure. When pleasures come and go, let’s give thanks, and continue our journey toward joy.
Joy doesn’t sell, but it does last forever. As Christians, may we choose to pursue joy.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.