I have a fairly decent handle on the difference between subjective and objective aspect of some things but I had not come up with a good way to explain it in laymen terms. In such a simple way my own children could get it. Then I ran across something from Peter Kreeft regarding happiness which gave me a good start to what you will read below.
Much of what we equate to present day happiness is subjective. Happiness is not really so much about the soul or something transcendent it usually is subjective to experiences. The perfection is found in the moment. Perhaps the simplest way to see if your happiness (your joy) is subjective is this list. Peter Kreeft list the 9 most profound influences on happiness from a western cultural point of view:
- Conquest of nature and fortune by science and technology (from unpacking DNA to obtaining the best smart phone to how many followers you have on Facebook.)
- Freedom from Pain (put some Robitussin on it.)
- Win (win, win, win, no matter what. Got #1 on my mind….)
- Honor (to be loved, to be accepts, to fit in, oh what a feeling.)
- Life (A long life, where you do not have to think about the fact the clock is ticking quickly. Your time is used how you want it to be.)
Subjective happiness is pretty clear. Think of the last time you were mad. Think of the last time someone irritated you. Think of what is stressing you now or what is going extremely well. Think about how you answer the question “How are you doing?” (Or how you do not answer.) Any of those probably messed with one or more of these traits on the list. Your happiness is subject to the fulfillment of the items on the list. (Sadly this is usually where our faith ends up also. i.e. If God is fulfulling my list, I will believe.)
Objective happiness is this: Would you still be happy if none of the items on the list we fulfilled? (Don’t go make another list either. That is cheating.) If you can say yes, your happiness is objective. Your joy is found in something that is a lifetime.
All of us should have some struggles with maintaining subjective. And the question is then how do I find happiness that ALWAYS supersedes my lists????
To be continued….