Do You Know What Makes You Happy?
By Leslie Vernick
When I was vacationing in Italy I couldn’t help but notice Pinocchio. He was everywhere, in every shop, in every window. There were big ones small ones, hand carved ones and ceramic ones.
Pinocchio is a wooden marionette. He was created by a fictional character, Geppetto – an Italian woodcarver. As the story goes, Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy. He believed that he would be happy if he were free to live his life for pleasure.
To Pinocchio the good life meant eating, sleeping, and playing when he wanted, without anyone telling him what to do. Pinocchio hated school and he was allergic to work. Along the way people tried to help Pinocchio grow up, but he refused to listen to their advice and was easily fooled with promises of fun and fortune.
Many painful lessons later, Pinocchio finally began to grasp the idea that to find any real happiness he would need to focus on something besides having a good time. Pinocchio started to work hard on his school lessons and tried to be less self-centered and selfish.
But one night, Pinocchio’s friend, Lamp-wick, enticed him to run away to the Land of Toys. Lamp-wick boasted, “I’m going to a real country…the best in the world…it’s a wonderful place!”
Initially Pinocchio refused, but Lamp-wick coaxed him by telling Pinocchio, “You’ll be sorry!”
Pinocchio struggled. Should he choose to stay on what looked like the right path of virtue and purpose, or should he forsake all that and take the easy path straight to the Land of Toys?
Pinocchio considered his choices. A place where there was no school, no teachers, or books. A place where no one studies or works and everyday is like vacation. Sounds wonderful, too good to pass up.
Pinocchio’s promise to work hard vanished and he agreed to run away with Lamp-wick. “This is the place for me!” Pinocchio said. “How happy we should all be.” And for a while, that’s exactly what it seemed. But several months later, Pinocchio woke up and peered into a basin of water. Pinocchio saw his ears and nose were changing. He was becoming a donkey, just like the one he rode on when the wooden cart brought all the boys to The Land of Toys.
Pinocchio felt scared. He realized that living for himself and pleasure was a lie. It didn’t make him happy. It enslaved him.
As a Christian counselor and coach, I have worked with hundreds of people who, like Pinocchio, want to be happy.
Just as Lamp-wick enticed Pinocchio by assuring him that he would find his heart’s fulfillment in the Land of Toys, the world promises us that happiness is found when we get more for ourselves – more stuff, more pleasure, more money, more success, or more appreciation and accolades.
We’re bombarded with slogans that promise self-esteem and significance when we get whiter teeth, a Platinum Master Card, a hot body or a luxury car.
But does getting more ever bring anyone lasting happiness or satisfaction? That is what Satan would like you to believe.
Pinocchio learned the hard way – after turning into a donkey – that the Land of Toys was not what was promised. It almost destroyed him. More is never enough. It cannot satisfy our desire for more.
And, what feels good to our flesh often turns out to be poison to our soul and spirit.
The Bible says “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” Proverbs 14:12.
You and I don't always know what’s good for us but God does. He does want you to have a life well-lived. Can you trust him today and follow his path for life (Proverbs 3:5,6)?