Happiness Is…

Posted on November 21, 2015


I’m an avid Peanuts and Snoopy fan. Both Charlie Brown and Snoopy were ultimately after happiness. Snoopy found it more often than Charlie Brown because Snoopy—he’s the dog, remember—did not rationalize and try to analyze everything like Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown was, in fact, the classic worrier who projected all his angsts and worries into everything he did, or thought about doing, especially getting to know the little red headed girl.

Everything was problematic and the result was a life of small disasters which usually confirmed what he worried about.

In Christian doctrine, worry is one of the minor sins, since Christians put their trust in God and the expectation, as expressed very clearly in Scripture, is that God will take care of you.

In fact, “In God We Trust” is our national motto.

But Charlie Brown worried about everything. Happiness was on the other side of worry, but he only occasionally seemed to be able to get past that curtain of worry.

Snoopy, on the other hand, was an activist who plunged right into the gist of the matter, enjoying the moment, come hell or high water. He was an avid World War I aviator, flying his Sopwith Camel into the skies over the gray battlefields of northern France, engaging the Red Baron, and occasionally taking some fire which usually smoked his doghouse.

We are all either Snoopys or Charlie Browns, or fall someplace in between. We want happiness, but, like CB, make such a huge fuss over the circumstances and barriers that we end up listening to advice from Lucy at five cents an hour.

Most unsympathetic, Lucy quickly dismisses all of CB’s problems and gives him practical advice, which usually can be summarized, “oh, get over it Charlie Brown and get on with life!”

In golf, we call CB’s thinking as “paralysis by analysis,” especially when it comes to figuring out a long put. By the time we have the distance and breaks figured out, practiced our stroke several times, and thought about it intently, we usually choke and miss the put by a mile. Better to do it the Snoopy way, step up to the sucker and stroke it to the hole after a quick look see.

Life is all about this search for happiness. Christians are reluctant to use the word “happy,” since Christian “joy,” which in fact is promised in Scripture, doesn’t always get expressed as a “happy” moment, with smiles and successes.

So, why this search? It is part of the human condition to wish to be happy. The search can unfortunately lead us into dead, most unhappy, corners.

Let’s say we want to win the Lotto and be happy. In fact, big time Lotto winners are miserable, all that money brings a new set of worries. Charlie Brown would have been an awful Lotto winner.

But happiness is not just money.

It is crossing the line first on a track or on a road race, walking off the tennis court a champion, thumping chests on a football field, sinking the put on the eighteenth hole for a birdie on the golf course.

It is being lifted up into a physical and spiritual buoyancy, into a sublime moment, no matter how transitory, by the love of someone or by your love for them. It can be momentary, or for a lifetime, when the spirit of gentleness, compassion and love all intertwine between you and the one you love.

It is a song, a tune that transports you back in time, or just feels good when you hear or dance to it. I hear a salsa and the Caribbean islands play with my mood.

It can be, and I saved the best for last, having God embrace you and put you under his complete care once you accept Jesus Christ into your life. For all you non-believers, or believers in a different faith tradition, I respect you and recognize your right to your beliefs in a country that confirmed those liberties in our founding documents.

But for my fellow Christians, let me urge you to be more like Snoopy than Charlie Brown. Snoopy knew he was taken care of by his masters, he would be fed regularly—although sometimes delayed—his home was secure, he was loved, and all would always be ok, if not perfect. Snoopy trusted in the goodness and security of his master, and we too can turn to our Master and be secure in that knowledge.

We may get winged occasionally by the Red Baron, and fall out of the sky in smoke. But we’ll crash land just fine, like Snoopy, to live another day, a glass of wine in the bistro in Paris to lift our spirits, and restore our desire to head on out again to take on the uglies and triumph in our endeavors.

Published as Want to be Happy, Be Like Snoopy in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday November 15, 2015