Tag Archives: Virtues

What does “the pursuit of happiness” really mean?

From Muddling Towards Maturity. He quotes Chuck Colson on the pursuit of happiness.


Our founding fathers understood the pursuit of happiness to mean the pursuit of a virtuous life. This concept of happiness comes from the Greek word eudaimonia—which refers to a life well-lived, a life rooted in truth. That is what happiness means, and that is what every man and woman has an inalienable right to pursue—a virtuous life.

And as I wrote in my book The Good Life, this is the definition of happiness that we need to reclaim in American life—especially within the Church. After all, a Barna survey revealed that more than half of evangelicals agreed with the statement: “The purpose of life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment.”

Come on. If the last 50 years have taught us anything, it’s that consumerism and hedonism (the pursuit of unbridled pleasure) do not lead to happiness, but instead to personal and societal misery.

[…]The goal is not pleasure; it is righteous living, decency, honor, doing good—in short, living a virtuous life.

I’ve heard J. P. Moreland write about this, too, in his book “Love Your God With All Your Mind”. (And again in “Kingdom Triangle”)

J.P. says in chapter 1 of LYGWYM that freedom is “the power to do what one ought to do”. he right to the pursuit of happiness means that no individual or government has the power to prevent you from living the virtuous life that God intended for you. That is why I come down so hard on the secular left. When they force Christians to deny their faith and act like atheists in public, (e.g. – to perform abortions or lose their jobs), then the government is thwarting the pursuit of happiness, rightly understood.