The Pursuit of Happiness

As we enter 2017 we will give and receive this greeting ‘Happy New Year’ many, many times as we meet people for the first time since Big Ben chimed midnight. Each year the mobile phone networks struggle to cope with the billions of messages that people send to their nearest and dearest. Happiness, it seems is something that people desire for themselves and for others.

Happiness however is notoriously elusive, and the more vigorously we chase after it the harder it can be to find. Some people get trapped in the illusion that the past was a better place and think longingly of times gone by. They are robbed of joy in the present because they continuously compare it unfavourably with the past. Others live hoping that they will be happy in the future when they leave school, get a career, get settled with a home and family, when the children are grown up and leave home, when they are retired and so on. Yet as each personal milestone is reached they look forward to the future and forget to enjoy the moment.

I recently heard someone compare the pursuit of happiness to trying to catch a butterfly. All the time the butterfly is in flight it darts hither and thither and is impossible to catch. However when it comes to rest on a flower, that is the moment when you can cup your hands around it. Happiness is found by catching it in the unexpected moments of the here and now. These are the occasions of spontaneous laughter and delight, often in little things, that can brighten up the most difficult of circumstances.

The apostle Paul knew something about this when he wrote: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Php 4:11–13 (NIV2011)

For Paul the secret of being happy did not depend upon his circumstances but upon being able to find Christ in every circumstance. Millions of people pray the Serenity Prayer, which is based on the Lord’s Prayer, but most have never read the last eight lines to the prayer: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”

That’s where true happiness lies! There is power when you surrender to God the very things you’ve been trying to take control of from him and trust Him alone for your happiness in this life and the next.

This blog post featured in the January 2017 edition of Hook Focus

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The Secret of Happiness

Are you happy? Not necessarily at this precise moment in time, but would you describe your life in general as happy? I have met many miserable people, but have yet to meet anyone who genuinely wants to be unhappy. Every day we make decisions, big and small, in the hope that the result will make us happy, whether we are conscious of this or not.

Given the significance of happiness in our lives you may be interested to learn that researchers from Harvard University have conducted a 75 year, longitudinal study into happiness. The research, known as the Grant and Glueck Studies, began in the late 1930’s with 268 Harvard students. A few years later 456 disadvantaged youths from inner city Boston were added to the study. These people have been interviewed at regular intervals throughout their lives to measure the happiness as their lives have unfolded.

The headline discovery has been that happiness does not depend upon wealth, social position, career progression or lack of it. Rather ‘happiness comes from choosing to be happy with whatever you do, strengthening your closest relationships and taking care of yourself physically, financially and emotionally.’ I am not sure where I read it first but the statement ‘happiness comes from wanting what you have rather than having what you want’ seems to sum up the first part of the study’s findings.

These findings are not as new and as ground breaking as they might seem at first.  Around AD 46 the Apostle Paul wrote ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.’ He had found that true happiness and contentment was not based upon his physical circumstances or health. If you read the rest of his writings you will discover that the ultimate source of Paul’s contentment was the security of knowing that his life was in Christ.

I wish that I could say that every follower of Christ was as happy and content as Paul was. Sadly many Christians are as miserable as anyone else. However I find that when people learn to fully put their trust in Jesus Christ they become happier than they would be without him.

If you would like to find out more then why not check it out for yourself and come and join us.

 

This blog post featured in the May 2016 edition of Hook Focus