The Secret of Happiness - Part I
"Then he [Jesus] said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'"1
The search for happiness is as old as mankind. Hedonism, an ancient Greek philosophy, stated that the chief end of man was happiness. Democritus, who lived in 460 BC, said, "Happiness is the object of our conduct." And Aristipus, a pupil of Socrates, put it this way. "The most intense pleasure is the highest good and is the aim of life."
People today still long for happiness, but in spite of our greatly increased knowledge and achievements so many people still haven't learned its secret.
On the University campus the highest death rate is caused by suicide. Hospital beds are filled with unhappy and lonely people. Some doctors estimate that over 80% of patients are suffering as a result of emotional distress. A world-famous psychiatrist claims that "the central neurosis of our time is emptiness." And according to the United Nations World Health Organization, depression is the world's number one health problem.
Marilyn Monroe had everything that many seem to think brings happiness—beauty, wealth, fame, and popularity—but she ended her life in suicide. I have read that actor Mel Gibson also had everything the world had to offer but he never felt happy or fulfilled. This is one reason he produced and paid to make the film, The Passion of the Christ.
It is claimed that Voltaire, who was famous for his infidelity, said on his deathbed, "I am lost! Oh, that I had never been born." And millionaire Jay Gould said when dying, "I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth."
Actually, wealth, fame, power, or beauty don't make one happy or unhappy. They are externals. Happiness comes from within. It is a by-product of an inner condition. If one lives only for personal happiness, he will probably never find it. As one person said, "The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness."
In their mind happiness is many things to many people. It depends on one's particular needs, abilities, interests, and maturity. Happiness for one man is to be an accountant, for another a farmer. Happiness for one woman is not to have any more children, for another to have several more. The reality is, however, that none of these in and of itself can make anyone happy.
For me, happiness begins with being honest with myself and learning to understand and accept myself for who and what I really am. This way I can utilize my strengths and work towards overcoming my weaknesses.
To be continued. . . .
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to realize that happiness is not an end in and of itself, but rather a process of living in harmony with your will, in harmony with myself, and in harmony with others—and in having a purpose higher than myself for which to live. Help me to achieve these goals and therein reap the reward of happiness that comes to all who so live, Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Luke 12:15 (NIV).