The Pursuit of Happiness

In a recent TV discussion the question was raised, why aren't Americans the happiest people in the world? It seems the host had heard that a greater percentage of people in Scandinavia admitted to being happy than did Americans.

While I readily confess to not being a social scientist or a statistical researcher, I can explain why some Americans are unhappy.

· Our media and aspiring liberal politicians are constantly telling us how bad things are in America. They do this to make us unhappy with the present administration and thus inclined to return them to power. Good things are ignored, downplayed or denied and many believe them.

· Our news sources love to dwell on that which is morbid and depressing. Violence and death, crime and disasters get first attention in the daily news. The unthinking soul eventually gets to thinking that is all there is in our society.

· In the realm of entertainment, it is rare to find anything that edifies the mind and spirit of man. That which could inspire us to greatness and nobility, that could generate sympathy and altruism , is a scarce commodity. People go to be entertained and go home depressed, confused or angered.

· Merchandisers and advertisers have mastered the art of creating a burning appetite for expensive and often useless things we cannot afford. Mind-numbed citizens, mesmerized by their subtle presentations, spend far beyond their means and eventually find themselves drowning in debt. That is a sure recipe for unhappiness.

· Social engineers, liberal academics and the entertainment industry have convinced Americans that hedonism is the way to happiness. Of course this is a lie. Perhaps the most disastrous facet of this lie is that commitment to a lasting marriage robs one of freedom and pleasure. Hence we see a society of pleasure seekers using others for a moment of selfish enjoyment and then casting them off. Broken hearts, broken marriages and children raised in broken homes all make for unhappiness. In the end, the playboy or playgirl often finds themselves cast aside as too old or jaded. Then they too learn about unhappiness.

· With the youth rebellion of the 60s came the drug culture. Today millions of lives are wasted by drugs and alcohol. What began as a search for a thrill is now a living hell.

· Many, hoping they can postpone aging and death, try desperately to cling to their youth. It is a losing battle.

· Following WW II Americans were caught up in a tide of prosperity that mastered many of them just as cocaine does it victims. They fell into the ancient error of thinking that the accumulation of wealth, property and things that money can buy would make them happy. They forgot the ancient truth that man cannot live by bread alone (Matt. 4:4). They grew fat and prosperous but inside their souls were famished and withered. They needed something more but had forgotten where to find it. Nothing is more pitiful than the millionaire who has no one to love him and no meaningful purpose in his life.

On the other hand the case can be made that Christians are happy even in the midst of this misery described above.

· They have a good conscience since their sins, guilt and shame have been forgiven (I John 1:12)..

· They have a good life. They recognize and avoid the pitfalls mentioned above and live modest, sober and productive lives. Their lives are meaningful, balanced and peaceful (John10:10)..

· They have a reason for living. They are part of a great movement that benefits humanity and makes the world a better place in which to live (Matt. 22:39). They find joy in helping others.

· They know the value of marriage and family and find real happiness therein (Eph. 5:28-33).

· They are confident of their future. They know that this life is not the all in all. They are preparing for eternity. They believe that a happy, wonderful destiny awaits them in heaven (John 14:1-3). This enables them to cope with disappointments and illness, aging and death.

While mindless robots keeping asking, "Why am I unhappy?" Christians say to their neighbors, "Come try Christ's way, you will be glad you did" (Matt. 11:28).


John Waddey

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