What is Happiness? — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

What is Happiness? — Morning Devotions

Most people agree that money can't buy happiness, and yet deep down many of us seem to think that we would be happy if we just got over this next hill...

By Chris WittsMonday 6 Feb 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Happiness is a topic that interests everyone. You can read books on the theme of happiness in bookstores. Have a look on the Internet. Find thousands, if not millions, of articles about happiness. A couple of years ago, the psychology today magazine asked a question of 52,000 people. This was the question. What is happiness and how do you attain it?

Well, some people weren’t sure of the answer. One man said, “Well, I don’t know. I filled out the questionnaire. I think I’m happy. Can you please verify.” And other people talked about the things that they need to make them happy, like being in love or being good looking or personal growth or having lots of friends?

But many people have this idea of what you call the “when and then” understanding of happiness. What do I mean by that is “when I finish my education, then finally, I’ll be happy when I get a good job. Then I’ll be happy when I make some money and get out of debt – Then I’ll be happy or when I fall in love and get married. I’ll be happy. And when we have Children, I’ll be happy or when my Children grow up, then I’ll be happy.” They’re the sort of responses that you might expect.

But in the survey, money was mentioned quite a lot. A lot of people know that money can’t buy happiness, but they believe that they really have to have a lot of money in order to have the things or go to the places that will make them happy. But of course, that’s not really the way life is. You can drive a $60,000 automobile and live in a million-dollar house and still be miserable. You can spend two hours at the Sydney Opera House, for example, and have a great time at a concert, walk out the doors into the cold night air and just feel this sudden sense of aloneness and emptiness.

You can look at a gorgeous view, perhaps the blue Mountains, and yet still be full of sadness. You can have the perfect home in the nicest clothes, the best kids, and still not feel satisfied or fulfilled. But it’s amazing, on the other hand, you can be quite poor, materially and still be very happy. So many things that occur in everyday circumstances bring unhappiness.

But I think we also know there are many things about life that we can’t live without.

The only problem, of course, is that we can never get enough of things like power and prestige. Some people want to be recognised and applauded and loved, and there’s that idea that we have to have things. But of course, even if you get them, they’re not going to guarantee true happiness or contentment. So I’m talking about the desire for happiness. It was Plato who said, at the end of the day, that is, all of human beings want to be happy in body and soul. And Aristotle back in the fourth century BC said happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

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But did you know that Jesus gave happiness another name? In fact, I’m looking at the Bible. He called it abundant life rather than happiness. And he said, in John 10:10 from the New Testament, “I have come to give you life and life abundant.”

The Eugene Peterson version of the message says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” – Well, that sounds pretty good, too, doesn’t it?

So what would make you happiest in your life?

I want to suggest that in fact, there’s really only one thing that you can do in order to get the greatest happiness in your own life. And it’s this totally surrender everything to God all the time, every day. Always give it to him. And I want to suggest that this is the surest way to happiness, the total surrender of everything in your life to God, no matter what it is, as much as you can hand it over to him now, I know it’s easier said than done, but we should try to do it.

And Jesus began what’s known as the Greatest sermon, The Sermon on the Mount by saying that happiness depends not on those circumstances I talked about, but on the attitude. It’s not what’s happening around me, but what’s happening inside me that makes me happy. And Jesus knew that we are confused about that. And so in the sermon on the Mount you can read. He grabs our attention and he uses that word happy or blessed, actually eight times.

So he did the right thing in getting us to understand what happiness is. It really comes from within. It’s not external. It comes from joy and contentment found in God. Well, it’s not reserved for something later on, you can have it now.

Let’s Pray

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that we can be happy in the true sense of the word as we trust you and surrender all to you. We thank you for that. In the name of Jesus, our Saviour, amen.