I’d like to share with you the secret to happiness. This is something that a lot of people would truly love to know. How can you live a happy & fulfilled life? Is it possible to move beyond mere existence to a life that’s lived on purpose? Could there be more to your life than what you’re currently experiencing? Is happiness really found in all the stuff you’re told makes you happy? If so, what’s the evidence that it does?
Let’s be honest, there is definitely a lack of happiness in the world today. You can see it in people’s eyes. Just recently as I was walking along a busy street, it really struck me how unhappy people appeared. There was a tangible sense of sadness, even anger in the air.
There is certainly plenty of evidence to suggest high levels of unhappiness. Let’s take one example – alcohol. According to government reports, levels of achohol consumption which are considered ‘dangerous’ are rising at an alarming rate – costing the NHS around £21 billion per year. The bottle has become a comfort to many unhappy hearts. But it’s a false comfort. Alcohol should only be an occasional acquaintance and never a close friend. When the latter happens, it’s always a sign of a deep unhappiness. If you ever hear yourself say that you ‘need’ it, it would be worth your while to pause & reflect. You don’t need it. You need God. You never ‘need’ alcohol. It cannot make you happy.
To be an unhappy westerner in the 21st century is pretty ironic given the great days in which we live. There has never been a better time to be alive. Ok, so life is not perfect and sure there are no shortage of challenges on the planet. Yes, the world can look dangerously uncertain at times – but when in history has it ever looked anything other than uncertain?
Yet in the grand scheme of things, these really are great days. Opportunity is abundant. Technological advancement is astonishing. Life expectancy is longer. The ability to stay connected all over the world through online technology is immense. We have access to advances which previous generations could only have dreamed of. All amazing. All sensational. All incredible. Wow! Yet…there remains a palpable sense of unhappiness in the world today. Strange isn’t it? So why is this? How could people possibly be unhappy? The answer to this question will help us understand the secret to happiness.
It seems that the more we gain, the more we want. The more we get, the more dissatisfied we become. The more dissatisfied we are, the more we push the boundaries of what’s right & wrong. The more we push those boundaries, the more dysfunctional society becomes. The price of dysfunctionality? Loneliness. In the end, we gain everything we want but far from it making us happier, it leaves a trail of misery & stress.
So what’s the secret to happiness today? Here it is. Are you ready? STOP trying so hard to be happy. The surest way to live an unhappy life is to live for yourself. The happiest, most fulfilled people are those who live for a cause that is bigger than themselves. This is the secret of happiness.
Jesus taught much about this. He once shocked a rich young businessman as he explained to him that the way to a fulfilled life was to ‘sell everything and follow me’. This wasn’t an anti-wealth jibe. This was pro-prosperity – the kind of success that really matters. This was about perspective. This was about eternity. This was about a cause that was far bigger than self. This was about his soul.
The paradox of true happiness is this: the less hard we try to be happy, the more happy we become. A fulfilled life is one which serves others.