[forthright] Why We're Happy

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2008 10:59:23 -0700 (PDT)
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COLUMN: GUEST WRITERS

Why We're Happy
 by Scott McCown

Happiness has less to do with what we have or accomplish and 
more to do with what we value. In the July 2008, Reader's 
Digest, Arthur Brooks' article "Why We're Happy" explains:

"I had always thought that marching to the 
beat of my own drummer and making my own 
values as I went along were the right things 
to do, and that traditional values, to put 
it bluntly, were for the gullible. Turns out 
I was in for some surprises."/1

Mr. Brooks reviewed the results of hundreds of surveys where 
thousands of people discussed what they felt made them happy. 
Here are the happiness predictors he says we can learn from 
in these surveys:

Happiness Predictor 1: Faith

Faith is a common value connecting happy those surveyed. 
Almost 85% of respondents identify with some type of 
religious group and those who attend worship regularly  
were happier than those who rarely or never attend 
worship.

Happiness Predictor 2: Work

Most Americans indicated that even if they were to suddenly 
become wealthy, they would continue to work. Why? Most  
people really do like their jobs. Almost 95% of people who 
were happy in their lives were also happy in their jobs. 
While this certainly is not true for every person, working 
does seem to bring about some satisfaction in people's lives.

Happiness Predictor 3: Marriage and Family

Almost half of married adults report that they are very happy 
compared with less than one fourth of never married adults. 
Evidently family is as characteristic of a lifestyle of 
happiness that includes religion and marriage.

Happiness Predictor 4: Charity

According to the article, "People who give money to charity 
are 43% more likely than non-givers to say they're very happy. 
Volunteers are 42% more likely to be very happy than 
non-volunteers."

Happiness Predictor 5: Freedom

This is a more complicated characteristic. While economic, 
political, and religious freedoms bring people much happiness, 
having no constraints on moral freedoms does not. The article 
states that, "People who feel they have unlimited moral choices 
in their lives when it comes to matters of sex or drugs, for 
example, tend to be unhappier than those who do not feel they 
have so many choices in life." /2

The article concludes by reminding us that values, not things, 
matter most.

Is this not what God has revealed to us through His word? Faith 
in God, service to Him, and fellowship with the saints will 
bring happiness. Being productive in our work and home life will 
bring joy. Giving to others and doing for others will bring joy 
to our hearts. Having freedom with the guidelines God has set 
for us brings happiness.

As a matter of reference, the Preacher, the son of David, spent 
years trying different things that purported to bring happiness. 
He begins by saying, "Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, 
vanity of vanities! All is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2, ESV).

He concludes ten chapters later saying, "The end of the matter; 
all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this 
is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We would do well 
to read what God revealed about happiness long, long ago. It’s 
truths have never changed.

1/ Arthur C. Brooks, "Why We're Happy." Reader's Digest. 
July 2008. p. 164.
2/ ibid. p. 168.

---
Scott McCown
Minister Parrish Church of Christ, Parrish, Alabama.

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