Happiness, what is it?
If you look at the fashion world or Hollywood, watch most movies and TV shows it would appear the key to happiness is a combination of money, success, popularity, love and fame. Why has this developed this way? You could argue a number of reasons but it’s certainly been around for a long time as you can see examples throughout the old testament. Job is a big example (after Satan was through with him anyway). David seemed to enjoy many periods of happiness as well. I think Psalm I speaks to this in a big way. The first word of this Psalm is Blessed, and it tells most of the story. The one who is blessed is in the favor of the Lord, and when you are in the favor of the Lord He shines down on you with success, & money & fame & popularity (at least in the old testament it seems).
Psalm 1: Blessed is he who walks not in the way of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seats of the scoffers …… but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.
When we read this we automatically assume, and rightfully so in the old testament, that the person blessed by God is experiencing happiness. They have money, success, popularity & fame in return for meditating on God’s Law & do not follow the wicked or sinner or scoffers. How does this translate to today? We see someone w/ money, fame, success and who seem to be wildly popular, throw in good looks and everyone equates this to the ultimate happiness. Is that the answer? According to Angelina Jolie and a number of others who seem to epitomize the definition of happiness, it doesn’t seem to cover everything. As she said, “I’ve got everything people say will give me happiness but I’m not really happy”. That seems silly, why is there anything to worry about? Well as it turns o,ut she’s not the only one to say that, many celebrities have said similar things, so there must be some other ingredients to this. I think Psalm 1 tells us a number of things. From a secular point of view I can see at least three other actions which will contribute greatly to happiness irrespective of the money, success, fame, good looks and popularity. If you surround yourself w/ the wicked you’re not likely to change them, you’re more likely to become like them. I think most likely we won’t surround ourselves by wicked people, at least not knowingly. I think most people will take the easy way or rather the “fun” way, we’ll be tempted to surround ourselves w/ the sinners because they seem to have the most fun or we’ll default to the scoffers because it’s easier being a doubting Thomas and be able to say “I told you so”. If you’re wrong what’s the loss you can just move on. So if you remove the scoffers and take a positive approach then you’ve got a head start on happiness. Since we are all sinners it’s impossible to not associate w/ sinners but if we’re looking at this from the secular point of view then you’re going to avoid the folks who can’t seem to tell the truth, avoid those who get angry at the drop of a hat, who can’t help but talk about someone who isn’t present or who seem to need to put others down in order to build themselves up. When you stop and think about it this all makes perfect sense wherever you are on life’s path, rich or poor. Another major thing I can think of would be envy, for myself when that envy begins to creep into my life it seems as if there is a shadow that comes over everything to reduce the light. I recognize its approach but it seems like I’m powerless to do anything about it. I see the latest Mercedes driving right in front of me on the road and I think wow I wonder what that guy or gal does that gives him so much expendable cash that he can afford something like that, I sure wish I could afford one of those. Sometimes it’s really hard to get past that, but I know when I do I see the sun shining again, the birds singing and colours galore all around. Everyone has their own version of what represents happiness in their life but I’d be willing to bet having a stress free life is a key part of it.
I’ve found a simpler way to deal with this, especially since I don’t tend to go through a checklist of items for each new situation I find myself in, and I’m a much happier person than ever in my past. It’s been a journey, which at times seemed to be moving at glacial speed but by working continually to put Christ at the center of my life I’ve found that I seem to gravitate away from all the characteristics described above. In any case I’ve realized that I have much less drama and stress in my life, it’s easier to laugh at disappointments that crop up every now and then and I see opportunities where I used to see obstacles. Psalm 1 reminds us of this when the Psalmist says to meditate on God’s law day and night. Since Christ came you can substitute God’s word for God’s law and understand this in today’s terms.
Look at all your surrounding relationships and begin backing away from those who don’t fit the ideas of psalm 1