60 minutes -- True Happiness

The other day I saw an episode of 60 Minutes about the "Happiest Place on Earth," which turned out to be Denmark. They interviewed some young Danish students who described government-managed, virtually worry-free lifestyles. All this to say, I would still rather live in the U.S. (still the land of opportunity) but still, I couldn't help thinking about what is and isn't true happiness.

The Danish students observed that possessions are a big deal in the U.S., which is no news flash. It is true that we Americans tend to measure our success according to the material goods we accumulate. 60 Minutes contrasted this with the fact that rich people tend to have a lower "Happiness Index" (or whatever they call it) than those who are content to have "enough." This also isn't news to most people... most everyone will confirm that money can't buy happiness.

But, as of late, I haven't been so sure about this. I have been less and less sure about whether the statement, "Money can't buy happiness," is true or not. After all, I think to myself, how happy can I be while I'm trapped by my ailing finances?

Lately the phrase "financial freedom" has been sounding sweeter than ever. Lately it's been hard for me to imagine freedom apart from financial well-being.

It's not surprising that my faith has been mutating slowly over the past few years to the point that I now want more worldly "hook-ups" from God. I want a tangible raise for my troubles. I want worldly favor in addition to the otherworldly treasure He has already given me (joy, contentment, a clear conscience, purpose, a healthy outlook on relationships, etc).

My quest to obtain money has led me to yearn for money as an end in itself. But money, by itself, is neither desirable nor satisfying.

As my desire for money has developed, I have drawn nearer to losing the things in my life that are truly desirable. The more I dedicate my heart and mind to the pursuit of money the more perverted my mind and heart become.

Then a song by Skillet called "Comatose" jogged my memory:

I don't wanna live
I don't wanna breathe
'les I feel you next to me
you take the pain I feel
waking up to you never felt so real
I don't wanna sleep
I don't wanna dream
'cause my dreams don't comfort me
The way you make me feel
Waking up to you never felt so real

I hate living without you
Dead wrong to ever doubt you
But my demons lay in waiting
Tempting me away
Oh how I adore you
Oh how I thirst for you
Oh how I need you

So what do I truly desire? God! I desire God.

Sure, I desire other good things such as friendships and measurable success in my life-endeavors, but what I long for first of all I to know Jesus Christ.

As soon as I pull my head out and draw near to Christ, then I will be full. My soul thirsts for God's Presence... I can't deny it. As long as I know Jesus Christ, I might possess no wealth at all yet I would have everything.

Doesn't it make sense that we should be built to desire God? Isn't this clear just by observing human behavior?

"I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
--Jesus to a mixture of disciples and the Pharisees

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.

--Psalm 42:1


Sarah said...

I have no idea why "money cannot buy happiness" as it is true when I am trapped in a financial crisis I don't find myself smiling at all. So, I guess it is very important to maintain financial freedom first before we can make a statement like that. Or else, we can say "money cannot buy happiness but can help us to be happier". Just an opinion.

FragileKitty said...

I wonder if the young Danish students' happiness rating isn't influenced by the special brownies they eat over there. :)

Here's my two cents:

If I feel anxiety right now over money-issues, will the removal of that anxiety really make me Free and Happy? Is the (continued) anxiety truly being caused by the money-situation, or is it something I'm unnecessarily adding to the moment? It's natural to react with concern over money issues, but that concern should lead to intelligent action, not prolonged, needless worry and a grand plan to dedicate my life to money in and of itself.

So while money may be a practical matter for me to deal with, that's all it is. Money can't buy Happiness, because Happiness transcends money. That is, Happiness is not defined or limited by how much money I have.

Even when I'm struggling to make ends meet, even when I don't see how to stay financially afloat, even when life is kicking me with a financial, relationship or health issue, I can still open my heart and Love. What greater Happiness and Freedom is there than Love?