You Can Find Real Happiness!
MANY people the world over seem to believe that the keys to happiness are a fancy car, a fat bank account, a prestigious career, a big house, and the latest electronic gadgets, along with an attractive figure or muscular physique. Yet, does happiness really depend upon such material and physical assets?
There has been “an explosion of research on happiness, optimism, positive emotions and healthy character traits,” says a special report in Time magazine. The results of such studies have been surprising to many. With remarkable consistency the evidence shows that people who are governed by the premise that money, fame, or beauty will make them happy are deceiving themselves. In fact, they are building their lives on a foundation that may be detrimental to their mental health and may even lead to their suffering depression.
In the United States, many people are richer than they have ever been. “But we are basically no happier for it,” says Time. Of course, the same could be said of people in other lands. China with its booming economy has also seen an alarming increase in unhappy people. There suicide has become “the leading cause of death in persons aged between 15 and 34 years,” says the quarterly Access Asia. One factor underlying this trend seems to be the pressure on young people to succeed in a tough and demanding secular environment.
Clearly, material progress does not diminish anxiety and stress; if anything, it heightens them. “Our very mode of life has now become our principal cause of emotional and mental instability,” concluded one university study. According to social-trends analyst Van Wishard, “mental and emotional health is the fastest growing component of health insurance for many companies.”
Even children are affected by our rapidly changing world. Books are now available for eight-year-old children that give them advice on “how to recognize the symptoms of stress and how to deal with it,” says Wishard. And according to a fact sheet on depression, diagnosed depression among children in a number of Western lands is increasing at an astounding 23 percent a year. Moreover, “pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants.”
Fear is also increasing—and not just because of economic uncertainties. With political and religious extremism on the rise, many people shudder at the horrors that tomorrow may bring. Is help available?
Some two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ taught a way of life that is refreshingly different and reduces stress. At the heart of his teaching was a simple but profound truth. “Happy,” he said, “are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) Yes, Jesus encouraged his listeners to focus on mankind’s greatest need—spiritual truth about our Creator and His purpose for us.
As we shall see in the following articles, that truth can help us to discern what is really important, leading to a happier and more meaningful life. Such spiritual truth also furnishes us with a bright hope.
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Does happiness depend on material possessions?