Do You Avoid Enemies of Happiness?
IN THE desire for happiness, one can easily work against himself. One may think he is working for happiness, but by his course of action he may really be working out unhappiness. Hence the need to be awake to enemies of happiness that masquerade as pathfinders to happiness.
An insidious worker against happiness is the longing for things that other persons have. One may feel that happiness will come only by having that which someone else has, but the discontent this breeds stifles happiness.
What if someone spends his money in a certain way? Should he dictate how you should spend yours? Some persons may be able to afford certain material things without an extra burden on their time and energy; but it is provoking unhappiness to assume that because someone else can afford it we should be able to afford it.
Keeping us awake to the identity of enemies of happiness is God’s Book, the Holy Bible. Counseling us not to long overly much for material ways to happiness, the inspired Word says: “For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” (1 Tim. 6:7, 8) A similar thought is expressed at Hebrews 13:5: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For he has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’”
The Christian who is “content with the present things,” then, is not disturbed every time a neighbor or friend acquires a new possession; nor does he, like worldlings, make his main topic of daily conversation the things he would like to acquire. Men may talk constantly of a new automobile, a gadget or hobby equipment they would like to own. Women may talk incessantly about new clothing they would like to acquire. Such conversation is not conducive to happiness; it breeds discontent and puts the emphasis on material things, not the spiritual.
What is this pride of possession that so many persons think leads to happiness? It is worldliness. The inspired apostle John declares: “Everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:16, 17) So in the quest for happiness one may amass many possessions. He may look at them with his eyes and feel the pride of ownership; but such pride of ownership does not bring any real, lasting satisfaction. It could not be lasting, because this world is transitory; it is doomed by God’s Word to destruction. (2 Pet. 3:7) Since it is not going to last, why go in for its “showy display of one’s means of life”?
Moreover, longing for what others have may result in jealousy, envy and hatred—all enemies of happiness. When Cain became envious of his brother Abel because he had gained Jehovah’s favor, Cain did not gain happiness. His envy led to hate and finally to murder. When Ahab, king of Israel, grew envious over the vineyard of Naboth, it led to Naboth’s murder and ultimately to the death of Ahab, the one who thought his happiness would not be complete till he had Naboth’s property. Little wonder the inspired Word says: “Jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” And Christians are warned to avoid these enemies of happiness: “Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another.”—Prov. 14:30; Gal. 5:26; Gen. 4:2-8; 1 Ki. 21:1-24; 22:34-38.
Lack of self-control is another deadly enemy of happiness. By giving free reign to one’s appetite or desires, a person may feel he will gain greater happiness; but loss of self-control leads to gluttony, drunkenness, physical illnesses, misery and regret rather than happiness.
Warning us against this enemy of happiness, God’s Word states: “All his spirit is what a stupid one lets out, but he that is wise keeps it calm to the last.” (Prov. 29:11) The stupid person lets out “all his spirit.” This is not an expression of God’s spirit that leads to happiness, but, rather, the agitated spirit of the individual who, in his aroused condition, wants to give vent to his anger. Thinking he will get relief from all this pent-up energy within him, he lets it all out. What relief does he get? There may seem to be a momentary relief, but there is no alleviation of his spirit, for the lack of self-control results in damage, regret and the alienation of others. The one who works for happiness is the person who “keeps it calm to the last.” When provoked, he forces himself to keep calm. Then he works out the problem on a reasonable basis, not an insane basis, and so avoids an enemy of happiness.
Lack of self-control can also manifest itself in petty faultfinding, another enemy of happiness. A chronic nagger can be an individual of either sex and of almost any age. The nagger does not seek to inspire, imbue with confidence or allay fears but seeks to influence the victim upon threat of further harassment. A poet once said: “My wife is like a glass of good wine—with a drop of kerosene in it. No matter how fine its grapes, care, aging, and bouquet, the bitterness spoils the flavor.” His wife was a nagger. Lack of self-control, whether expressed by violent outbursts or petty complaining, is an enemy of happiness.
Avoid these enemies by making God’s Word the Guide in your life. Without this divine Guide no one can find true happiness. Set your affections on the spiritual things of God’s Word, the things that have eternal value, because “he that does the will of God remains forever.” Then we will remain forever with God in his eternal new world of enduring happiness.