What Is the Secret of Happiness?
TO BE happy, you must be rich, beautiful and popular. You might think so, if advertisements, films and novels are to be believed.
But, in the long run, do money and great possessions result in real and lasting happiness? Are youth and physical beauty essential for you to be happy? Playful children often seem happy. But what really is the secret of happiness?
Can God Promote Our Happiness?
You may be told that happiness really depends on having a good relationship with God. Yet many people find it difficult to believe in a Supreme Being. They do not see him, do not know him and think that they must merely accept his existence. So they cannot see how God could promote their happiness.
True, because “God is a Spirit” we cannot see him with our eyes. (John 4:24) Yet, is there not much that is invisible although we accept its existence? We enjoy friendship but do not see what we and our friends really feel. We think, but has anyone ever seen thoughts? We are alive, but can we see the life-force?
Everything on earth that is still unspoiled by man bespeaks order, beauty and efficiency. So there must be someone who has carefully considered and designed things, someone with great feeling for form and beauty—yes, someone who knows what will make us happy. A writer of ancient times made the striking observation that the invisible qualities of God are perceived by the things He has made. Does not a beautiful painting or carving reveal much about the artist responsible for it? Well, the same is true with God. It is possible to “see” him in creation and in everything he does for us.—Romans 1:20.
What Does God Do for Us?
God can help us to be happy, even though we see only some of his might, wisdom and love in his creative works. In contrast with many worldly rulers, he does not coldly keep a distance from those over whom he rules. Out of love Jehovah God liberally provides his creatures with instruction that can help them to live happy lives. In fact, the Bible is filled with God’s “reminders” that promote happiness.—Psalm 25:8-10.
Citing certain laws that let us know how God views various actions, Jesus Christ said: “You must not murder, You must not commit adultery, You must not steal, You must not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother, and, You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18, 19) What do you think the world would be like if such instructions were applied? Surely, if nobody was a murderer, an adulterer, a thief and the like, mankind would be much, much happier.
The Scriptures say: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!” (Psalm 144:15) How true! Many have applied God’s counsel, and this has given them the tranquillity and confidence that are indispensable for true happiness. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Let us note what a few of them have to say.
What could make a drug-addicted illegal squatter happy? He had chosen an immoral life, heavy drinking, interest in “pop” festivals and fighting. Of course, he could see that the society he hated was not changed by the things he did. All that remained for him, he felt, was to enjoy himself and do what he pleased. But the parents of the girl he married showed him the way to a new society now developing. He says: “Once married, I was, as it were, forced to see that the life I had led until then could result only in disaster. I now possess the deep-seated realization that following the Bible’s advice can bring about great changes for good in a person’s life. Together with my wife and two children, I serve God as a baptized witness of Jehovah.” This man has found true happiness as a Christian.
Please consider another case. But first ask yourself: How happy would I be if I had just been operated on for cancer, was still receiving radiation treatment and would probably have to undergo a second operation? A certain woman who is going through this traumatic experience once was known throughout her neighborhood as a prostitute. It took a long time before she was able to put into practice all the Scriptural counsel she received. But reliance on God has enabled her to make great changes in her life. In her own village in the Netherlands, where everyone knows of her former reputation, she now goes from house to house in order to declare the “good news” and help others find real happiness. Although this woman has serious health problems, she says: “I have put all my trust in Jehovah God, and he will help me.” She, too, knows real happiness.
The experience of an elderly woman in Amsterdam proves that a person does not lose true happiness in spite of many setbacks in this unhappy world. This woman had been happily married for 57 years, but a few months after becoming a widow she could say: “I am quite happy, feel safe in my house and am not afraid.” What is the secret of her happiness? She says: “If you obey God’s laws, then you are happy.”
Happiness Can Be Yours
So it would seem that inner tranquillity and joy do not depend so much on such circumstances as health, wealth, honor, and so forth. Lasting happiness depends on a good conscience, self-respect, true friends—and, above all, friendship with God. Why not try to “see” him by looking at his creation with more understanding and especially by making a study of the Bible? Who knows how happy you may be because you take to heart what you read in God’s inspired Word?
But are people who become witnesses of Jehovah always completely happy? To be quite honest, No. As the following article shows, imperfect humans all have problems and need help in coping with them. Yet God’s Word, the Bible, helps sincere Christians to keep walking along the path to endless happiness.