By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
The United Nations has issued its annual report on the happiest people on earth. The Number One ranking goes to Norway, the Scandinavian nation of five million, known for its fjords, reindeer and midnight sun. Norway moved up from fourth place last year. The metrics for measuring happiness favored Norway because of its wealth per person, annual income of $100,000, unemployment rate of about 4%, and low income inequality. The U.S. was ranked 14th among 155 nations.
I think one of the faults of the ranking is that it places too high a premium on materialist advancements, per capita income, etc. In contrast, a Princeton University study showed that happiness is positively impacted up to the income level of $75,000 a year. It does not increase significantly above that income level.
Dan Price, CEO and Founder of a credit card processing company called Gravity Payments, took this Princeton study seriously. He reduced his salary to $70,000 so everyone in his company would make at least $70,000 by the end of this year. That is an admirable move, but does it guarantee happiness for him or all his employees?
The Bible has very different criterion for happiness. Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5 with His teaching on happiness. The Good News Modern Man translation begins each verse with “Happy are you when . . .” His criteria is that you are happy when you realize your need for God (v. 3); when you are gentle and lonely (v. 5); when you are hungry and thirsty for justice (v. 6); when you are merciful to others (v. 7); when your heart is pure (v. 8); when you work for peace among all men (v. 9); when you are persecuted because you are doing what God requires (v. 10); when you are insulted because you are Jesus’ followers (v. 11).
That’s quite a different criterion for happiness! Verse 12 says that, “You can be happy about it, you can be very glad because a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
The Bible indicates happiness is not based on climate, or income, or achievements as measured by secular culture. Happiness is a choice – a choice to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Matthew 5 is clear that we are happy when we make the right choices! Proverbs 16:20 says, “Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he!”
I was preaching in Mississippi last summer at the Shiloh Camp Meeting. Services were held twice a day in an open air tabernacle. Because it was hot, I elected not to wear socks. I think I was the first preacher there who ever preached without socks. One night the host preacher, Rev. David Slaughter, wanted to have some fun with me, so during the service, he presented me with a pair of socks. He said, “These are Happy Socks! They are advertized that when you wear these socks you will be 20% happier.” We all laughed because we knew that was absurd. I wore them the next day – and it was absurd!
On my recent birthday, one of the things Lynn gave me was a couple of pairs of socks. She bought them because of the design on the socks and didn’t realize they were Happy Socks. That label, “Happy Socks,” is written right on each sock. I’ve worn both pair of them – same result. Even if I wore all three pair of happy socks at once, they wouldn’t make me 20% happier! However, I do love the socks!!!
Happiness is not coming from what we wear or what kind of money we make or something we achieve in life. Happiness is never found in our circumstances, but it is found in who we are and Whose we are.
Happiness is right at your fingertips. It’s God’s plan for you to receive it. It’s your choice!
What is your HQ – Happiness Quotient?
John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
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