Monday, November 7, 2011

And They Lived Contentedly Ever After

What? That isn't how the story goes? Well, maybe it should be. We live in a culture where happiness is the expectation. After all, as United States citizens it is one of our unalienable rights! OK, maybe not, but the pursuit of it is. The problem is, happiness is difficult to catch, and in all reality it probably should not be our priority.

In many studies wealth and happiness have been tied together here in the USA. Higher incomes equal more happiness. Yet we rank far below some poorer countries, such as Nigeria and Mexico, when comparing happiness among its citizens. Hmm...what does this say about our culture? We can conclude that wealth in itself does not directly influence happiness...but the perception of how important that wealth is, does. 

We are a society that tries valiantly to yoke material item and happiness together. Don't believe me? There are plenty of commercials on TV this time of year that lend evidence to this. Your loved ones will only experience happiness if you shower them with material goods. Family time is great! But gifts are better! No wonder lower income people feel less happy in our materialistic is a game they can't afford to play, let alone win.

Then we add to the mix a group of misdirected people who will tell you that God wants you to be, as a believer you can be expected to be blessed financially. If you are not? Well, maybe you just aren't living right...more unhappy thoughts.

Maybe we need to look a little deeper into God's word. I find references to contentment to be much more apparent. Additionally, the few references to happiness in the Bible do not refer at all to the gain of material wealth, but as happiness as the result of living a Godly life, irrespective of finances.

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content
~Philippians 4:11

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
~Hebrews 13:5

And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
~1 Timothy 6:8

I believe contentment is what we should be striving for. Learning to find it in all of our circumstances. Comparison then becomes meaningless to our situation in life. Very likely if we master contentment, we will find that happiness follows closely behind.

Blessings ~Marla

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