Wherefrom Comes Happiness?

Taken Under the  Wing  of the Small Magellanic Cloud Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC and the University of Potsdam, JPL-Caltech, and STScI

Taken Under the Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud
Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC and the University of Potsdam, JPL-Caltech, and STScI

In this day and age, we live in a world that focuses on, and values, material things rather than the spiritual qualities of existence. This has led to the widespread rise of the ignoble qualities of personality in many people such as pride, ego, greed, selfishness, narcissism, and self-aggrandizement. Sadly, it appears that a surprising number of people have not known any other way to live.

At the same time, many of these same people are realizing that success in their career, prestige, and the accumulation of worldly possessions do not bring the happiness they assumed would follow. This has been demonstrated to us again and again through people we know and from stories of celebrities we read about or see on TV. We shake our heads and ask why happiness has eluded such privileged people.

What I have come to know in reflecting on my life is that material things did not make me happy. Rather, loving and helping others has brought me the greatest happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Although worldly possessions will not bring happiness, wanting for things you do not have can make you unhappy. It is the wanting itself that brings discontent, not the lack of things desired.

In my view, we should not be asking God for material things. God gives each of us the gifts and material things that he wishes us to have and that best serve his life plan for us. We should accept these with genuine gratitude and give thanks. Rather than ask for more, we should share what we have with others, especially the less fortunate.

I believe that praying should be reserved for giving thanks for what God has given to us, no matter how meager it may seem, and to ask for help for ourselves or others who are sick, in pain, or who are having difficulty with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. When we focus on others, the “need,” desire, and wanting for material things disappear, and our spirit begins to express itself.

We need to find a way to replace wanting with unselfish giving. It’s not complicated. This truly is the key to happiness and a spiritual way of life.

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