A Happy Life

The joy of the Lord is my strength

The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)

I have read several books on happiness. Unfortunately, I have not come to a conclusion as to its real meaning. No one has accepted having lived a happy life without some ups and downs. However, I do believe that earthly happiness can be achieved by believing God and worshipping God with all that we have.

I believe that a happy life also involves friendship, tranquillity, simplicity and moderation to set us on the right track. According to the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, nothing satisfies the person for whom enough is too little.

Life can be very uncertain and demoralising due to a variety of issues such as poverty, climate change and depressing news. A woman I know said to me that she had never been happy in her life. I wondered if this could be possible. However, her answers to a few questions I asked her, made me believe she must have had a great problem which made her go from one life crisis to another. I wanted to introduce her to St. Mary’s where there is great happiness, but she only replied that she would let me know. I wanted to share with her that she has to touch heaven and let God prevail in her life. Maybe one day I will succeed.

I have discovered that happiness is not related to economic growth. Many people seem to have the concept that happiness is created by financial achievements. It seems to me that wealthy people do not appear to be any happier than others.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a report in 2013 which stated that for the second year in succession, Australia is the best country for quality of life. In addition to income, OECD looked at housing, education, personal relationships, health, work/relaxation balance and the quality of government. Australia was placed top, although it is by no means the richest country in the world. The U.K. then was about the world’s 5th largest economy, but we were ranked 10th for quality of life.

Other studies, which have been done for longer, consistently rank Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark, as the happiest in the world. Since 1973, The European Union has published a ‘happiness barometer’ and Denmark always comes out top. There is clearly more to happiness than just money. Denmark scores highly for three reasons: 1) A high level of trust in their society 2) The people feel empowered to make change and 3) People do not pass judgment on their neighbours so people are left to live life as they see fit. Happiness seems to be more about social cohesion and being in charge of one’s life than merely about finances.

It is a sobering thought that when we compare ourselves to others below us in the socio-economic scale, we feel happy, but when we compare ourselves to others above us, we feel miserable. We react this way regardless of what we actually have. I am reminded of the verse in 1 Timothy 6:6 which says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’.

As for me, I wish you the happiness of taking your shoes off after a hard day; the happiness of an elaborate scratch; the happiness of a good stretch; the happiness of good friends to share your laughter, your victories and your troubles. And finally, may you always choose the path that leads to the greatest happiness in Jesus, who will guide and protect you now and forever. Amen

Gladys Ikeme

(Child of God)