Are most people happy? Dennis Wholey, author of Are You Happy? reports that according
to expert opinion, perhaps only 20 percent of Americans are happy.
Those experts would probably agree with the wry definition of happiness offered by
psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who said, "Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly
attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children and by
children to adults."
Our Daily Bread, October 11, 1994.
Quarterback cum ESPN commentator Joe Theismann, allegedly explaining to his
soon-to-be-ex second wife why he had an affair: "God wants Joe Theismann to be
Holiday Inn, when looking for 500 people to fill positions for a new facility,
interviewed 5,000 candidates. The hotel managers interviewing these people excluded all candidates who smiled fewer
than four times during the interview. This applied to people competing for jobs in all
Bits & Pieces, March 3, 1994, p. 11.
A fascinating study on the principle of the Golden Rule was conducted by Bernard
Rimland, director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research. Rimland found that
"The happiest people are those who help others." Each person involved in the
study was asked to list ten people he knew best and to label them as happy or not happy.
Then they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish,
using the following definition of selfishness: a stable tendency to devote one's time and
resources to one's own interests and welfare--an unwillingness to inconvenience one's self
for others." (Rimland, 'The Altruism Paradox,' Psychological Reports 51 : 521)
In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also
labeled unselfish. He wrote that those "whose activities are devoted to bringing
themselves happiness...are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are
devoted to making others happy" Rimland concluded: "Do unto others as you would
have them do unto you." (Ibid, p. 522).
Martin & Diedre Bobgan, How To Counsel
From Scripture, Moody Press, 1985, p. 123.
What really makes people satisfied with their lives? Amazingly, the secret may lie in a person's ability to handle
life's blows without blame or bitterness. These are the conclusions of a study of 173 men who have been followed since
they graduated from Harvard University in the early 1940s. The study, reported in the
American Journal of Psychiatry, noted that one potent predictor of well-being was the ability to handle
emotional crisis maturely.
Today in the Word, November 2, 1993.
6 weeks before he died, a reporter asked Elvis Presley, "Elvis, when you first
started playing music, you said you wanted to be rich, famous and happy. Are you
"I'm lonely as hell" he replied.
A woman I know climbed on the bathroom scale after two weeks of butterless toast and
chilly jogs around the park. The needle was still stuck on the number where she'd started.
This struck her as typical of how things had been going lately. She was destined never to
As she dressed, scowling at her tight jeans, she found $20 in her pocket. Then her
sister called with a funny story. When she hurried out to the car -- angry that she had to
get gas -- she discovered her roommate had already filled the tank for her. And this was a
woman who thought she'd never be happy.
Every day, it seems, we're flooded with pop-psych advice about happiness. The
relentless message is that there's something we're supposed to do to be happy -- make the
right choices, or have the right set of beliefs about ourselves. Our Founding Fathers even
wrote the pursuit of happiness into the Declaration of Independence.
Coupled with this is the notion that happiness is a permanent condition. If we're not
joyful all the time, we conclude there's a problem.
Yet what most people experience is not a permanent state of happiness. It is something
more ordinary, a mixture of what essayist Hugh Prather once called "unsolved
problems, ambiguous victories and vague defeats -- with few moments of clear peace."
Maybe you wouldn't say yesterday was a happy day, because you had a misunderstanding
with your boss. But weren't there moments of happiness, moments of clear peace? Now that
you think about it, wasn't there a letter from an old friend, or a stranger who asked
where you got such a great haircut? You remember having a bad day, yet those good moments
Happiness is like a visitor, a genial, exotic Aunt Tilly who turns up when you least
expect her, orders an extravagant round of drinks and then disappears, trailing a
lingering scent of gardenias. You can't command her appearance; you can only appreciate
her when she does show up. And you can't force happiness to happen -- but you can make
sure you are aware of it when it does.
While you're walking home with a head full of problems, try to notice the sun set the
windows of the city on fire. Listen to the shouts of kids playing basketball in the fading
light, and feel your spirits rise, just from having paid attention.
Happiness is an attitude, not a condition. It's cleaning the Venetian blinds while
listening to an aria, or spending a pleasant hour organizing your closet. Happiness is
your family assembled at dinner. It's in the present, not in the distant promise of a
"someday when..." How much luckier we are -- and how much more happiness we
experience -- if we can fall in love with the life we're living.
Happiness is a choice. Reach out for it at the moment it appears, like a balloon
drifting seaward in a bright blue sky.
Condensed from Glamour, Adair Lara, Reader's Digest.
At the height of her fame as the other woman in the Ivana and Donald Trump breakup,
Marla Maples spoke of her religious roots. She believed in the Bible, she told
interviewers, then added the disclaimer, "but you can't always take [it] literally
and be happy."
C. Colson, The Body, p. 124.
In answer to the question, "Where is happiness?" Clarence Macartney said, "It's not found in pleasure--Lord Byron lived
such a life if anyone did. He wrote, "The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone." Happiness is not found in money--Jay
Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said, "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth." It's
not found in position and fame--Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote, "Youth is a mistake, manhood
a struggle, and old age a regret." It's not found in military glory--Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day.
Having done so, he wept in his tent because, he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer.""
I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies.
Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my
felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they
amount to 14! O man, place not thy confidence in this present world!
Abdalrahman, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Ever notice that when your cup of happiness is full, somebody always jogs your elbow?
An old man was asked what had robbed him of joy the most in his lifetime. He replied, "Things that never happened!" Someone has
cited these three keys to happiness: 1)Fret not--He loves you (John 13:1), 2)Faint not--He holds you (Psalm 139:10), 3)Fear
not--He keeps you (Psalm 121:5).
Ten rules for happier living:
1. Give something away (no strings attached)
2. Do a kindness (and forget it)
3. Spend a few minutes with the aged (their experience is a
4. Look intently into the face of a baby (and marvel)
5. Laugh often (it's life's lubricant)
6. Give thanks (a thousand times a day is not enough)
7. Pray (or you will lose the way)
8. Work (with vim and vigor)
9. Plan as though you'll live forever (because you will)
10.Live as though you'll die tomorrow (because you will on some
To ask that God's love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is,
His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already
loves us He must labour to make us lovable. We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our
present impurities--no more than the beggar maid could wish that King Cophetua should be content with her rags and dirt, or a dog,
once having learned to love man, could wish that man were such as to tolerate in his house the snapping,
verminous, polluting creature of the wild pack. What we would here and now call our
"happiness" is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we
are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.
Happiness is not the end of life; character is.
There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
Robert Louis Stevenson.
Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and
is never attained. Follow some other object and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.