Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Dark Lie of "Happiness" (Part 1)

You know what's great about living frugally? I'm getting used to it. And I don't feel deprived what-so-ever. I love the challenge and I love the feeling of contentment and I love knowing that I'm being a better steward of the financial blessings God has given us. I love living with simplicity as a cornerstone. It is awesome. I highly recommend it.

But I'm learning contentment. And as with any lesson, there are times when it clicks and times when it is hard to adhere to the things you are learning. There are times when I feel good about my progress and times when God drops a clear reminder into my lap that I'm still learning.

One such reminder came about as I was listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast last night. The discussion was on living simply - with balance and with margin in you time and finances. It was so incredibly good - listen to the pod cast here if you are interested (titled: Living with the End in Mind Part 1). The point that stood out to me was the fact that study after study has shown that stuff doesn't make people happy. Duh, right? I think we all intuitively know this is true, yet we are in constant pursuit of stuff. We spend our time making money to buy more stuff. We spend more money to protect and maintain our stuff. We worry about our stuff and how we are going to get more stuff. And it never makes us happy. Instead, it makes us over-worked, over-committed, over-stressed and over-exhausted.

"People think they need more and more to be happy, but if you look at the 'happiness studies' - the sociology of happiness around the globe... the western world never finishes at the top in terms of happy nations. In all of these sociological studies, when looking at how happy a nation is... the desire for material acquisition always functions as a happiness suppressant." - Dr. Richard Swenson [1] 

The desire for material acquisition always functions as a happiness suppressant.

My goodness, friends - what are we doing? How have we bought so deeply into the lie that stuff can make us happy? Even secular studies show us again and again how backwards that mentality is and the Bible has been telling us that truth for generations.

I'm not saying that having stuff is wrong - there are plenty of stories in the Bible of people who God blessed with stuff. But if having stuff becomes our pursuit - what most readily defines our lives and the way we spend our time and money - then we have bought into a dark lie that is stealing life from us and robbing us from the purpose, contentment, fulfillment and holiness that God meant for us to have.

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."
- 1 Timothy 6:6-8

[1] Dr. Richard Swenson, Focus on the Family's broadcast Living with a End in Mind Part 1, aired July 12, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Amen and amen.

    And yet, why can I think of at least five things off the top of my head that I'd love to have right now?

    I need to sew that phrase, "the desire for material acquisition always functions as a happiness suppressant" onto my pillow or something. Or at least quote it to myself every morning while I'm getting ready.


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