Currently, the most popular course at Yale University is called PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life and it teaches students how to be happy. It is a response to the fact that we live in a world filled with overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and depressed people.
According to a recent survey by the American College Health Association, 52% of students reported feeling hopeless and 39% suffered from such great depression that they found it tough to even function at some point the previous year.
And students are not the only ones struggling. Apparently the U.N maintains a “World Happiness Report,” and Americans ranked only 18th in the world (behind Canada, Finland and Australia…maybe that’s why Alexander wanted to run away to Australia).
Truth is, not very many of us can declare with a loud, honest voice, “I am a happy individual.”
Certainly the oldest living woman cannot. At 128 years old, Koku Istambulova from Russia says “And now I am not living, I am just dragging through. In fact, I haven’t enjoyed a single happy day in my life.”
Contrast that opinion with one expressed by Abraham Lincoln. “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” And I have to agree with him. But the scriptures give us the very clearest path to understanding how to be happy.
In Psalm 16:11, David declares, “You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Happiness (the ability to cope with life’s ups and down with a joy filled attitude) is only found in the presence of our creator. It was His idea that we find our joy when we hang out with Him. He is the amazing traveling companion that helps us see the negative things of ordinary life through an eternal lens.
And He adds that the pleasures of life (the laughter, the fun, the joy, the satisfactions and the meaningful relationships) all are anchored at His right hand. He provides the grace to endure, the strength to overcome, the opportunities to enjoy and the eternal fulfillments.
We may be a scared, overwhelmed group of people who lack true happiness, but it is not because it doesn’t exist. It is because we refuse to acknowledge that those joys are rooted in our relationship with Christ.
This week let us remember: happiness is possible as we learn to enjoy and serve Him.