The official news service of the Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist church



20 March 2017 | St Albans, UK [Alan Redfern]  Welcome to the International Day of Happiness.   Really – this is the official designation of today by the United Nations.   Fortunately, happiness is not compulsory.  

Today we are supposed to promote happiness as a fundamental human right, including social action to increase happiness throughout the world.  

happiness grandkidsHappiness comes without striving for little children. Perhaps there are lessons we can learn.Happiness is enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence, and the World Happiness Index placed the US in 13th place, slightly above Cost Rica, Puerto Rica and Germany (I think that the survey was taken before the presidential election – whether things have been happier since then, you can surmise).   But before we laugh, the UK was only 23rd, although well above France, Slovakia and Italy.   Top of the scale were, as usual, the Scandinavian countries – even Sweden, although some way below the others, ranked 10th.

It seems to me that promoting happiness is really like treating the symptoms rather than the underlying causes.   Still, to be fair to the United Nations, they have set out Sustainable Goals including “ending poverty and hunger, increasing healthcare and the quality of education, reaching gender equality and many other great, humanitarian goals that would benefit the world”  

happiness Audrey JoyceHappiness is generally a result of underlying conditions and aspirations.  Of course, we can do something about aspirations – to quote two extremes, we can either advise people to be content with their lot, or we can encourage them to achieve their potential.

Our modern consumer society upholds the idea that having the best of everything is a fundamental right, and those who do not have everything are failures. It’s no wonder happiness is in short supply.   Even children are made to feel a failure if they do not have the latest iPhone.  

The fundamental error in concentrating on pursuing happiness is that it cannot be pursued. It will always elude those who try, the goal is pushed farther away at each step, like the gold at the end of the rainbow.   Pursuing it is an example of the axiom that we concentrate on what we can measure, which is seen throughout our society from GDP, through hospital waiting times to even church baptisms.

AlanJoyceAlan knows something about happiness - he's been practicing it for 80 yearsIn pursuing improved statistics, we often miss the really important objectives – the welfare of people, the improvement of our nation’s health or the way in which our church congregations demonstrate the character of God.  

I’m reminded of the experience of the early church recorded in Acts 2: 46-47 [Message Bible]. “They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.”

No programmes, no rallies, no campaigns; just living a life with enthusiasm and joy.   Ah! Happiness! [tedNEWS]

[This reflection was presented at the Trans-European Division staff worship on 20 March 2017, the Spring Equinox and UN International Happiness day.]

tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Esti Pujic, associate editor
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Website: www.ted.adventist.org
tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division.