HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU HEARD HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS MEASURED IN TERMS OF ASSETS OR WEALTH? Driven by that view, millions work long, exhausting hours to make more money. But do money and possessions bring lasting happiness? What does the evidence suggest?
According to the Journal of Happiness Studies, once our basic needs are met, more income does little to improve our overall happiness or our sense of well-being. Money itself is not the issue. It’s “the striving for [money] that’s linked to unhappiness,” states an article in the magazine Monitor on Psychology. Those words mirror this advice given in the Bible almost two thousand years ago: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have . . . stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) What may those pains include?
WORRY AND LOSS OF SLEEP BECAUSE WEALTH HAS TO BE PROTECTED. “Sweet is the sleep of the one serving, whether he eats little or much, but the plenty belonging to the rich one does not permit him to sleep.”—Ecclesiastes 5:12.
DISAPPOINTMENT WHEN THE PROMISED HAPPINESS FAILS TO ARRIVE. In part, that letdown is because a craving for money cannot be satisfied. “A lover of silver will never be satisfied with silver, nor a lover of wealth with income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Also, a hunger for wealth may move a person to sacrifice important things that do promote happiness, such as precious time spent with family and friends or in spiritual pursuits.
GRIEF AND FRUSTRATION WHEN MONEY OR INVESTMENTS DEPRECIATE OR FAIL. “Do not wear yourself out to gain wealth. Stop and show understanding. When you cast your eyes on it, it is not there, for it will surely sprout wings like an eagle and fly off.”—Proverbs 23:4, 5.
QUALITIES THAT PROMOTE HAPPINESS
CONTENTMENT. “We have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having food and clothing, we will be content with these things.” (1 Timothy 6:7, 8) People who are content are not disposed to complain or grumble, and their attitude protects them against envy. And because their desires do not exceed their means, they spare themselves needless anxiety and stress.
GENEROSITY. “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Generous people are happy because they enjoy making others happy, even if all they can give is a little of their time and energy. They often gain in abundance what no amount of money can buy—love, respect, and genuine friends, who give generously in return!—Luke 6:38.
PUTTING PEOPLE BEFORE THINGS. “Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love than a fattened bull where there is hatred.” (Proverbs 15:17) The point? Loving relationships with others are more valuable than material riches. And love, as we shall see later, is vital to happiness.
Sabina, a woman in South America, learned the value of Bible principles. Abandoned by her husband, Sabina struggled to obtain life’s necessities for herself and her two daughters. She held two jobs and daily rose at 4:00 a.m. Despite her grueling schedule, Sabina decided to study the Bible. The result?
Her economic status remained much the same. But her outlook on life improved dramatically! For example, she gained the happiness that comes from satisfying one’s spiritual need. (Matthew 5:3) She found true friends among fellow believers. And she experienced the happiness of giving by sharing with others what she had learned.
“Wisdom is vindicated by its results,” the Bible says. (Matthew 11:19; footnote) On that basis, contentment and generosity as well as putting people before things stand thoroughly vindicated!