Happiness seems to be a theme for me this year and not just because "Happy" by Pharrell Williams is our favorite song. Speaking of the song "happy" how can you not be happy when listening to and dancing to that song?
So as I have noted before, part of the stuff that I am working through is my comparison to others and always seeing what I don't have instead of what I do. I can easily fall victim into the the trap of thinking that if we had a bigger house or if I had a full time job and more money that I would be happier. Part of me knows that these things will not make me happy, but part of me believes it will because there are so many people who live this way and seem happy.
A couple of nights ago we began watching the documentary "Happy" on Netflix. I was blown away at the scientific explanation on what makes us happy. 50% of our happiness is determined by our genes, some people are genetically happier than others and we all have a happiness setpoint. 40% of our happiness is something we can control through exercise, meditation, showing compassion, giving to others, and other activities that involve giving and being a part of a community, basically being the opposite of self absorbed. That only leaves 10% of our happiness from our circumstances such as our job, our house, our health, and other material things.
10%, I am blown away. That is such a small component of our happiness, yet how many people, myself included try to live or believe that our circumstances determine 90% of our happiness?
Part of me knows that volunteering, loving others, showing compassion, giving to others, making the world a better place, etc is what truly makes us happy, yet I fall for the lie that it is stuff. People with the big houses, good jobs, nice cars, all seem happy, but are they really? According to this, they probably aren't, or they aren't based on their stuff, they are happy because of what they do outside of themselves. The documentary also used the hedonic treadmill as an example of how material things will never bring increase happiness forever because a new material object will initially bring us happiness but there is always something nicer, newer, bigger, and we will return to our original setpoint of happiness over time.
Material things don't bring us happiness. Where have I heard that before? Hmmm, the Bible maybe and probably other religious texts.
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10
side note: if the word "vapor" is substituted for "meaningless" which is a better translation, the book of Ecclesiastes has a lot more meaning especially when you consider that vapor is fleeting.
There are many verses that mention how you can't love both material possession/money and God. It makes sense. God is love, and loving God is showing love to others and making the world a better place. The science of happiness even supports the the Christian beliefs of piety and service, serving others is just as satisfying to our nervous system as other pleasures. I know the truth, now if I can just live this way I probably can be a lot happier.
I love when faith and science support each other instead of contradict.