What is the purpose of our existence?
Some might say, “Well, it’s to be happy, of course.” In fact, even the Declaration of Independence lists “the pursuit of Happiness” among “certain unalienable Rights.”
But if you’re chasing after happiness, you might end up as a very unhappy person.
We assume that wealth, fame, and fortune will bring us happiness. Actor and comedian Jim Carrey knows a few things about that. He said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
We’re all wired differently, of course. I think some people are naturally happier than others. We see it in children. Some exhibit a happier temperament and a more buoyant attitude. Meanwhile, others aren’t as optimistic.
So how do we find happiness?
After a lot of research, some experts found that family and friends are the best antidote to unhappiness.
They also identified things that don’t make us happy. University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener concluded that materialism is toxic for happiness.
On the other hand, psychologists say that gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction. Talking and writing about what you’re grateful for amplifies your happiness. And learning to savor even the small pleasures has the same effect.
Then there’s forgiveness. “Forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness,” said University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson. “It’s the queen of all virtues,” he added, “and probably the hardest to come by.”
In other words, forgiving people are happy people.
All these are biblical qualities we can apply to our lives. In the pages of Scripture, we find the virtues of gratitude, forgiveness, and a strong family. It turns out that God had it right all along.