Happiness

Chris Boardman is one of the most iconic figures in cycling. He has been at the forefront of in innovation in cycling for more than two decades. He shot to fame as Britain’s first Olympic cycling gold medallist in 72 years.

 

Here’s how he reflected on this early success:

“Your entire life is wrapped up in getting this one thing. You believe this one thing is the answer. Once you’ve got this one thing, you tell yourself, you’ll be satisfied. The lucky ones get there and find that it isn’t the answer, then they go looking in the right places for satisfaction and happiness. It’s not wrapped up in a gold medal.”

For many years, Tal Ben Shahar taught the most popular course at Harvard. It was on happiness. He distinguished between two paths that people often take. Each path was characterised by a burger.

Where else have you seen people looking for ‘the one thing’ that will make them happy?

One path was characterised by a junk food burger – tasty but unhealthy. This approach to happiness lives for the moment, without giving thought to the future.

What are the consequences of only ever seeing happiness as being about indulging yourself?

A second approach was characterised by the kind of burger you eat because it’s good for you – not because you really want to. You forgo current pleasures, because they might rob you of greater happiness in the future.

What might someone like Chris Boardman say to a person approaching happiness in this way?

Tal Ben Shahar said that the ideal burger is both tasty and healthy. In the same way, we’re most happy when we can derive pleasure in the moment, all the while knowing that these moments are securing a brighter future:

“The objective is to spend as much time as possible engaged in activities that provide both present and future benefit.” 

If atheism is true, then there is no design in our life’s circumstances, or in the world around us. Things just are.

How might living according to this reality sometimes rob atheists of happiness?

If atheism is true, we are people that will only day die in a race that will one day die on a planet that will one day die in a universe that will one day die.

How might living according to this reality sometimes rob atheists of happiness?

When sharing his story of reality, Jesus emphasised three things.

We live in a world crafted by God.

 

Though broken by humans, the world as we experience it today is full of kindnesses crafted by God and placed in our lives for us to enjoy.

We all look for pleasure in the wrong places.

 

Much of the suffering and brokenness we see in the world is because we over-desire things which can’t ultimately make us happy. Jesus asks, as the one revealing the God who loves us, that we entrust ourselves to him for our happiness.

Jesus will personally return to make the world new.

 

Death is not the most ultimate reality. Jesus showed this by his own resurrection from the dead, securing the possibility of our place in his world made new. Our lives and their achievements need not be wiped out by the grave.

We enjoy many of the same things, regardless of our faith commitments. But take an aspect of life in which you’re looking for pleasure or happiness. How might life following Jesus change your experience of happiness in this area?

Why is happiness hard to come by? Consider whether we're looking in the wrong places.

Bethinking

See for yourself what Jesus has to say about happiness. 

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