Happiness Where You Least Expect It

Happiness Where You Least Expect It

Matthew 3:1-17

Dr. Jim Denison

I’d like us to begin with a survey. Time magazine recently explored the subject of happiness, and included in its report a tool devised in 1980 by a psychologist named Edward Diener. It rates your happiness compared with the rest of us. Answer these questions on a scale of one (not at all true) to seven (absolutely true):

In most ways my life is close to my ideal.

The conditions of my life are excellent.

I am satisfied with my life.

So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.

If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

What did you score? 31 to 35: you are extremely satisfied with your life; 26 to 30: very satisfied; 21 to 25: slightly satisfied; 20: neutral; 15 to 19: slightly dissatisfied; 10 to 14: dissatisfied; 5 to 9: extremely dissatisfied.

Now, how can you raise your “happiness” score? Here’s an answer which will surprise our culture. According to Time, “Studies show that the more a believer incorporates religion into daily living–attending services, reading Scripture, praying–the better off he or she appears to be on two measures of happiness: frequency of positive emotions and over all sense of satisfaction with life. Attending services has a particularly strong correlation to feeling happy, and religious certainty–the sense of unshakable faith in God and the truth of one’s beliefs–is most closely linked with life satisfaction” (p. A46).