Happiness is elusive. People wish each other a happy new year — yet without giving it a second thought. YOU can be happy — every year. Here is how!
THIS is the time of year when everybody is wishing everybody else a "Happy New Year." But stop and look around you — at friends, relatives, business acquaintances and complete strangers. How many truly happy people do you see? Pitifully few! And what about you, personally? Are you filled with real happiness — the deep and all-encompassing kind that penetrates every activity and overrides every problem? The kind that makes each day a thrill to be alive? Are you going to live 1967 filled with this kind of happiness? You CAN — and you should!
Why People are Unhappy
Have you ever wondered why deep and lasting happiness seems to be so difficult for man to attain — why, after 6000 years of human experience, the search for personal satisfaction, contentment and peace of mind is still such a frustrating and hopeless struggle for so many millions? There is a reason! People are unhappy because they are breaking the laws which govern and regulate happiness. Most do not even know that such laws exist — and fewer still know the source of them. Visitors to the three Ambassador College campuses are constantly amazed that our students beam with such radiant happiness. They just can't figure it out. Yet there is a very definite reason why these students are happy. They have learned that there are certain principles which govern happiness. And they are eagerly striving to put these principles into practice in their personal, daily lives. The source of these rules and principles is, believe it or not, the Bible! God has given man an Instruction Book which explains how to operate the marvelous mechanism of the human mind and body. This Instruction Book — the Bible — reveals to man how he can live a life bubbling and sparkling with true joy and lasting happiness. Man, however, exercising the freedom of choice which God has allowed him, has rejected God's sure way to happiness. And more than that, as if attempting to prove God wrong, has sought happiness by stubbornly going in the exact opposite direction from that which will bring happiness! If God says, "Do this — it will make you happy," man obstinately refuses to do it. And if God says, "Don't do this, it will bring you suffering and misery," man will insist on doing it! And just look at the results! What an unending stream of heartache, misery and woe! But you can be different. You can be happy! In the Bible, God reveals at least seven basic principles telling you how. No gimmicks, no hocus-pocus, no magic formulas. Just practical, workable, down-to-earth rules of conduct which you can begin to use in your life today, tomorrow and the days after that. Properly applied, these principles are guaranteed to bring true happiness. Let's see what they are.
Happiness is Giving
The very cornerstone of all true happiness is an attitude of outgoing affection, love and concern for others. It is an attitude of giving. Jesus said, "To give is happier than to GET" (Acts 20:35, Moffat). But human nature doesn't see it that way. It wants to GET — to take, to grasp, to seize for the self. Our advertising media constantly appeal to this human weakness. Happiness is getting a certain name brand watch or a certain model car, they tell us. And millions believe it! Polls show that the average American and Briton believes that if he could somehow get about a thirty percent increase in his income, he would be truly happy! So labor strikes to get more money and benefits for less work. Management schemes to get a top price for inferior products and slipshod service. Our air, food and water are polluted because man lusts to get greedy profits by unscrupulous shortcuts without caring about the effects these methods have on his fellowman. Our agriculture is becoming cursed because men force the ground in order to get more from the soil. Now look at ourselves: Our bodies are sick, malfunctioning and dissipated because we have tried to stimulate, arouse, excite and titillate our senses in a frantic effort to GET more of different thrills, sensations and pleasures from these, senses than they were meant to experience. We glut our stomachs with highly seasoned but nutritionally raped foods and drink; we fill our lungs with cancer-inducing smoke; we stuff our veins with tranquilizers, drugs, medicines and dope; and we burn the candle at both ends — in promiscuous sex, trips on LSD, drunken debauchery and a thousand other sins and excesses. Why? To get all the kicks we possibly can out of life. Our minds — and those of our children — are filled with mental garbage because someone is willing to peddle pornography, obscene films and degenerate music just to get their hands on a few more inflated dollars or pounds — and because Joe and Jane Q. Public want to get a cheap, shallow amusement thrill or a vicarious sex thrill from wallowing in this kind of "entertainment." Our homes are filled with knockdown, drag-out family arguments because husband and wife want to get as much as they can without ever so much as a thought about giving to the mate. Our land is filled with crime because people want to get material goods and pleasures so desperately that they are willing to kill, steal, rape, plunder and loot in order to obtain the object of their lusts. Cities, counties and states bitterly compete with one another to get water, natural resources, industry, conventions, tourists, military bases and government contracts away from one another. Ambitious leaders of political parties, extremist movements and rabble-rousing organizations of all kinds try to GET power, territory and prestige. The result? Riots and civil commotion or, on the international level, war. Every misery and woe this world has is caused by man's inordinate desire to GET. Satan has used this selfish pull as one of his prime tools in deceiving the whole world (Rev. 12:9) Man's greed is so great that, unless God intervened, it would cause man to blast himself off this planet (Matt. 24:22) — and that within the next decade! But thank God, Jesus Christ — the One Who said, "To give is happier than to get" — is going to intervene. He is going to establish a world-ruling government based on the platform of giving. And He is going to FORCE those under Him to live in harmony with this platform so that everyone can be happy.
Why Not Live God's Way Now?
God wants man to enjoy every pleasure and possession that is good for him. He says, through John, "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health" (III John 2). God wants man to enjoy good health, an abundance of material possessions, wholesome sports, stimulating cultural events, relaxing social occasions and interesting hobbies. Such material blessings can add tremendously to true happiness. That is why God wants to give them to man. But these things cannot, by themselves, bring happiness. Happiness comes from obedience to the Law of God — the Ten Commandments. Suffering comes from disobedience. Suffering is the absence or loss of that happiness that God's Law gives. Material blessings add to happiness only when rightly used — with a giving, sharing attitude and with the aim of helping man achieve the purpose for which he was put on this earth. When wrongly used — with an inward, selfward, unsharing, getting attitude — material things bring only emptiness, misery, frustration and despair. That is why you see so many miserable people today — even among those who have wealth and possessions. God has made it so that man cannot possess both material blessings and real happiness unless he is first willing and desirous of sharing these blessings with others in the way God intends. Until God forces him to, man will not do this. But you — whoever, whatever and wherever you are — can begin to live your life according to God's happy giving way right now. It will not be easy. Your human nature will resist every step of the way. It will try to convince you that happiness is getting. But with the help of God, you can overcome this downward pull. As a starter, give your employer an honest day's work. Or if you are an employer, give your employees a fair wage and your customers a decent product or service. Give to your husband, wife or family the time and effort necessary to fulfill your responsibilities to them. Give to others in little things — a smile, a bit of inspiration, a word of encouragement, a little time, a kind word, a right example to someone who needs it. And give to God, too. Give Him the worship and adoration which He deserves. Give Him the time in prayer and Bible study — yes, and tithes and offerings, too — which are justly due Him. Not out of a motive of getting something in return — though God will more than reward your efforts — but out of a sincere desire to give yourself completely to the One Who gives everything to you. This is the way to begin applying the first great principle of happiness. Happiness is giving. Try it. It works!
Obey God's Law
The key to happiness is a willing, wholehearted obedience to God's living law of love — the Ten Commandments. The first four of these commandments tell you how to express your love to God; the last six tell you how to love your fellowman. Giving love to others by obeying these commandments brings happiness. This is why David, a man after God's own heart, exclaimed: "Happy are they that are upright in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Happy are they that keep His testimonies, that seek Him with the whole heart" (Ps. 119:1-2, Jewish translation). Another Psalm tells us: "Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night... And in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper" (Ps. 1:1-3, Jewish translation). These verses are quoted from the Jewish translation which renders the Hebrew word ashere as "happy." The King James version sometimes translates ashere as "blessed." The New Testament Greek word makarios has the same meaning. Turn now to the New Testament. Here we read, "Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty [the Ten Commandments], and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a DOER of the work, this man shall be happy [Greek, makarios] in his deed" (James 1:25). And then in the very last chapter of the Bible, Christ Himself says, "Behold, I come quickly: HAPPY [Greek, makarios] is he that keepeth the 'sayings of the prophecy of this book... HAPPY [Greek, makarios] are they that do his commandments" (Rev. 22:7, 14). How clear and plain the entire Bible is — Old and New Testament alike — that obedience to God's Law brings happiness! Yet how many people — yes, even professing Christians — believe it? Most will vehemently argue that if you obey the Ten Commandments, the Law of Love, you are under a "curse." How absurd when entire chapters and books of the Bible are devoted to telling us of the tremendous blessings which obedience to God's Law brings. Small wonder so many today — including a lot of religious people — are so frustrated, miserable and unhappy. They aren't obeying God's Law. Are you? Unless and until you actively begin to obey all ten of God's Commandments, in the spirit as well as in the letter, you will not — you cannot — experience true happiness. If you have not yet read our free booklet on The Ten Commandments, please read it immediately.
Get Rid of Guilt
Many people allow themselves to do things which they know are wrong — and then wonder why they are unhappy. The Bible tells us, "Happy [Greek, makarios] is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth" (Rom. 14:22). If you are doing something which you know is wrong, you shouldn't even expect to be happy. But today a lot of people don't even know the difference between right and wrong! They are confused about sin. They have been told that there are no moral absolutes — that whether or not a particular deed is sin depends on the person, the occasion, the motive, etc.! Consequently, millions walk around with guilt complexes that absolutely rob them of any happiness. Their consciences have been so perverted and miseducated that it often bothers them when it shouldn't, and doesn't bother them when it should. In the Bible God tells us plainly that "Sin is the transgression of the law" — the breaking of the Ten Commandments (I John 3:4). And the reason sin is so bad is that it brings suffering and misery in this present life and eventually, if not repented of, it brings eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Since "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23), each individual needs to repent of his sins, and to cry out to God for forgiveness. Only when a person has his guilty past blotted out and determines to quit practicing sin can he get rid of the misery of guilt and be truly happy. The Bible says, "Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is pardoned. Happy is the man unto whom the Lord counteth not iniquity" (Ps. 32:1-2, Jewish translation). The free article, "What is Real Repentance?" is available to give you further help and instruction on this major key to happiness.
Understanding God's Plan
You can't possibly be happy if you are uncertain about the future, and are vainly groping in the dark trying to figure out a reason for your existence — wondering where you came from, why you are on this earth and where you are going. But you need not be in ignorance about these basic questions of life. The answers to these vital questions arc available to you through this Work of God. The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, The PLAIN TRUTH magazine, the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course and our other literature answer the most important questions of your life continually. Christ said to His disciples, "Happy [Greek, makarios] are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see. and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them" (Luke 10:23-24). Today you have the privilege of understanding everything Christ's disciples understood — and more! Never has God's plan been revealed more plainly than in this end-time age. Many prophecies which have been "sealed till the time of the end" (Dan. 12:4, 9) have now been clearly revealed. So have many other wonderful truths about why you were born, what your purpose in life is, what the future holds for you and what is going to happen in the next five, eight and ten years. How priceless this knowledge is — and how necessary for your happiness and peace of mind! Obviously, a detailed explanation of God's plan is not possible in this one article. But if you keep reading The PLAIN TRUTH and listening to The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast — always writing in for the free literature as it is offered — you will begin to understand where you fit in God's great plan. And as you learn, you will begin to experience the happiness which the understanding of this awesome plan brings.
"Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but he that keepeth the law [he who restrains him, self when tempted to do wrong], happy is he" (Prov. 29:18, Jewish translation). Exercising restraint or denying yourself a fleeting pleasure of the moment in order to gain a goal of greater and more permanent value is another vital key to happiness. Such purposeful restraint builds character. Character is first knowing what is right, and then determining to DO what you know is right every single time. It is refusing to yield to the pressure, to give up or to take the easy way out when you are faced with a problem or are tempted to do something which you know is wrong — no, not even once. God says, "Happy are they that keep justice, that do righteousness at all times" (Ps. 106:3, Jewish translation) — even when you don't feel like it or when there are adverse conditions. You can experience real joy even in suffering and trials if you understand the purpose of life and use that suffering or trial as a tool to build God-like character. The suffering will last but briefly, but the character built by it will last throughout eternity. This is why Peter could write: "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye" (I Pet. 3:14; 4:14). Sometimes God tests and strengthens our character through correction. But this, too, can result in greater happiness. The man Job — and he ought to know — was inspired to say, "Happy is the man whom God correcteth" (Job 5:17). Not because this correction is pleasant, for "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless, afterward [in the long run] it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb. 12:11). There is a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in meeting the challenge of your human nature and overcoming its downward pull through the power of God's Spirit. There is real joy in choosing the permanent, eternal values instead of just the fleeting, temporary pleasures. There is real happiness in building Godly character.
People today are filled with fear. They fear they will lose their job. They fear the ideas and opinions of other people. They fear sickness, death and the future. It seems that they fear everything except what they ought to fear most of all — God! Yet this lack of fear toward God is another big reason why people are unhappy. God indicts our society: "Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:16-18). But how can fearing God possibly contribute to happiness? Aren't fear and happiness opposites? What does it mean to "fear God"? To fear God means to recognize the tremendous strength and power which God possesses. It means to realize that God's Word is sure — that God means what He says — and to fear to disobey. When God promises a blessing for obedience, He will always give it. And when God says He will punish us for our own good, He will do it. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31). Those who have not proved God's existence, or those to whom God does not seem very real, see little to fear. They break God's laws with impunity, thinking that it doesn't make any difference, that there is no penalty. The fear of God's sure and awesome punishment keeps one from sinning. It is not terror, but a good fear — a healthy fear — a fear born out of deep love, awe and respect. Such fear leads to obedience and blessings. "Happy is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth... Wealth and riches shall be in his house" (Ps. 112:1-3, Jewish translation). And in Psalm 128:1-4: "Happy is everyone that feareth the Lord, that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord." Are you going to reap the happiness and blessings that come from the fear of God this year?
Everyone has problems and trials that are outside of their ability to control. When faced with such difficulties, many people get frustrated. Frustration is just thwarted self-will. They can't solve the problem the way they would like to see it solved so they become upset and unhappy. The happy way to take care of such a problem is to place it in God's hands and quietly trust Him to work it out. "Whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he" (Prov. 16:20). See also Psalms 2:12; 34:8; 40:4 and 84:12. Perhaps you have a family problem, a health problem or a financial problem. It makes no difference to God. All things are within His control. If you trust Him implicitly to work out a particular problem, He will — and in the way that is best for you. At times God will solve the problem so quickly, so unexpectedly, so dramatically — or so miraculously — that you will be dumbfounded. But at other times, the best way to solve the problem for you may not be the way you want. God may not solve it when and as you desire. He may allow the problem to continue for a time in order to test and strengthen your character. If you trust God completely — acknowledging His infinite wisdom in working out the problem as He sees fit — you will be happy. But if you begin to fret and stew or to take matters into your own hands — desiring that the problem be worked out according to your will — you are only asking for misery and unhappiness. God knows your problem. He can change events and circumstances any time He desires. Just quietly trust Him and make the best of the situation until He sees fit to change it. He promises that you will be happy if you do.
These Principles and YOU
You now have in your possession seven invaluable keys to real happiness and peace of mind. Look at them again. A person who is practicing all seven of these principles would be continually giving, his life in service to God and man; he would be obeying God's Commandments; he would have repented of his guilty past and quit sinning; he would be growing in his understanding of God's plan; he would be striving to build God-like character; he would have a healthy fear of God; and he would be trusting God, in living faith, to work out his problems. Such a person would be a Christian! You may not have thought of it that way before, but happiness is being a real Christian! Now what about it? If you aren't living by the principles expounded in this article, why don't you decide to begin doing so right now? You will begin to experience a joy and happiness which you never before thought possible. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17) — not only during 1967 but throughout all eternity.