Happiness Depends On Expectations

I recently read an article about the happiness quotient of different countries. The results surprised me; I had expected that economically rich countries would have a higher happiness quotient than poor countries, but surprisingly, the opposite was true. One of the countries with the highest measured level of happiness was Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world.

The seminary I attended is located in one of the most expensive areas in Northern California. The seminary bought the land and erected their buildings when the land was cheap. Later, rich people started buying the areas around it because of its beautiful surroundings, and it has become an affluent area where rich people make their homes. When I looked down from the hill where the seminary stands, I saw a tennis court and a pool in almost every house. However, the suicide rate in the area is among the highest in the nation.

Our happiness depends on our expectations. When our expectations of life are high, we are less happy. When our expectations are low we are happier. C.S. Lewis, the author of “Mere Christianity”, said that if we think of life as a hotel, we see it is a crummy place to live, but if we view it as a prison camp, it is indeed a very nice place.

I feel like my personal happiness quotient is pretty high, because I have gone through many hardships, especially when I was young. I remember difficult times during the Korean War even though I was only 6 years old. I remember when the only thing we had to eat was a bowl of steamed barley or millet. I remember when 10 people slept together in a tiny room. So when I sit at the dining table with an abundance of food in front of me, or lie in my soft bed at night, I cannot help but feel thankful.

In this regard, our children may not be as happy as their parents because they don’t experience hardship as we did. Most of them have never really been poor, so they don’t really appreciate what they have.

The same principle applies to your spiritual life. If you feel that spiritual gifts and ministry opportunities are your rights, your Christian walk is bound to be unhappy. But if you consider them privileges, then your Christian walk will be happy.

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