All of us want to be happy. What stops us from achieving lasting happiness? This article: Jesus and the Psychology of Happiness by Shayne Looper caught my attention as a topic that could mean a lot to many people. Do the teachings of Jesus help us to find happiness? I'll share some of my experiences with those teachings from The Urantia Book, but first here are some nice snips from the article, which is well-worth the read:
"In recent years, research in the field of psychology increasingly has turned toward the light rather than away from the darkness; that is, has turned its attention to gaining happiness rather than to treating pathology. This is not just pop psychology going through a phase. A quick search of Google Scholar will confirm academia's growing interest in positive psychology.
"John Ortberg points out that psychologists who focus their efforts on helping people achieve happiness will inevitably find themselves using values-laden language. They cannot help but enter the arena of ethics and morality, where the experts have not been scientists but philosophers and religious authorities. They frequently cite the Buddha, Aristotle, Confucius, and others.
"Although Jesus did not talk about happiness as such, he did talk about joy, which he saw as the result of the good life. He did not see joy as the sap running through the tree but as the fruit the healthy tree produces. For Jesus, it is righteousness - right relationships with God and people - not happiness, that is key."
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The Urantia Book influence
I may not know a lot about psychology, but I do know when I am happy and when I am not. Can you relate? There was a time in my life when I was decidedly unhappy - maybe discontented would be the right word. I had periods of relative happiness, episodes of happiness, but my overall life experience was one of discontent.
All of that changed when I finally reached the point where I was able to see that my discontent was the result of my own faulty decisions in life. Soon after I gave up trying to control my life on my own and surrendered my life to God's guidance, I found The Urantia Book. Since then, my life has taken a decided turn for the better - and the happier! In fact, I now bisect my life into two halves: before The Urantia Book and after. After is MUCH better!
The reason for this transformation is simple: transcending one's small self and identifying with the Higher Self raises one's life to a new nobility as a faith son of God. It establishes us in the family of God and assures us that we are loved and cared for, that we are never alone, and that we have a great and glorious future - an eternal future - filed with God, growth, love, fellowship, and yes - JOY! And that future can begin right here and now as we make the decision to turn our will to God and walk the spiritual path with him. I love this Urantia Book passage:
100:4.3 Health, mental efficiency, and happiness arise from the unification of physical systems, mind systems, and spirit systems. Of health and sanity man understands much, but of happiness he has truly realized very little. The highest happiness is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress.
Jesus defines happiness attitudes
Although there is not a lot in The Urantia Book specifically regarding Jesus with happiness, probably the most significant is contained in the Ordination Sermon, commonly thought of as the Beatitudes.
140:5.6 The faith and the love of these beatitudes strengthen moral character and create happiness. Fear and anger weaken character and destroy happiness. This momentous sermon started out upon the note of happiness.
"Happy are the poor in spirit, the humble, for theirs are the treasures of the kingdom of heaven.
"Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
"Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
"Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
"Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Happy are they who weep, for they shall receive the spirit of rejoicing.
"Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
"Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
"Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
These beatitudes inspire anyone who reads them to live a better life, a braver life, a more joyous life. Aspiring to live the values embodied in the beatitudes promises joy. And this promise is fulfilled for anyone who tests them. Many of them bespeak a life of self-forgetfulness. This is the secret, in my view: learning to live life more "other-oriented" than self-oriented; worrying less about what's happening to me, and more about what's important to someone else. Learning to love others...
Why are some people happier than others?
Here's a short discourse by Jesus to Simon's question about happiness:
149:5.1 Simon asked the Master: "Why are some persons so much more happy and contented than others? Is contentment a matter of religious experience?" Among other things, Jesus said in answer to Simon's question:
149:5.2 "Simon, some persons are naturally more happy than others. Much, very much, depends upon the willingness of man to be led and directed by the Father's spirit which lives within him. Have you not read in the Scripture the words of the wise man, `The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts'? And also that such spirit-led mortals say: `The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.' `A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked,' for `a good man shall be satisfied from within himself.' `A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance and is a continual feast. Better is a little with the reverence of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred therewith. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without rectitude.' `A merry heart does good like a medicine.' `Better is a handful with composure than a superabundance with sorrow and vexation of spirit.'
149:5.3 "Much of man's sorrow is born of the disappointment of his ambitions and the wounding of his pride. Although men owe a duty to themselves to make the best of their lives on earth, having thus sincerely exerted themselves, they should cheerfully accept their lot and exercise ingenuity in making the most of that which has fallen to their hands. All too many of man's troubles take origin in the fear soil of his own natural heart. `The wicked flee when no man pursues.' `The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it cannot rest, but its waters cast up mire and dirt; there is no peace, says God, for the wicked.'
Sowing and reaping
For me - and maybe for you, too - the life that is lived for God and for others is truly a life of happiness and joy. A life lived under self-will is a life dooomed to a harvest of discontent and downright unhappiness. Because when we are too self-centered, we sow too much into the "fear soil" of our own hearts. Living in the kingdom and for God; living as a peacemaker - a humble, merciful seeker of righteousness waters our life to produce the fruits of the Spirit!
The teachings of The Urantia Book can help any struggling soul to find a happier life. For more inspiration about happiness and joy, see our topical study about Joy in The Urantia Book. In it, you will find many more Jesus quotes about joy. Here's a nice one to get you started. Be of good cheer! :
137:8.14 "I have come to preach the glad tidings of the kingdom. I have not come to add to the heavy burdens of those who would enter this kingdom. I proclaim the new and better way, and those who are able to enter the coming kingdom shall enjoy the divine rest. And whatever it shall cost you in the things of the world, no matter what price you may pay to enter the kingdom of heaven, you shall receive manifold more of joy and spiritual progress in this world, and in the age to come eternal life.