The Secret of Happiness

"But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

I once watched a Ted talk where the speaker shared the following secret to happiness: low expectations. I could hardly believe my ears! Someone handed this man a mic and put him on stage for him to tell the world that the secret to happiness is low expectations!?

As soon as he said it the audience erupted in laughter. And I chuckled watching the rebroadcast. However, this man was serious. Yes, he drew us all in with his comedic timing, but upon further reflection his point deserves contemplation and application.

The fact is you cannot be disappointed if you don't expect anything. Think of the joy one experiences upon receipt of an unexpected gift. Or when a dear friend pays you an unexpected visit. On the other hand, think of the Christmas morning when it's time to open gifts and despite all the hints you've dropped, you open the package to find something you really don't like.  

Now, I know this low expectations counsel can be taken to extremes. If we expect nothing from our children and, consequently, they underperform academically, we shouldn't be surprised if the resulting ignoramuses we have raised are only qualified to take the jobs nobody else wants. 

I'm not talking about those kinds of low expectations. No, what I'm talking about is closer to what Paul spoke of when he said that godliness with contentment is great gain. See, the reality is that some of us have expectations that are born of a lack of contentment even when we have "enough."

We see it in children who have toys on top of toys. Yet they're always looking for something else. There is a sense of entitlement that makes them think that every time they go to the store with you, they're supposed to get a new toy. And if they don't, they're disappointed.

We adults suffer from the same disease. We have a warm, safe place to live. But we want something bigger. And when we try to move into a more spacious house in a more upscale neighborhood and the bank says no or the deal falls through, we're disappointed. 

But if we didn't expect to have everything, or the next big thing, we might actually be able to enjoy what we have. If we quit believing the illusion that we must always get the "new and improved," we may actually find a greater appreciation for the stuff presently in our possession.


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