Everyone wants to experience happiness in this life. But happiness is illusive, as most people pursue the opposite of what leads to happiness. They spend their energies on concerns that lead to unhappiness—yet dreaming that such endeavors are what leads to happiness. The saddest thing is that such people cannot even learn from past experiences, or learn from those having gone through similar experiences.
There are those claiming that it is impossible to attain happiness in this life. They keep postulates, insisting that this world is demonic and therefore making it impossible to ever achieve happiness. Obviously, it is such postulates that make it unrealistic to ever attain happiness. In vain, others hop from one country to another, in search of opportunities that provide happiness for them.
Acquisition of money and various other material possessions are assumed as providing happiness—yet contributing more to the state of misery. Happiness is a state of being—that cannot be attained or sustained materially. This sounds untrue to those all along engaged in activities, with assumption that acquisition of properties leads to happiness.
Nevertheless, a small child, without claiming ownership of anything can be used as perfect example of what happiness implies. The happiness exuded by small children is often smothered by adults—when insisting that such children should behave like grown-ups. Instead of learning how to be happy, from those little children, the adults assume being more knowledgeable of what happiness entails.
As the child grows up, he/she continues to diminish all vestiges of joy and happiness of youth—until he/she also attains the somber reality of adulthood. The cycle continues to the next generation, leading to the other. Life is considered as presenting circumstances that make it impossible for any person to ever attain happiness. The headlines from the public media is enough to convince anyone that it is impossible to attain happiness in this life.
But, some two thousand years ago, a man called Jesus presented what reverses the state of unhappiness to true happiness. He described such condition as representing God’s Kingdom. Jesus preached in parables that revealed what God’s Kingdom entailed. Such parables included the example of a little child—as enabling a person to attain God’s Kingdom:
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it’” (Mark 10:13-15) (ESV).
Having been used to stifling children’s happiness, the disciples of Jesus assumed it to be their responsibility to inhibit those children. This did not impress Jesus who knew that only the little children understood and reflected the principle of attaining happiness. He then stated: Truly, “I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15) (ESV).
There may have been a few people who understood Jesus in this allegory. This is just as there are still just a few people who understand what Jesus meant, even in our time. This is considered, when viewing the state of unhappiness that envelops the entire world. People are generally unhappy, but seem fond of pretending to be happy at all times.
They want to be associated with happiness, but striving to do those things that sustain their unhappiness. The adulthood problem is assumption that adults know better than the little children—hence, influencing children to adopt wrong tendencies. Learning from children does not necessarily imply adopting children’s irresponsible behavior. What it means is maintaining the responsibilities of adulthood, yet applying the unpretentious behavior of childhood.
Happiness is possible in this world, when aware of being conduit for happiness. That is when adopting the only two ideas—proven to be workable—when aiming at attaining true happiness, in this life. The first one consists of the ability to experience anything. The second implies causing only those things that others are able to experience easily. Let us now explore the workability of these—in our seemingly impossible, present life conditions:
- Be able to experience anything. As long as one lives with assumption of there being anything that causes apprehension, it is impossible to attain happiness. A typical axiom that can be used for comprehension, when applying this idea is: “A good horse rider is the one who has fallen many times.”
A person having experienced failure after failure is freer, than the one having maintained a clean record of successes in similar endeavors. When having experienced strings of failures, one does not despair, when experiencing yet another failure. This is not possible for the one living with the anxiety of possible failure engulfing him.
The person whose record is yet to experience failure, cannot be happy—when living with some fear of possible failure. Anxiety, actually, causes any person to avoid those things considered as daring—thereby limiting his ambitions. That person’s worry arises from desiring to avoid disappointing the ardent supporters who idolize him. Such kind of worry appears justified.
The constant adulations coming from those, impressed by his impeccable record of successes makes the person feel good. But the genuine question that often looms in such a person’s mind is: “What are those people going to say, if I fail to meet their expectations?”
The person might not even be aware of how that consideration gnaws through his state of happiness. He, therefore, remains unhappy, yet with multitudes of people admiring his past successes. The person desires to impress those admiring his successes at all times. Of course, being human—like any one—it becomes impossible to maintain a clean record of successes in everything one does.
When looked at carefully, the reason for feeling uncomfortable, after experiencing failure, is the condition of pride. The record of successes gives the person a proud feeling. Failures make him feel humiliated—thereby inviting unhappiness. Generally, humans loathe being associated with failures—leading to humility. An ordinary person commonly feels dignified, only when dominating over others.
The value of the cross was exclusively understood by Jesus—hence becoming the first human, ever to willingly experience the disgusting conditions of crucifixion. His decision to confront the cross was self-determined—resulting from His superior knowledge of its significance—in redeeming humanity. No-one else, at that time, could envy what Jesus committed Himself to do.
By submitting to the cross, Jesus did not seek to please anyone, except God. He could not have been happier, when failing to do what He knew to be God’s will. This, obviously reveals truth in that a person is happier, only when doing what pleases God—rather than what pleases other fellow humans. God’s will remains paramount, over everything else.
The primary goal of humanity is to attain eternal life—possible, only when maintaining God’s will at all times. It is impossible to attain eternal life, when entertaining things of physical nature, whose existence is temporary. All problems of humanity—as taking away their happiness—come from maintaining the will of humanity, rather than God’s will.
- Cause only those things that others are able to experience easily.
Tolerating other people’s ignorance is a sign of maturity. But this does not take away the responsibility to help the uninformed to reach their potential goal of survival. The guiding philosophy remains in that the primary goal for humanity is survival. Out of ignorance, most people pursue life-styles that are opposed to survival. It takes a knowledgeable person to show others the way towards survival. This is only possible when not overwhelming ignorant people with too much of the survival information.
The main reason for Jesus’ teaching in parables was to ensure that those not ready for the information remained in their ignorance (Mark 4:10-12). By that example, Jesus showed how imperative it is to impart knowledge on gradient scale—according to the audience’s level of understanding. To maintain the state of happiness, one seeks to fulfill the needs of other people—but without compromising on their primary goal of survival.
Doing unto others as one desires them do unto one, implies considering the needs of other people ahead of one’s own. Overwhelming ignorant people with survival information can be counter-productive. Giving impressive information does not help the unprepared audience—just as it does not help the supplier of that information. Happiness is possible, only when others joyfully appreciate what they receive from the benefactor.
Other fellows are just as important as the person sharing such valuable information. When Jesus committed Himself to heal the sick and the lame, He considered causing only those things that His audience could experience easily. The gospel information was, obviously, more important. But the need to be healed and being fed, is what those people could experience easily. Doing what benefits other people is the starting point in delivering the gospel.
Those people needed survival, but they did not know the way to survival. Without first overwhelming them with information leading to ultimate eternal survival, people need rescue from poverty, and other common troubles of current survival. The name of Jesus can be important, for them, but their primary need is food and other basic necessities.
This is what being wise as serpent, yet being harmless as doves entails (Matthew 10:16). Everyone wants to survive. But most people take comfort in pursuing activities that lead to the opposite of what survival entails. When considering their interests, ahead of the preacher’s interests, it appeals for letting them continue in their ignorance.
However, when blessed with knowledge that could help them out of such misery, one does well when first giving what they can experience easily. Food and other basic survival necessities comprised what Jesus’ audience could experience easily. Indeed, preaching the gospel is not easy; and was never intended to be easy. If it was easy, then Jesus could not have died on the cross. The early apostles could also not have been killed.
The iniquitous conditions in the entire world, would have long been a thing of the past. The most important aspect to remember, is that it cannot be possible for a true Christian to be happy when other people grope in sinfulness. As humans, we interact with one another and getting affected by other people’s wrong-doing. It is, therefore, a grand irresponsibility to ignore what happens around us—yet assuming to be happy.
A knowledgeable person assumes the responsibility to experience anything—as long as intended to bring survival to humanity. The reason why a person focuses on human survival is that his own survival is impossible when other fellow humans wallow in ignorance. This is just as an individual cannot do anything when one of his body limbs is hurting.
The other body limbs may be in good shape. But, as long as one of those limbs is in pain, the entire body would be in sickly condition. Humanity was created to maintain unity, just as Godliness is oneness. But, unfortunately, humanity thinks individually, thereby, making it impossible to attain happiness, as individuals. All humans need happiness—yet doing the opposite of what brings happiness.
Such behavior is a result of ignorance—which is the opposite of what is portrayed by those privileged with knowledge. Willingness to experience anything is the virtue that makes any person attain happiness. The fear of pain is caused by not knowing that the end of physical life is not, necessarily, the end of survival. This life is as temporary as the mist that comes—but for a short while. Jesus is known to be the only individual having achieved the reality of eternity.
Jesus revealed how this physical life cannot sustain eternity, because He lives. The privileged ones—having become knowledgeable of this reality—have achieved happiness. Nevertheless, such people carry the responsibility to share such good news with others. They, however, avoid violating the principle of doing unto others as one would like them do unto him.
Jesus remains still in charge, just as He was in charge in the first century. He exists in the lives of believers. It takes only those believers to allow Him to do His work, through their lives. This is possible when 1) Being willing to experience anything, as long as advancing the gospel. 2) Causing only those things that others are able to experience easily. These two are the only principles that project light, which the true Christians are expected to portray, as was instructed by Jesus.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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