The price of happiness

The observable moments of happiness for any human being can be founds in childhood. Apparently, such moments of happiness diminish, as the child grows into adulthood. Some children are robbed of their happiness by abusive parents or guardians. However, whether robbed of happiness during adolescence or not, real happiness remains enigmatic to most people.

It is, therefore, necessary to illustrate true happiness, showing how to achieve it. Those engaging in drugs, desire happiness. Prostitution is also driven by the same desire to be happy. Corruption and many other undesirable activities are caused by desiring to be happy in this life. The reader would first need to be disabused of the notion that happiness comes from acquisitions.

Some boarding School children may pressurize their parents to buy groceries, meant to impress other children. Such children may appear happy when being envied by others. But they remain unhappy, inwardly, when surrounded by friends with parents unable to provide as much. The have-nots’ in that environment may even entertain the idea of stealing.

Those children, whose parents are able to provide, appear happier than the ones whose parents are unable to provide. The talented children, in some sport or other commendable activities, appear as happier, also. But all such display of happiness has got some limitations in this life. Quite often, some unforeseen circumstances can change, causing the reversal of such happiness. Just as good fortunes may also visit the apparently unprivileged ones.

There may have been some young people envying Robert Mugabe’s children, for their apparent privileged life-styles? In as much as those boys appear as living comfortable lives, stories about their engagement in drugs, question such happiness. There is no happiness in drugs and alcoholism. If those boys were to open up, they may probably reveal being most unhappy in this life.

A Smile Can Change Someones Day text

Achieving goals and making good and honest money, does give temporary happiness. The limiting factor, as reducing happiness to fleeting moments, is physical health.  Even the Bill Gates of our time, know that there comes a time that they would be no more. The only interesting thing about death is that it is the only denominator that levels the equality of humanity.

The only way that leads to happiness opposes the aim at happiness, but aiming at making other people happy. This is an axiom that is as true as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow. Such a person may be treated badly by those of this world. But there is no other happier person than the one who aims at making other people happy, in this life.

The illusion of happiness is mostly found among those engaging in marriage, for instance. This is as I have heard many young people declaring “Once bitten, twice shy.” This would be a result of having gone through bad experiences in their marital engagements. But why is marriage appearing as trickiest, among those desiring happiness in this life?

Dissecting this problem is necessary, before, helping those currently intending to marry their loved ones. People engage in marriage for different reasons. One may desire to marry for purposes of enjoying sex. Opposed to the one marrying for the purpose of having children. Others marry for purposes of ostentation and being treated with the material things of this world.

However, others simply desire to raise families and be able to impart values to their offspring. They simply engage in marriage, desiring to impart common values and responsibilities. There is a possibility to attain temporary happiness, as long as one finds a spouse who agrees with one, on each of those aspirations.

If equally enjoying sex, that couple is associated with a blissful marital relationship—as long as matching each other, sexually. Problems arise, only where the other spouse is sexually more demanding than the other. How do you make the other spouse match the level, as demanded of the other spouse?

Matters of infidelity are often caused by this reality. I, personally, find it wrong to judge either of the two lovers, for either impotency or for demanding too much sex. Blaming one for desiring too much sex, or the other for not desiring much of it, cannot be right. The only problem may have been caused by not telling each other the truth, before marriage.

The same applies to other causes of incompatibility, whose manifestation, can only be addressed by good understanding. But, as stated earlier, no-one can be unhappy when seeking to make the other person happier. An impotent person may need to work harder, aiming at satisfying the lover in bed. Alternatively, he/she may have to forgo sexual passions for the sack of the other.

Others may declare that it is impossible to forgo sexual passions. The sexual drive can be too strong for some people—based on ignorance. It is true that God created sex. But it is not true that sex is more important than human beings. It can only be a question of focus, towards what one puts attention on.

This cannot be a problem to those having discovered their true identity as God’s children. The life of Jesus is standard for those aiming at true happiness. Jesus never got married and did not encourage His disciples to marry. A Christian becomes a new creation at conversion. His/her attention is no longer obsessed with physical matters.

Sexual passion or any other passion of this world causes a person to be entrapped into the physical universe. This is why in Biblical stories the decadence of the Israelites was measured by sexual degradation. A person who cannot control sexual desires is controlled by sexual desires. Like any other sinful conduct, as long as unable to control one’s sexual desires, one would be headed towards demise.

Sex appears as providing the greatest challenges for ordinary Christians, assumed as leading new lives, as God’s children. The goodness of sex lies, only in one’s ability to control it. Those having become converted can control sex. The early apostles, having been created anew, did not have time for sex, even with their own wives. See [Is the uniqueness of Jesus different from ours?].

“Now for the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (1 Corinthians 7:1-7) (NIV).

Sexual sin was one of the greatest problems with the Corinthian Church. Paul was at pains trying to convince them of how futile sexual passion was. He even advocated for celibacy. But the problem of sexual passion can only be overcome by focus. Paul was preoccupied with the dissemination of the gospel, more than thinking about sexual passions.

As to whether he succeeded in persuading those Corinthians to relegate sexual passions, in favor of Christian principles, is not shown. But a true Christian is the one no longer obsessed with the sexual passions, or anything of this world. A mentally balanced person cannot put his attention on less valuable things, at the expense of what would be more valuable.

This is just as there are those spending most of their time accumulating wealth. It can be difficult to persuade a person focused on wealth accumulation to appreciate the futility of such commitments. Jesus confirmed this reality. Illustrating it by the impossibility of a camel to enter through the eye of a needle, for rich people to appreciate such teachings (Matthew 19:23-24)

One can live happily, in this life, whether by enjoying sexual activities or accumulating wealth. But such a lifestyle is as temporary as anything physical is temporary. Because of its temporary nature, such a lifestyle is impossible to sustain. The person becomes constantly worried about losing everything through death or any other fate.

Even when married to a good spouse, perfectly matching one in bed, there is some possibility of losing him/her. This is why some people commit murder or suicide, after losing their spouses, through cheating, or through death. I am reminded of the late Simon Chimbetu’s musical composition “Shanje dzandipedza mafuta.”

The cause of a jealous lover is, obviously, sexual passion. One may assume being happy in sexual passions, but the imagination of losing a lover causes a person to adopt unhappiness. The same applies to those putting too much focus on the accumulation of wealth. The imagination of losing everything can cause a business mogul to acquire somatic illnesses.

How about a brilliant footballer, unable to play anymore, due to injury? Or a talented musician coming to a point of being unable to draw fans, as much as before? All such occurrences can be most distressful for those drawing happiness in the material things of this world. The problem with physical things is their temporary nature.

The most exciting thing about human potential is eternity. The happiness attained in the things of eternal value is invaluable. Such happiness is worth forsaking everything of this world, yet acquiring more exciting things than anything of this world. The death and resurrection of Jesus describe the maximum value of the significance of the joy attained in giving.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

“The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:13-15) (NIV).

The Pharisees despised and sneered at Jesus, as they assumed that happiness was derived from the accumulation of wealth. Like most people, even in our time, they assumed that one is happier with money, rather than when sharing with others.

People need happiness, but without knowing that happiness comes, only when always aiming at causing other people to be happy. This is a hidden secret towards happiness. I wonder how such messages can be delivered to those practicing corruption in government, for instance. Just like everyone else, those people sincerely desire happiness, but not knowing how to obtain it.

The irony is that the seemingly good people, with bad wishes for fascists, are not different from such fascists. Happiness is not obtainable from wishing such characters dead. Jesus brought a principle that remains un-understandable, even to most of those calling themselves “Christians”:

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:39-45) (NIV).

Very few people appreciate this passage of Scripture as leading to true happiness. Politicians could, actually, lose support when advocating for what this Scripture recommends. But the outcome of its application is as true as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow. Those assuming that there is foolishness in loving enemies would be reflecting foolishness, themselves.

Obtaining happiness, even in this life, remains only in answering the question: Are most people glad that one lives? (Altruism). As opposed to answering the question: Is one happy that he/she lives, even though others are not happy? (Self-centeredness). Blessed are those seeing the light, regardless of their background.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the 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 relief to those having witnessed the 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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