During a summer sermon series, author Max Lucado stumbled upon some statistics about happiness that whet his appetite for exploring the subject — a Harris survey showing that only one in three Americans considers themselves to be happy. In light of this discovery he continued to research the topic and found several other pieces of corresponding data.
“How could this be? We’ve never lived in a more advanced culture. We’ve never lived in a society that has more technological advances, and I know we’re far from perfect … but there’s a lot of things to be grateful for,” Lucado said.
It dawned on him that the focus of his sermon series, which was on the “one another” verses in Scripture, were the “secret sauce” of happiness. He recalled the words of Jesus where he said that “it was better to give than receive” and how he had seen that to be true. As he gave, his spirit was lifted, and he was happier. A self-centered life, by contrast, yields sadness, he continued.
Asked why he thinks happiness is so hard to find, he replied: “Unique to our day and age, unique to our generation, unique especially to our society, is this literal bombardment of marketing that seeks to tell me I’m unhappy in order that I’ll make a purchase that will make me happy, which eventually does not make me happy, which disappoints me, which then makes me think I need to try all again. It’s this cycle.”
“For example, I didn’t know that I should be self-conscious about having a bald spot until the television commercial told me I shouldn’t have a bald spot,” the author said, receiving laughs from the crowd.
“The counterintuitive message of Christ is that happiness happens not when you accumulate but when you share. Happiness happens not when you have more, but when you give more. The true, lasting happiness that no one can take away from you happens when you give it away.”
He defined happiness as a “deeply rooted sense of contentment that does not depend upon circumstances.”
Joining the conversation, author John Maxwell argued that there is a difference between success and significance. Success is about what one has done and accomplished. Significance is about others. “It’s impossible to be selfish and significant at the same time,” Maxwell said, adding that it is impossible to be happy and selfish simultaneously.
“I think God wants us to be happy,” Lucado said. “I think we have a moral obligation to be happy. The church has a much better testimony if they are people of contagious kindness.”
“In the healthiest of homes there are five positive comments for every negative one,” he noted. “If you want to encourage somebody you are taking on a divine role their lives. The best way to be encouraged is to give encouragement. You want to be happy tomorrow? Make somebody happy today.”