Can Money Buy Happiness? You would expect me to say no. But lately a great deal of economic and sociological research suggests otherwise. It looks like those who have money tend to be happier. But before you throw up your hands in generosity fatigue, let me point out a few remarkably biblical principles that they are finding as they dig deeper into this relationship between more and happiness. (This points are from this WSJ article MONEY.)
1. Those who accumulate experiences are happier than those who just accumulate stuff. In a blog post, Mark Batterson wrote,
I have a core conviction. Actually, it’s more than that. It was a word from the Lord. I’ll never forget the Holy Spirit whispering this to me in a pup tent in Awash National Park (Ethiopia) at the end of an unforgettable day that included a game drive. I heard the Still Small Voice loud and clear: “Don’t accumulate possessions. Accumulate experiences.” That has become a guiding theme in my life. So here’s my random thought. And I think this is for someone. Don’t just give possessions that will rust and break and end up in a toy box. Give the gift of experience. Not sure how that translates into your context. But it might be worth investing money in an experience versus another possession.
This is a good Christmas word. If God has blessed you with the means, don’t waste your means on more stuff. Invest in an experience, invest in a future memory with your family or a friend. Make a bucket list. I think this is one of the reasons that I love taking my family on short-term missions trips. Yes it is about serving. But if you have ever gone on a mission trip, you have heard multiple times, I received so much more than I gave. I think one of the things we received is an experience the effects of which have the potential to last far longer than the soon to be obsolete Xbox.
Now you don’t have to go on a mission trip for an experience. Go sledding at Slab Cabin with your son or daughter. Take a road trip to visit the Holocaust Museum in DC. Take a train ride to Chicago and back. Do the local adopt-a-family deal and spend a few hours shopping, wrapping, and praying for a family in our community. Take some cinnamon rolls to someone in a nursing home. Ride the gliders at Julian.
2. Those who develop a gratitude attitude are happier than those who develop an entitlement attitude. Well that one is self-explanatory. If you are grateful for what you have, the more you have, the more gratitude you will experience. So take a moment and make a list.
3. Those who impact people through their generosity are happier than those who impact their comfort with their prosperity. From giving hope to a child in Myanmar to giving Christmas to a local family in need; from the launching of a journey to start 300 house churches in Myanmar to a new presence in Tyrone; from providing food to those with too much month at the end of the check to baking cookies with ladies at the county prison; from a week on the island of Hispaniola to sitting beside a friend ready to give up on life; from a college student hearing that God loves her to a recovering addict hearing that God loves him… you impact people through your generosity. It. Is. So. Cool.
This Christmas the Nolds will be happy in Myanmar. At times tired, perhaps at points broken by a hurting child, or sideswiped by poverty or lostness, but happy. We are going to hit all three of these points; accumulating an experience, impacting others through our and your generosity, and while I’m making my gratitude list, I’ll be thinking of you.
If you would like to make an impact on a one of these amazing kids, click the link MYANMAR CHRISTMAS. There’s still time to be happy. :)