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A ‘New’ Key to Happiness?

July 13, 2011

The other day I read that “helping others is one of the best routes to happiness, according to many psychologists” (Psychologies, November 2010, p. 36) and I thought ‘haven’t I heard something about helping others being a good thing and the best way for us to live before’?! Oh yes, that’s right – God told us that thousands of years ago in the Bible.

Then verses such as;

“Love your neighbour as yourself.” – Mark 12:31

and

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” - John 15:12

sprang to mind and I realised that the psychologists’ research was reinforcing what God had said worked best all along, whether they realised that this was what they were doing or not. In making the world, God has set up it up in such a way that we can empirically investigate things and ‘discover’ that what He said was true all along.

But, the sad thing is that when people ‘discover’ such things, people often take the credit themselves and don’t acknowledge that it’s because of God’s wisdom that life works best as it does. This is largely because we’ve forgotten what God has said to us in the Bible and we give the glory that should rightfully go to God for making such a good, wise world (before we messed it up) to others.

For example, the same article does go on to say;

I’ve started to experience what Allan Luks in The Healing Power of Doing Good (iUniverse) calls the helper’s high – that warm glow that comes from knowing you’ve made someone’s day just a little bit better. According to evolutionary biologists, the happy high comes because co-operation is a good survival strategy.

Whilst this may be true, I believe the reason we get such a ‘high’ is deeper than this, because God made us to work together, to be selfless and loving. However, because of our nature, we often use our ‘selfless’ acts for our own benefit, for example for gaining recognition and praise, as the article goes on to say;

Of course, it’s best if the recipient acknowledges your efforts.

But despite the fact that our seemingly loving and selfless acts are often tainted by selfish motives; perhaps the ‘helper’s high’ is a little glimpse of life working as it should do, as God made it to, showing that although we often take credit for discovering how life works best as something new, it is often us discovering that what God said about life working best, is true!

I invite you to have a think about this next time you hear of ‘discoveries’ of how life works best and see if it’s actually a reinforcement of what God told us was  best for the people He’s made, in the world He’s made. Would love to hear your thoughts…

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2011 1:26 pm

    A great blog post! I definitely think many times as man discovers inherent truths in our nature we attribute it to our own intellectual savy at figuring such things out and neglect to attribute such truths to God and recognize that, really, many of these “new” findings and discoveries into man’s nature have already been written about in scripture. Our Father knows us much better than we do! He knows us inside and out, body and soul, and has figured out our inner workings already. Much insight into our psychology and nature can be discovered through reading scripture.

    Oftentimes when I’m talking to someone that is depressed and seems to look at only the negative I can’t help but think how that person would benefit in taking on some kind of volunteer activity where they could be involved interactively with others, helping them, and seeing the positive impact on others lives. God didn’t make us to be solitary creatures, we are made for fellowship, for communion with others and we are also called to be charitable, compassionate and to help others. When we do so, we fulfill much of His will for our lives and that can have a very satisfying effect on our sense of self-worth and happiness. Of course, some can go about doing acts of charity for this emotional outcome rather than simply for the opportunity to lift others up and do good in the name of Christ. But regardless of the “why” of doing good, the act of doing good is still good and eventually, I feel, hearts, regardless of their initial reasons, will become changed and softened. God has a wonderful way of working and using us to advance His Kingdom, even if some aren’t intentionally doing that on the onset and just doing it for their own sense of positivity.

    Hope that made sense! Blessings to both of you, Mike and Natalie :)

  2. July 15, 2011 11:38 pm

    Very good post, thanks for sharing! It always amuses me when psychologists “discover” something about us that God told us about thousands of years ago. I remember at the end of “The Me Decade,” in 1978, after all the books like “I’m Okay, You’re Okay,” when Karl Menninger, the “dean” of American psychologists, wrote a book called “Whatever Became of Sin?” The book’s startling thesis was that people might actually be sinful, after all. Thank you, Dr. Menninger!

  3. July 17, 2011 12:55 pm

    I think what motivates us to help other people is this deep and great love we feel from God. This love flows from God to love of self and love of others. It’s so wonderful!

    The danger you presented was the attribution of praises towards the self. I think that it happens most of the time and there’s a need to check our motivations for helping. Is it deeply rooted in love? But you know sometimes, we do it out of our own selfish reasons and God purifies them until they becomes selfless acts.

    Very good reflection Mike :) Thanks for sharing…

  4. October 5, 2011 11:06 am

    Wonderful post! Every good thing we are or do comes from the One who made us, who first loved us that we might love one another.
    I, too, find it wryly amusing that the “experts” come to their conclusions as if they were the only ones to discover something in our natures that God has told us all along. Their ignorance of God’s word is so obvious. Yet, God can take everything that is not against His plan and work it into good.
    Blessings!

  5. October 5, 2011 12:58 pm

    I wish I could see God in this the way I used to ::::::::::sigh:::::::::::: as always….XOXOXOXOXO

  6. October 5, 2011 11:57 pm

    I appreciate this post. I think that science and religious belief can live hand in hand. Maybe it’s useful to see it as the research confirming instead of discovering. If someone becomes a better person from hearing of the research, then it still serves the same end. Then at least there’s still hope.

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