Saturday, February 16, 2019

Place of Endurance in Happiness

Happiness has been the goal of life for many generations.  Psychiatrists and psychologists of course, and also popular novelists, scientists of the mind, in their own way repeat this teaching. So begins an article in the Kyeongyang magazine on the virtue of patience by a psychiatrist. He looks at the Korean culture and comes to some interesting conclusions on happiness.

On the bestseller lists are a great many books with the psychology of happiness included in the subject matter. Religion also has this as a subject. Even sermons treat the subject psychologically, flavored at the end with some Scriptural quotes.

We all want to be happy. Is this not our true self? Consequently, we have to have it at all costs.The world's thinking is that you have to be happy to succeed and not happy because you succeeded. So the efforts to smile at our pain and failures to cover over our unhappiness. It's like spitting out food that we don't like. We have an obsession to find happiness

Patience in the past was an important virtue. Happiness until recently was not mentioned that often. It was rather something that happened when one received an unexpected good fortune. But recently the sphere has greatly expanded: bodily pleasure, mental joy, respect in society, financial security, relief from pain,  all clumsily wrapped up into one.

In the past patience was considered necessary to endure the difficulties of life. This was like bitter medicine we had to swallow. The medical profession unless it was some very serious mental problem did not think small unhappinesses were a matter for medical concern, but temperance and patience were in order.

This was true in the religious world also. Confessing our sins, self-denial, prayer, meditation were necessary to find answers to our problems. One was expected to refrain from many of the pleasures of life, since difficulties were part of life. We did not desire excessive recognition by the world or material wealth. Happiness was not the goal of life but rather often considered a temptation.

The psychology of happiness now becomes center stage as a new industry. We are much better off than our ancestors, securer, freer, but also a greater thirst for happiness—we want more comfort, wealth, and freedom.

Clergy who recommend patience are not popular. Since demand requires supply— are not religious organization now the agencies that supply happiness?

In Korea we have the new word heard often: YOLO the abbreviation for You Only Live Once so eat and be merry.  St. Paul said the same thing in I Cor. 15:32: "But if the dead are not raised to life, then, as the saying goes: Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we will die." He also in Rom. 5:3-4: "We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God's approval, and his approval creates hope."

Happiness for a Christian is not an object of search, a pursuit, it's a by-product of a well-lived life the results of living the life of virtue.