Legend has it that when John Lennon was in elementary school, his teacher asked the class, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Each student stood up and gave their answer. “I want to be a doctor,” “I want to be teacher,” “I want to be an engineer,” etc.

When it came to John Lennon’s turn, he stood up and said, “I want to be happy.” The teacher smiled and said, “John, I am asking what you want to be when you grow up.” John repeated, “I want to be happy.”

Then the teachers looked at John, wondering how she could make her question more understandable to a child his age, and said, “John, you don’t understand my question.” John said, “Oh, yes, I do. You just don’t understand my answer.”

Maybe that was why he later moved to the United States, the land of “the pursuit of happiness.” Sadly, he was later murdered by an unhappy American.

Happiness has been under attack since the beginning of the human race. Abel was a happy man, he loved God, and God loved him. His brother Cain became jealous and murdered him. The first murder case recorded in human history was about an unhappy man killing a happy man. It has been repeated throughout history.

We live in a society where it is safer to be sad than happy. If you are a sad person, people will huddle around you to help you. If you are a happy person, you are likely make more enemies than friends. There are many unhappy people around that want to tear you down to ease their pain of unhappiness.

As a result, you learn to tone down your happiness to avoid jealousy. Worse yet, you learn to whine about various issues so that people can come to comfort you and support you.

Subconciously, you have been conditioned to believe that you make more friends and receive more care by being whiny. As the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” As a result, we built a sad society.

The danger of unhappiness is sabotage. An unhappy person would sabotage themselves and others. They would sabotage their success, their marriage, and their relationship with family and friends.

The reason I am so interested in the pursuit of happiness is that I lost my happiness since I was three years old when I was taken away from my parents and raised in a dysfunctional environment. As a result, I have had my share of sabotaging—my success, my relationships, and my own life. Thank God that I did not reach the point of no return.

Later, I found out that I am not alone. How happy are the Americans today? How successful are Americans in the pursuit of happiness? Do you know that today, the Science of Happiness or Positive Psychology has become a college course and a research category in many major universities? In fact, I am currently taking a course offered by Yale University online, the Science of Well-being.

Having done research on happiness for decades, I have my own theory of happiness that works for me and for those who I shared with, but I want to find out what these major institutions are teaching. So, I am taking these courses as part of my continuing education.

Look at the enrollment. It is approaching 3 million people. It is currently the most popular class ever. What does this tell you? It tells you that our world is hungry for happiness more than ever before.

The question is, can these universities truly fill the hunger and quench the thirst for happiness? According to the professor, they are still experimenting with it.

I hope the Science of Happiness, combined with my Spirituality of Happiness that I have researched, developed, and taught over the decades, enrich my teaching and benefit you even more.

Our happiness is not only being attacked by people, but also by nature, or natural disasters. I heard in the news yesterday that, half a year after COVID-19 hit America, a quarter of young adults in the country have reported suicidal. That is more than double the pre-COVID-19 rate of 11%.

The reason I decided to speak on the Happiness Formation series is that it has become urgent that we need a working strategy for the pursuit of happiness more than ever before.

Our founding fathers wanted this land to fulfill the God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but how are we doing today?

According to the 2019 report of the World Health Organization (WHO), the top ten countries with the highest rate of depression and anxiety are:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. United States
  4. Brazil
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Russia
  7. Indonesia
  8. Nigeria
  9. Pakistan
  10. Iran

Are you surprised by what you see on this list?  The United States is not only on the list but top three next to China and India?

Benjamin Franklin would be weeping to see this statistic. We know that Ben Franklin was a very happy man, and I believe he was responsible for the inclusion of the line: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence.

However, I would blame him for not defining happiness for us, leaving us wondering what it is and how to pursue it.

In recent years, I have come across many documentaries about happiness and the pursuit of it. In one of them, the reporter went about asking what people thought happiness was. Everyone gave a different definition.

After decades of research, I have concluded that the reason people are not happy is because of two reasons: they have a wrong definition of happiness, and they try to find it in the wrong places.

Let’s look at the top three most depressed countries and find out what cannot provide happiness in general:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. United States

China being the top depressed country indicates that communism and socialism cannot make you happy. Even the acclaimed Confucian philosophy cannot make you happy.

India is the symbol of many religions and numerous idols. It means religion and idolatry cannot make you happy.

The United States is a model for democracy and freedom. It indicates that democracy and freedom cannot make you happy. She also symbolizes material wealth and prosperity, but they do not make you happy.

We can safely conclude that politics and policies cannot make you happy. However, politics and policies are among the biggest idolatries of many Americans. Freedom cannot make you happy, even though it gives you the opportunity to pursue happiness.

King David had everything—power, prestige, possession, and pleasure. A great warrior and an outstanding artist, he had written the most beautiful Psalms that billions of people over thousands of years have read and recited. However, he found happiness in none of his accomplishments.

Where did he find it ultimately? He wrote,

 “You (God) show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore
.” (Ps. 16:11) 

You need to memorize this verse because it tells you where to find happiness. In God’s presence, the ultimate happiness resides. The “right hand” is David’s poetic depiction of God’s power. So in God’s presence and power, complete and lasting happiness is found.

That’s why Jesus said that the top priority of our life is to seek the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the presence of God, and Jesus wants you to enjoy full and lasting happiness there.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33).

It means everything you need will be provided, and every problem you have will be solved if you find the kingdom of God. Where is the kingdom of God? Paul said,

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17).

The kingdom of God is a matter of being in the Holy Spirit. Then how do you know you are in the Holy Spirit? You bear the fruit of the Spirit. What is the fruit of the Spirit?

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Ga 5:22–23).

I have carefully analyzed the original Greek words for these nine elements of the fruit of the Spirit and formulated the definition of happiness using the very word HAPPINESS as the acrostic.

  1. Harmony
  2. Attitude
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Integrity
  6. Nobility
  7. Earnestness
  8. Suppleness
  9. Self-control

Let us look at how each of them contributes to your happiness.

1. Harmony:

Where there is no harmony, there is no happiness. When I looked back in my life, the unhappy times are mostly the time when I was in a broken relationship with my family or friends. The secret to harmony is love. There are only two harmonious relationships to maintain in order to be happy—love God and love people, nothing more, and nothing less.

2. Attitude:

Life is full of adversities, and your attitude determines how you handle the ups and downs in life. A positive attitude makes adversity easier to endure and overcome. The secret to switching on a positive attitude is gratitude. When you are down, count the blessings, and you will see your attitude change, and your happiness restored. According to the psychologists, the attitude of gratitude is the healthiest emotion.

3. Peace:

Keeping peace does not only give yourself a sense of serenity but also disarm others from attacking you. Peace is like a mirror that reflects the image of the person that looks at you and reveals their flaws. Peace can teach louder than words. It reconciles relationships and restores happiness.

4. Patience:

A short-fused person cannot enjoy long happiness. Patience comes from hope—believing that what your expectations of a person or a situation will come true in due time. Trusting that “all things work together for the good of those who love God” will allow you to maintain happiness even when things have not yet met your expectations.

5. Integrity:

Most people think integrity just means honesty, but it is more than that. It is the “integratedness” of your body, mind, and Spirit (action, thoughts, and beliefs). That means how you act, what you think, and what you believe must be congruent. Integrity and congruency allow you to maintain happiness.

6. Nobility:

Nobility is expressed in grace, mercy, and generosity. Remember that you are a child of God and you belong to the highest royal family, so act accordingly. When you have a self-image of nobility, you act nobly. Your deeds of grace, mercy, and generosity bring happiness back to you.

7. Earnestness:

An earnest person means every word they say and say every word they mean. They keep their promises and finish their projects. They are promise keepers. Earnestness leads to fulfillment, and fulfillment brings you happiness.

8. Suppleness:

A living organism is soft and supple, but a dead one is hard and stiff. Keep your body, mind, and Spirit soft and supple to enjoy happiness. Being supple is being humble and adaptive to the ever-changing world. A stiff and stubborn person loses their happiness when the situation changes.

9. Self-control:

Another word for self is ego. So, self-control is being able to control your ego. The Bible uses the word “flesh” to represent the ego. Our flesh has desires for possession, power, prestige, and pleasure. They are like sugar carbohydrates that give you temporary energy but not long-term health and wellbeing. When you can control the desire of your flesh, you can maintain happiness both for now and for the future.

There you have it! By being mindful of these nine fruits of the Spirit, you know you are at the presence of God, and your path will be enlightened. You will be able to say as King David said,

You (God) show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore
.” (Ps. 16:11) 

Start with the next message, we will go through each element in-depth because the Bible has a lot to teach us about them. I call them Spiritual Muscles. The more we tone them, the happier we become.

There is a misconception that once happiness if found, you own it. The truth is, happiness does not come without efforts. Based on the original language, the NRSV translation of Matthew 6:33 is more precise,

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Mt 6:33 NRSV).

Notice it says “strive” not “seek.” Seeking makes you think, you find it, and you have it, but striving implies effort. The pursuit of happiness takes some striving, just like going to the gym and toning your muscles regularly. You need to work out your happiness.

That is why I call this series: Happiness Formation. Your happiness has to be formed. As these spiritual muscles are formed, you will not only be able to maintain your own happiness but become a happiness warrior to make this suffering world a happier place to live.

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one. (John Lennon)

Since we started with John Lennon, we end with John Lennon. This song is against religions, but it is not against the teachings of Jesus Christ because it is Jesus’ dream that this world will become one under his sacrificial love and leadership. “Every knee shall bow, and every tong shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord.” (Phil 2:10-11).

However, I am warning you. You will be hated by unhappy religious people for spreading the message of happiness, just as Jesus was crucified by the unhappy religious leaders, and also just as his disciples who were persecuted for being Happiness Warriors.

You must decide whether you want to please God or please people—strive for the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the world.

The world is sad and suffering. I hope you will join the dreamer Jesus Christ to spread the good news of the gospel and bring hope and happiness to the helpless and hurting world.

May God bless you with never-ending happiness. Amen!


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