無謂地追求快樂

By Robert D. Foster

在每年一度的全國人民大會上,中國總理命令官員們要下決心努力「使人民快樂」。快樂已變成那強大國家之官員的一個空洞字眼、新的口號,取代了最近大家喜歡用的「和諧」。

「快樂、快樂、快樂。」在一個超過13億人口的國家,它的人民聲稱有敏銳的眼光可看出政治宣傳運動是否虛偽,這時刻快樂似乎是唯一不算虛偽的詞。但我想知道:糧食問題呢?房屋呢?乾淨水源呢?教育呢?

幾年前我在一本暢銷的英國雜誌讀到以下的敘述:「快樂是生活中唯一無法靠尋求而得到的。若我們追求知識,我們可以努力去研讀;若我們追求權力,這是有可能獲得的,我們可以運用各種方法去得到我們羨慕的權勢。若我們有足夠的毅力與決心,生活中大部份的事物都可得到。」

然而,那篇文章的作者指出,快樂與其他的事物不同。它無法靠努力追求而獲得。

在我九十多年的生活經驗中,我有機會與世界上許多地方的人互動,我觀察到那些想要快樂的人,大多數都變得沮喪且不滿足。快樂(Happiness)就如它英文字面的意思,完全要靠發生的事(happenings),而會發生什麼事常常是我們完全無法操控的。

不僅在中國,在全球各地,我發現男人、女人甚至小孩都不停地追求快樂,這意味著他們的心態隨時準備要回應所發生的事。這在社會的每個層面都是如此,包括工商專業界,在其中情況會瞬間劇烈變化,絕望可能就代替了快樂。

面對這樣的實際狀態,我們應該要了解有另一個很棒且更好的東西:喜樂

作者凱倫.冕茵絲提供了這個真知灼見:「喜樂不隨著生活的高潮低潮而變動。喜樂存在於我的環境之上。喜樂是內在的歡喜且幸福的狀態,同時也有豐富、充滿活力的外在表現。」她提醒我們喜樂是無法被製造的;喜樂無法被你召喚來;喜樂也不會聽從你的要求。

以下的敘述清楚地區別長久喜樂與短暫快樂:「喜樂是內心的歡唱,那是外在困苦環境所無法抑制的。」

最後,如冕茵絲女士指出,喜樂是與上帝有健全且日漸親密關係的副產品。她寫道:「我們必須扎根在上帝裡面。我們必須更多敬拜父神,在我們每天的生活中更像基督,並且更順服聖靈。」

這就是為什麼聖經清楚地宣稱:「聖靈所結的果子,就是…喜樂」(加拉太書5章22節)。每天快樂都會來來去去。但即使在工作場所中,即使在患難中,真正的喜樂都能夠長存。

本文改編自「週一早晨觀點」,這是一系列由羅勃.符思特所寫的默想文章。他不收費,鼓勵人們複製,只要註明出處即可。若有任何問題或評論,請寫信到29555 Goose Creek Rd, Sedalia, CO 80135, U.S.A.或傳真 (303) 647-2315。符思特先生最近剛慶祝他91歲生日。就像他的勸勉,他每一天都繼續「抓住這一天!」

思想 / 討論題目
你如何定義「快樂」?你要擁有什麼才覺得快樂? 本文作者說:「快樂是生活中唯一無法靠尋求而得到的。」你是否同意?為什麼? 你對快樂與喜樂的區別有何看法?若你必須選擇其中一項,你會選擇哪一個?請解釋。 本篇「週一嗎哪」的結論之一是真正的喜樂來自與上帝的關係。你對這結論有何看法?若你想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
詩篇126篇5-6節;以賽亞書61章10節;羅馬書5章2-5節;腓立比書2章2-4節;雅各書1章2-4節

THE POINTLESS PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

By Robert D. Foster

At the annual National People’s Congress, the prime minister of China ordered officials to make a determined, concentrated effort to "make people happy." HAPPY has become a buzzword, the new rallying cry, for bureaucrats in that vast, powerful nation, displacing the most recent favorite: "harmony."

"Happy, happy, happy." That seems to have become the only word that counts at the moment in a country with over 1.3 billion people who purportedly have "a keen eye for the hollowness of propaganda campaigns." But I wonder: What about food? Or housing? Or clean water? Or education?

Years ago I read the following statement in a popular British magazine: “Happiness is the one quality in life which can never be found by seeking. If we quest for knowledge, we can apply ourselves to study; if we quest for power, it is possible, in a variety of ways, to obtain that coveted possession. Most things in life may be found IF we seek with sufficient persistence and determination.”

As the writer of the magazine article pointed out, however, that is not the case with happiness. It cannot be acquired and possessed by relentless pursuit.

In my more than nine decades of experience in life, having the opportunity to interact with people in many parts of the world, it has been my observation that the people who are trying to be happy are, for the most part, depressed and dissatisfied. Happiness, as the very word itself suggests, depends ultimately on happenings – things that happen – which many times are totally beyond our control.

Not only in China, but also everywhere around the globe, we find men, women and even children in the perpetual quest of happiness, which means their state of mind is conditioned upon responding to what happens. This is true in every segment of society, including the business and professional world where circumstances can shift dramatically in an instant, displacing happiness with despair.

Faced with this reality, it is important to realize there is a wonderful, much better alterative: JOY.

Author Karen Mains offers this insight: "Joy doesn’t fluctuate with the ups and downs of life. Joy rises above my circumstances. Joy is a state of inner gladness and well-being as well as its exuberant outward expressions." She reminds us that joy cannot be manufactured; joy cannot be summoned; joy cannot be demanded.

Here is a description that clearly distinguishes lasting joy from temporary happiness: “Joy is an inward singing which cannot be silenced by outward negative circumstances.”

Ultimately, as Ms. Mains points out, joy is a byproduct of a healthy, growing relationship with God. She writes: "We must root ourselves in the Godhead. We must increase our worship of the Father, identify more the presence of Christ in our everyday living, and become increasingly obedient to the Holy Spirit."

This is why the Bible makes this simple declaration: "The fruit of the Spirit is joy" (Galatians 5:22). In a typical day, happiness can come and go. But even in the workplace, true joy can endure even adversity.

Taken and adapted from Take Two on Monday Morning, written by Robert D. Foster. Permission to reproduce with proper credit is freely given and encouraged. For questions or comments, write: 29555 Goose Creek Rd, Sedalia, CO 80135, U.S.A., or fax (303) 647-2315. Mr. Foster recently celebrated his 91st birthday. He continues to “seize the day” on a daily basis.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
How would you define happiness? What do you require to feel happy? Mr. Foster includes the statement that, “Happiness is the one quality in life which can never be found by seeking.” Do you agree? Why or why not? What is your reaction to the distinction between made between happiness and joy? If you had to choose one or the other, which would you rather have? Explain your answer. One of the conclusions of this “Monday Manna” is that true joy ultimately comes out of relationship with God. What are your thoughts about that?If you would like to consider other Bible passages that relate to this topic, look up the following:
Psalm 126:5-6; Isaiah 61:10; Romans 5:2-5; Philippians 2:2-4; James 1:2-4

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