Friday, December 11, 2009

Happiness and Fun (Are Not Related)

According to theologian Dennis Prager, "Fun and happiness have nothing in common."

He points out that rich and beautiful people like Hollywood stars get to have loads of fun--luxurious vacations, expensive toys, elite parties--but yet many admit to having great depression, loneliness and emptiness. In short, they are not happy. What should have brought them joy instead left them high and dry.

I read one book about Princess Di (written by her former butler) and the depths of her unhappiness astounded me. Don't little girls everywhere dream of being a real princess? My youngest daughter sure does. But it is obvious that being royalty is not a shortcut to happiness, any more than other types of celebrity. (Sarah Ferguson would agree!)

So if money, beauty, fame and fortune--even royalty--do not bring happiness, what does?

Things that involve "considerable pain," says Prager. "Marriage, raising children, helping others, personal achievement"--things that take time, commitment, and come with a cost. These are the things in life that truly bring happiness--not the bells and whistles.

The good news is that you don't have to worry about the people who seem to have "all the fun." Beyond a basic need for rest and relaxation, having fun just doesn't hold water for us emotionally. It's like the broken cisterns the people in Isaiah's time carved for themselves, only to discover they leaked. They were trying to fill themselves up apart from God, but their "cisterns" didn't hold water then, and they won't for us, either.

God's solution is to come to him for his water, what he calls "living water." It satisfies. It brings happiness. It may lead us down a tough path involving pain and self-sacrifice, but we'll be all the better for it.

I'll take the living water anyday. And I can commit myself to spending time on the really important, though painful things in life, for they are the ones that give back a real reward.

Besides, the next time your kids want to go to Disney, you can just read them this post. Fun doesn't bring happiness. (HA! Kidding.)

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