By Bayo Ogunmupe
THE ultimate goal of human life is happiness. Since a man can be prosperous without being happy, the greatest good then is happiness. We are all seeking prosperity in order to be happy. But true prosperity is the ability to use God’s power to meet the needs of the people. This covers much more than finances. Money isn’t the only factor in happiness. You can have all the money and still be poverty-stricken spiritually, mentally and physically. God’s power to give happiness covers the entire spectrum of human existence. To live a happy life, your soul must prosper in all the truth of the scriptures.
Lasting happiness isn’t based solely on achievements or acquisitions. Rather like good physical health, true happiness depends on a variety of factors. Every human is unique. What makes me happy may not make you happy. Likewise, we change as we grow old. Moreover, some things are more consistently associated with happiness. For instance, happiness is linked to contentment, avoiding envy, cultivating altruism and emotional resilience.
‘‘Money is a protection,” observed King Solomon of ancient Israel. He also wrote: ‘‘A lover of silver will never be satisfied with silver, nor a lover of wealth with income. This too is vanity,” Ecclesiastes 5:10, 7:12. The point is that while man may need money to survive, we should avoid greed. The writer, King Solomon actually experimented to see whether wealth and luxury fostered true happiness.
Having amassed great wealth, Solomon built grand houses, built beautiful parks and pools and acquired numerous servants. He got whatever he wanted. These experiments made him somewhat happy. But not for the length of his life. Thus, Solomon learnt that everything was futile. ‘‘There was nothing of real value,” Solomon said: Ecclesiastes 2:11, 17, 18. The lessons he learned were that a life of self indulgence ultimately leaves you empty and unfulfilled.
Fortunately, modern studies support this ancient wisdom. An article in the Journal of Happiness studies observed that ‘‘after one’s basic needs are satisfied, additional income does little to advance one’s subjective well-being.” Indeed, findings show that increased material consumption especially at the cost of moral and spiritual values, do erode happiness. The scriptures aver: ‘‘Let your way of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things,” Hebrews 13:5.
For envy, this is defined as the painful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, accompanied by a desire to possess the same advantage. Like a malignant growth, envy can takeover one’s life and destroy one’s happiness. How might we recognize and combat envy? Psychologists observe that people tend to envy their equals in age, experience and social background. A journalist for example, may not envy a famous film star. But he might envy a more successful fellow newsman.
To recognize envy, ask yourself if you delight in a peer’s successes? Are you gleeful when your classmate fails in some way; then you are nurturing envy. Sadly, envy can poison your capacity to enjoy the good things of life, for it can snuff out feelings of gratitude for your life’s many gifts. Such tendencies are hardly conducive to happiness. You can combat envy by cultivating genuine humility and modesty which enables you to appreciate and value the abilities and the good qualities of others. ‘‘Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism,” the Bible says ‘‘but with humility consider others superior to you,” Philippians 2:3.
To gain happiness, avoid sin. When lust concedes, it brings sin and when sin grows up, it brings forth death to paraphrase a biblical aphorism. When we were young, we think we can sin and get away with it. But as we grow wiser and more mature, we know better. You will never meet a smoker who recommends his habit. Besides, you will meet few whose marriages have been shipwrecked, recommending an affair. The law of harvesting is: ‘‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” Galatians 6:7.
Happiness does not come by getting. It comes by forgetting yourself and living for others. Job, one of the richest men in the ancient world lost his health, his wealth and his family. Then an amazing thing happened. Jehovah restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. He actually got back twice what he lost, by reaching out to others instead of dwelling on his own problems. That principle still works today. God blesses you so that you can become a blessing to others. You are not supposed to be a warehouse, but a clearing house.
Our champion today is Jim Yong Kim, the Korean American physician, anthropologist and philanthropist. He has been the President of the World Bank since July 2012. He was president of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA, from 2009 to 2012. He was formerly the chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a founder and executive director of Partners In Health.
Kim was born in December 1959 in Seoul, South Korea. He moved with his parents to the U.S. at five and grew up at Iowa where his father taught dentistry at the University of Iowa.
After two years at the University of Iowa, Kim transferred to Brown University, graduating first class in 1982. He was awarded an MD at Harvard School of Medicine in 1991 and a PhD in anthropology by Harvard University in 1993. Along with four other distinguished physicians, Kim co-founded Partners In Health (PIH) in 1987. The PIH achieved remarkable progress treating hundreds of thousands of tuberculosis patients in Haiti in the 1990s.
The PIH model was expanded in Peru in 1994, its extreme success prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to embrace the model. Kim left PIH to join WHO in 2003. From post of adviser, WHO appointed Kim the director of its HIV/AIDS. Kim started as lecturer in Harvard in 1993, eventually he became a professor of medicine and an authority in tuberculosis. His quarter century career working to improve health in developing countries earned Kim the presidency of the World Bank in 2012. Kim was named the world’s 50th most powerful person by Forbes magazine in 2013. He is married to Younsook Lim, a pediatrician. They have two sons.