I’m reading a fascinating book called The Psychology of Money. One passage makes an important point:
“The most powerful common denominator of happiness [is] simple....Having a strong sense of controlling one’s life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered.”
Part of the American ethos is that we can change our stars. We can take control of our lives and become what we want despite where we started or the forces ranged against us. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, but we love the stories about the person who comes from nowhere to found a business or become a famous actor. I love this part of American culture.
Yet I’ve been reflecting on how many things happen that are out of our control. A car just blew a red light and drove right in front of me. It was only luck (or Providence) that I was looking in that direction and had enough time to take evasive action. So many other parts of our lives are like that: You can eat well, exercise, and meditate, and still get cancer; you can work your hardest and still have your marriage fail; you can do an amazing job at work and still be passed over for a promotion.
In only one area of our lives do we have 100% chance of success, and that’s our spiritual lives. If we choose to turn to the Lord, shun evils as sins and serve others, we are absolutely guaranteed to become kind, loving people. We can be sure of the presence of the Lord and the angels guiding our lives. We can rest in the knowledge that our souls are being filled with peace and hope, whatever we may experience on a lower level. Happiness is guaranteed.
There are other areas where we have a high degree of confidence that we will be successful, but I would suggest that our certainty in those areas springs primarily from the fact that the people involved are living intentional spiritual lives. For instance, I have almost certain confidence in the success and safety of my marriage largely because I see my wife turning to the Lord and because I’m trying to also.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:3-4)