Money CAN Buy Happiness… That’s the Problem!

13 Dec

I’m sure you’ve heard that “Money can’t buy happiness.”  Today, I’m going counter-culture and proclaiming that money CAN buy happiness… and that’s a big problem!

I realize I’m going against some giants here, to include the wisest man in human history.  If ever there was one who knew about money and happiness (and the lack thereof), it was King Solomon:

“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (Eccl 5:10 NLT)

And there’s the catch, courtesy of the wisest of Kings.  Money can’t buy true happiness… it buys temporary happiness.

Why is that a problem?  Because temporary happiness is like an addiction.

Addictions flourish because of instant reward.  You want to be “happy?”  In modern culture, you just buy things.  We have an entire industry devoted to making us want things (it’s called advertising) and another industry intent on getting it into our hands now (it’s called credit).  And they get way more air time than messages that show us a better way that leads to the true happiness King Solomon talked about.

Do I believe advertising and credit are evil?  No, I believe they are neither good nor bad.  But I believe we have the power to use them for evil, and we do it with great regularity.

Credit Cards

Credit Cards (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Think about this common scenario: You see an advertisement that convinces you your life will be better if only you have (fill in the blank).  Perhaps it’s as expensive as a car, or as cheap as a body spray that will cause members of the opposite sex to swoon and flock to your door.  (For the record… that doesn’t work!)

The solution?  Just go buy it… now… and you’ll be happy.  Don’t have the money?  We’ll go zero down for 60 months!  (Of course, if I don’t have that money now, what makes me think I’ll have it in 60 months?  Who can predict the future?)

And the funny thing is… we ARE happy.  At least until the next commercial comes along, and there’s something newer… faster… better.  The solution?  Go buy it… now… and so the cycle begins.

It’s not a far cry to call this an addiction.  We are happiness addicts.  But carry any addiction too far and you will quickly see the destructive tendencies of addiction:  the singular focus to acquire… the lack of responsibility in others areas of our lives… the denial that we have a problem.

So we drain in order to feel filled.  We drain:
– our bank accounts
– our relationships
– our very souls

Do you know what money can’t buy?  


Why should I care?  Because contentment can break the powerful, addictive cycle of instant happiness.  Contentment brings peace and order.

Addiction drains… contentment fills.

Better yet, the source of the contentment I’m talking about doesn’t depend on things.  It doesn’t depend on circumstances.  And although there are voices in the world that try to convince me that there is something newer… faster… or better, there is nothing that will ever compare to The Source of this kind of contentment.

The Apostle Paul says it this way:

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:11–13 NLT)

Though this message doesn’t get the air time that “happiness” does, we shouldn’t dismiss it.  The choice is simple: do you want a lifestyle that continually drains you?

Or a lifestyle that continually fills you?

Choose well friends!

What will you do to break the cycle of “instant happiness” in your life?  How do you stay focused on contentment over instant happiness?

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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Group Discussion


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