Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Does religion or lifestyle make you happy?

A movement called Action for Happiness launched today. Apparently Britain is glum, cynical and sarcastic (you don't say) and we all need our spirits lifted. One of the founders told Mark Easton that it is needed because of the failure of organised religion to turn back the "tide of narrow individualism".

So how will Action for Happiness achieve what religion has failed to do? With a list of rules of course - the "ten keys to happiness"! Here's what you have to do to be happy:

So, instead of expecting religion to cheer you up, you can do it by yourself - by adopting this new way of life! And what kind of lifestyle is this exactly? Hmm? To me it looks suspiciously religious.

So will it work? It will work just like a shopping spree, a stuffed-crust pizza and a chick flick: satisfying for a short while, but not lastingly and not deeply. Think about how you'd approach the last five keys on the list:

Direction - I am trying to bring happiness to make the world better

Resilience - In tough times I'll just grin and bear it

Emotion - I'll always have a positive approach, even if it's against my nature

Acceptance - I am comfortable with who I am, because this organisation says I should be

Meaning - I find my purpose in trying to make people happy

And now compare an approach to the same keys, but from someone who knows Christ:

Direction - I am following Jesus because He is my Lord

Resilience - In tough times God is my rock and foundation. In my weakness He is strong

Emotion - I'll always celebrate the fact that Jesus has washed my sin away and adopted me as God's own child

Acceptance - I am comfortable with who I am because God loves me as I am

Meaning - I find my purpose in the destiny of an eternal God

The top five on the list are more active - things you should do. Again, there is a massive difference between the Action for Happiness and the Christian approaches:

AfH - do all these things because then you will be happier

Christian - meet Jesus and you'll want to do all these things

Action for Happiness tells us that we can achieve happiness, we can earn grace. It sets up a religious lifestyle for us to follow. Jesus chucks out grace free of charge, He can do things in my life that are impossible to achieve on my own. This makes me very happy :)

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