The short answer: There is no connection between prosperity and happiness. At least not like we may think. If there is a connection, it tends to be a negative one.
In a fifty-year span (1950-2000), our economy grew six-fold. Even when we adjust for inflation, we make twice as much as we would have in 1950, but research indicates we’re not any happier than we were in 1950. In fact, depression has become an epidemic in our American culture.
It’s not just an American thing. South Korea’s prosperity has dramatically risen over the last 30 years, but so has its suicide rate. Their suicide rate is four times what it was in 1985.
If that’s the case with prosperous countries, it must be worse in poverty-stricken countries, right? Nope. It’s just the opposite. Countries like Haiti, Peru, Ghana, and the Philippines struggle with poverty and economic instability, but their suicide rates are half of what they are in prosperous countries like France, Switzerland, and Japan.
So if you want to be happy, don’t look to your bank account to get you there. A New Year’s resolution to make more or save more money is not the antidote.
I’m not opposed to having money or even being financially prosperous. But we can’t count on things to make us happy. Contentment comes from Jesus Christ, not from whatever money or things we possess—or don’t possess.
I truly believe that. I am discovering what Paul discovered. He learned contentment whether he had a lot or a little.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:12).
The “secret?” Walking with Christ. As Paul said in the very next verse:
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (v. 13).
Don’t let a New Year’s resolution to earn more/save more/spend less be the carrot you chase for happiness in 2018. Instead, make it your goal to seek Christ and become more like Him.
Seek Him—and all the joy you’ll ever want will follow.
- Talking Yourself Out of Depression
- A Thought for the Depressing Days of January
- Let’s Stop Misquoting Philippians 4:13