Every day we are confronted with messages from TV, books, newspapers, magazines, movies, music, and each other. Many of the messages that we receive are lies. Deliberately misleading fabrications. Some are for profit, some for power, others simply for self-promotion.
It has ever been thus, I fear. May I suggest that our lack of truthfulness is less of an evil than our inability to discern the deceit from truth?
That intentionally inflammatory declaration is merely to introduce my topic for this and possibly future posts, to wit, “The Lies We Believe”. These are lies that most of us seem to have bought into in spite of their lack of any credibility. We might not assent to them consciously, but our behavior betrays what we truly believe.
The best known such lie is that we would be happier if we just had a little more money. Like any quality falsehood, this one is built on a grain of truth. One study found that the happiness of Americans increases until an annual salary reaches $60,000. After that, nothing. 100K, 200K, millions, it doesn’t matter.
The news and anecdotal evidence back this up. Stories of lottery winners ruining their lives are rampant. Check out the lives of the wealthiest actors, athletes, “celebrities”, and other monied individuals. Does it surprise you to know that they are as miserable as the average Joe?
This is not to say that money depresses us, but it doesn’t make us happy. (No, you wise guys, the stuff it buys doesn’t make us happy either.) My experiences in Haiti bear the truth out. There is simply no correlation between their poverty and the joy I’ve seen in their lives.
I’m not suggesting that poverty makes you happy either. It’s just that there is a tenuous connection between money and happiness. Frankly, if you want to be happy, to experience joy, you are better off expending your efforts elsewhere. There’s greater payback.
I’ll reveal my secret. I follow Jesus Christ. It may sound too good to be true and I know that not everyone claims the same experience, but my joy and contentment have increased in direct proportion to my closeness to my Savior. (That is not the reason I follow him, by the way. It’s just a very pleasant perk.)
This post was inspired by a recent hearing of the marvelous song “Wouldn’t It Be Strange?” by Charlie Peacock. Here are the lyrics that motivated me:
Wouldn’t it be strange if riches made you poor
And everything you owned left you wanting more?
Wouldn’t it be strange to question what it’s for?
Wouldn’t it be strange?