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New Research on Happiness Parallels Biblical Principles

In the late 1990s, Martin Seligman, the president of the American Psychological Association, noted psychology’s emphasis on the negative side of life. Studies were focused on depression and anxiety, while ignoring the positive, including happiness and well-being. His observation spurred new research and hundreds of articles on happiness.

One of the central topics addressed in these studies is this simple question: Can people become happier? The resounding answer is yes. In a recent article, Randy Alcorn notes how closely these new studies recognize that wealth, success, and popularity are not indicators of happiness. Instead their recommendations align with Biblical principles for attaining true happiness

For example, the results of a Duke University study concluded happiness is fostered by several key factors:

Avoiding suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness. (cf. Mark 11:25)

Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression. (cf. Phil. 3:13-14)

Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions that can’t be changed. (cf. Matt 6:25-27)

Refusing to indulge in self-pity when handed a raw deal. Realize that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune. (cf. Phil. 4:11-12)

Finding something bigger to believe in. Self-centered, egotistical people score lowest in any test for measuring happiness. (cf. Matt. 6:33)

Possible Preaching Angle:

Psychologists can borrow certain values from a Christian worldview, but without faith in Christ and the indwelling Spirit as an agent of change, they’re left without a solid foundation for happiness. Achieving true happiness calls for the greatest solution ever devised—one so radical it appears foolish to the sophisticated—and that is the cross of Christ. “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).


Randy Alcorn, “Modern Research about Happiness Parallels Biblical Principles,” Eternal Perspective Ministries (9-25-19)

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