Years ago a study was conducted by the Institute for Child Behavior Research. Bernard Rimland, the institute’s director, asked each person involved in the study to list the ten people they knew best and then to label them as happy or unhappy. Next, they were told to go through the same list of people and label them as selfish or unselfish. Amazingly, Rimland found that every single person who was labeled “happy” was also labeled “unselfish.” He wrote that those “whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness…are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy” (Rimland, Bernard. The Altruism Paradox. Psychological Reports 51, 1982: p. 521-2).
Many people spend their entire lives in an unending pursuit of happiness. In reality, happiness isn’t some mysterious secret. In some ways it’s sad that a study had to be done in order to teach us where happiness comes from. All this study really did, however, was confirm what God already told us about happiness. Consider the following Scriptures.
- “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
- “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you…” (Matthew 7:12).
- “…It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
- “But the greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
Both the study and the Bible confirm it, happiness and unselfishness go together. Happiness will come through being loving, being servants, and being selfless. If we want to be happy, then the secret is to stop thinking about our own happiness and start working to make others happy.