Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
More and more persons are discovering that balancing life with a spiritual and material well-being is critical to their state of happiness.
In the Gleaner Happiness Survey of Residents of Jamaica conducted earlier this month by Johnson Survey Research Limited, on a scale of zero to 10, it was revealed that very religious persons were the happiest with a score of 7.9, compared to those non-religious with a score of 6.9.
In fact, last year, the United Nations acknowledged the importance of one's spiritual well-being, taking a lesson from a small landlocked state in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, named Bhutan.
It was discovered that the citizens there were considered to be some of the happiest people in the world because the government made a decision long ago to place a strong emphasis on the spiritual well-being of the nation.
Hence the birth of International Day of Happiness, with the aim to promote the idea that the pursuit of happiness was universal.
Noting that happiness comes from within, Donald Reece, Roman Catholic archbishop emeritus of Kingston, told The Gleaner that "if you know and appreciate who you truly are, not comparing yourself with anyone else, that is the beginning of happiness.
"Once you accept that, anything else outside will either enhance or diminish your sense of happiness."
CAN'T BUY HAPPINESS
Acknowledging that having sufficient resources was an important aspect of one's well-being, the archbishop said, in the same breath, having a vast amount of money doesn't necessarily bring happiness.
"I have found that the home has a lot to do with happiness. I have been to homes where families have plenty and they are complaining all the time; there was no happiness there. And I have been to the homes of some with so little, but they are so happy; they share everything. So we are talking about the quality of life. It must begin from within and enhance by what's outside," he said.
Reece added that having a relationship with the Supreme Being is the central point of true happiness, which goes hand in hand with a harmonious relationship with each other.
For the Reverend Dr Lenworth Anglin, executive chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica, arriving at that state of happiness and contentment is not an overnight feat, but has to be a process through which one learns a number of things along life's journey.
GOD IN CONTROL
"One of the most important things is to recognise that there is a God who is in control and that nothing happens to us by chance. We have to recognise that God has a purpose and a plan for us as human beings. We all have some kind of destiny. Once we recognise that, then we will allow for whatever happens in our lives to not disturb us but to point us and direct us," Anglin said.
Learning to be content in spite of whatever situation being faced with is very critical to a person's well-being, stated Pastor Charles Francis of the Faith United Church of God International.
"Life has taught us that things will never always be the way we want it. The key is to learn to deal with all the punches - good and bad - life throws at us," said Francis.
He added that a deeply rooted relationship with God makes a difference because persons learn to rely on Him and trust His promise that He will supply all their needs; that He is in control.
"When has worrying ever changed the situation? The only thing worrying does is make us stressed and ill. Life has taught us that if we worry about everything and try to take on all the problems that life throws at us, we will always be in misery. Once we learn to put it all in God's hands and let Him deal with it and just go about our day, then we realise that things always work themselves out, which will make for a happy life," Francis stated.
The Reverend Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, noted that real happiness must be a deep-seated sense of well-being and contentment.
"Happiness is not something that is on the surface level or fickle, but it is linked into a sense of well-being, and that sense of well-being is anchored in a right and robust relationship with God," said Johnson.
"Some people find it difficult to accept that there are persons who are going through a rough time and still have the bearing of a contented person. So we need to elevate that important point that no matter what the circumstances are, if you are anchored in this relationship with God, then there is a sense that happiness goes deeper than the outward expression."
According to the survey, on a scale from 0 to 10 (10 being very happy), persons with a strong religious affiliation appear to be the happiest.
Very religious 7.9
Not really religious 6.9
Source: Gleaner Happiness Survey - Johnson Survey Research Ltd.