The researchers looked at four possible avenues that people often pursue as possible sources for happiness. Those avenues were volunteering or working for a charity, taking educational courses, participating in a religious organization, and participating in a political or community organization. According to the San Diego Union Tribune the results showed that “of the four, participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness.” In other words, none of the other three led to more sustained happiness for people.
However, it also seems evident that having faith in God is a big part of giving us a sense of peace and happiness. Consider that in the study they looked at participating in political and community organizations as possible aids to happiness. These are definitely social activities and involve belonging to a group, yet they did not have the same effect on people over the long haul as being part of a religious organization. Researchers found that being part of a secular organization produced some initial effects, but that they lost their benefit over time. Only the church seems to have the ability to sustain those positive effects.
In John 17:3 Jesus said to the Father, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you.” Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.” Isn’t happiness having eternal life, having hope, joy and peace? No amount of success, acclaim, power, fame, pleasure or approval can fill us with eternal life, hope, joy and peace. Only God can do that. So it is no surprise that sustained happiness comes from knowing and worshiping him.
We all want to be happy. A fundamental right, according to the founders of our nation is the right to the pursuit of happiness. But where is that happiness to be found? The story of the human race is the tale of pursuing happiness in all the wrong places. The human race, by and large, is like a person madly hunting for buried treasure, but misreading the treasure map and as a result digging in the wrong spot. No matter how feverishly he digs or how deep his hole is, he will never find the treasure because he’s looking in the wrong place. The happiness we desire comes from knowing God and being a vital part of a community of brothers and sisters in Christ. When we forget this basic truth we inevitably lose the happiness that we all desire.