Happiness and Human Flourishing By Dr. Zenet Maramara
The Search for Happiness and Human Flourishing
Throughout history, people and society have pursued happiness and well-being. The worldly (hedonic) definition of happiness consists of enjoying the pleasures of life and adding fun, joy, and excitement to everyday living. People buy and accumulate stuff to make themselves happy. They seek gratification, entertainment, or amusement to satisfy their insatiable desires. Despite gaining those things, genuine happiness remains elusive. Philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists recommend life balance, work satisfaction, healthy living, and commitment to higher goals to attain a sense of happiness.
A Higher Level of Happiness?
Aristotle wrote about a bigger concept of happiness, the Greek eudaimonia, translated as flourishing or the highest human good. It is a condition of having a “good spirit” relating to happiness or welfare. It describes a life well lived which according to Aristotle, the highest good, humans can strive toward. How do you define happiness? What does it mean for you to live a good, happy life?
Happiness is closely related to human flourishing. God’s purpose in creation to bring him glory includes human flourishing. When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in the pleasant Garden with trees whose fruits are good for food. He gave them everything in order for them to live and to thrive. The had the perfect environment and all the conditions necessary to live happily ever after. Moreover, they enjoyed God’s presence in the Garden.
God’s first commandment to Adam was to tend the garden and make it flourish (Gen. 2:15).
God blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful, to multiply, and to have dominion over all of God’s creation (Gen. 1:26-28). We also find in the creation mandate in Genesis, that God created Adam in his own image. To be created in God’s image has far-reaching implications regarding human flourishing. Furthermore, we Christians have the spirit of the Lord, and the freedom that goes with it. Beholding the glory of God, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor.3:16).
Reflect on how you live out the image of God in your life; in relating with fellow human beings, who likewise were created in God’s image; in treating the rest of creation that God perfectly made for all of us to enjoy.
The Happiness of the Triune God
God exists in the eternal community of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Like God, human beings thrive in a social setting i.e. family, community, society. We are made for relationships-with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the rest of creation. We flourish when we find belongingness, nurture, acceptance, meaning, and purpose. What brokenness in your life hinders you from living out the life that God purposed for you?God heals our wounds and he has secured our peace through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:4-5). The same harmonious relationship of the Triune God, is our model for authentic happiness.
Living the Abundant Life in Christ
Jesus promised the abundant life.
“I came that they may have life and that they may have it abundantly.’
~ John 10:10
The abundant life consists of the biblical concepts of shalom, wholeness, well-being, blessedness, and happiness.
The source of all human flourishing is rooted in our connectedness with God. The pursuit of godly happiness begins with the restoration of our broken relationship with God. Without such reconciliation, all striving for happiness results only in wanting more of the things that we think will make us happy, but to no avail. Jesus Christ’s death reconciled us to God and reinstated His presence in our lives. For human flourishing to be biblical, it must be rooted in the salvation and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
“For by him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth…all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him, all things hold together.“
~ Col. 1:16-17
Walk It Out
Some practical steps toward happiness and flourish:
- Reflect on how you are living out having the DNA of God for flourishing.
- If there are areas in your life needing forgiveness, pray to God to release you from its bondage.
- Deepen your life-giving relationships.
- Determine your life purpose as God intended it to be.
- Start a gratitude journal.
Dr. Zenet Maramara is the founder/president of Christian Stewardship Association and the chairman of Christians in Conservation, an A Rocha associated project. She was a professor of biblical stewardship at Asian Theological Seminary and former director of the ATS Strategic Leader Development. She organized and directed the MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management program of ATS.
Enjoy the Spring Edition 2023 of Outcomes Magazine from Christian Leadership Alliance.
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Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.