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Happiness v. Joy, Contentment and Peace: Discussion Starter

10.02.2013 posted by AwanaYM

Happiness v Joy, Contentment and Peace

Are we making a bigger deal about happiness that we used to? It sure feels like it. The Internet is crowded with blogs and books about happiness, and researchers have come up with new ways of tracking happiness both domestically and around the world.

It might be revealing to talk with your students about happiness. A good jumping off point could be the United Nations’ 2013 World Happiness Report. According to a story in the LA Times, the report shows that the Earth’s population grew 0.5 percent happier from 2010 to 2012. The United States was the 17th-happiest country, with Denmark coming in at number one and Togo coming in last at number 156.

The results were compiled from surveys conducted with an average of 3,000 people per country, asking about their “overall sense of life satisfaction.” Contributors to happiness were identified as “income, mental and physical health, social support, freedom to make your own choices, being inclined to help others, and living under a government that doesn’t seem corrupt.”

After introducing the topic of happiness to your group, some of the following questions may be helpful in talking about it from a biblical perspective. Consider focusing any Bible study around passages like Psalm 1 (“Blessed in the man who . . .”), Philippians 4 (peace and contentment), or James 1 (choosing joy in trials).

  1. How would you define happiness?
  2. Based on those definitions, who would we expect to be most happy?
  3. Who would we expect to be the least happy?
  4. From the people you’ve met, is it true that those with the best circumstances turn out to be the most happy?
  5. As Christians, should we make it a goal to be happy?
  6. Does the Bible ever talk about how to be happy? [Consider using Psalm 1 here.]
  7. Do you think happiness means the same thing to everyone?
  8. What would you say is the difference between happiness and joy? [James 1; Phil. 4:4]
  9. What would you say is the difference between happiness and personal peace? [Phil. 4]
  10. What would you say is the difference between happiness and contentment? [Phil. 4]
  11. Do you think happiness is something you can control, that you can make happen, or is it something that comes as a result of focusing on other things?
  12. If a Christian doesn’t always feel happy, does that mean he or she is doing something wrong in their walk with God?
  13. If a Christian does feel happy most of the time, does that mean he or she is necessarily making right choices in their walk with God?
  14. What’s the danger of making it our goal in life to feel “happy”?
  15. What’s the danger of deciding that it’s just normal for us to feel discouraged, angry, fearful, worried or defeated all of the time?
  16. What emotions should we care about getting rid of and/or getting more of?

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