Here is a question that we sometimes hear. Immediately, it suggests jealousy. Why else would someone ask such a question, if they were not jealous of someone else? Jealousy is a terrible thing because it if you are jealous, it not only makes others feel bad, but it also makes you feel bad. But, if we think about it, what a strange question it is.
Whatever do we mean by success? Does it mean having a lot of money, a big house and a fancy car? If it does, I am not interested. After all, Christ did not have any of those things. As a matter of fact, he did not have any money, or a house or a car.
I think that a much more interesting question is: Why is he happier than me? I find this question interesting because it seems to me that happiness is much more important than success. Why?
Well, first of all, only a few people are ever going to be rich and have big houses and fancy cars. That is just a fact of life. Secondly, I have met such people and none of them seemed particularly happy to me. For example, I know a lady who is a millionaire. She is miserable. And I will tell you an English saying: she is so miserable that she is ‘as miserable as sin’. That’s a saying that we should think about. Oh, I’m sure that there are some people who are rich and ‘successful’ who are also happy. It is just that I have never met any of them.
On the other hand, I know a lot of people who are happy, but they are not rich and successful. They have very ordinary jobs, most of them rent a house or a flat, some of them don’t even have a car. So they are not really ‘successful’. So what makes them happy? It can’t be their age, because they are all ages, between 9 months and 90 years, it can’t be that they are men or women because they are both, it can’t be their nationality because they come from many different countries and it can’t be because they are married or single because they are both. So what is happiness?
Well, I’ve thought a lot about it and I have come to this conclusion. It seems to me that they are happy because they are content with what they have. They are content with it because they say to themselves: ‘This is what I have and I am going to make the best of it’.
For instance, I often visit people in prison. Now that is not a place where you want to be. I say this to the prisoners: ‘You are in a bad place. So how are you going to survive? You’re going to survive by making the best of it, by using prison as an opportunity to find good and do good. Prison’s your opportunity to prepare the rest of your life for after you get out. It’s a university of life’.
Life is what we make of it. We all know that there are good things and bad things in life. All we have to do to be happy is to look for the good things. We should not even make success into our aim. We should make being contented with what we have inside us and what we can do with it into our aim. Then we shall be happy. But if we spend our lives wanting more things, more money, bigger houses, fancier cars, bigger TVs, newer smartphones and tablets so that we can be happy, then all that will happen is that we will never be happy, because we will always be wanting more money, a bigger house, a fancier car, a bigger TV, a newer smartphone and tablet and so we shall never be satisfied, never content.
One of the worst things for this nowadays is the way that some people use Facebook. Because a lot of people use it to show off and bully others, to show how popular it seems that they are, how many likes they have, how many friends they have, how many holidays they have etc. For them, all of life is a competition and they are the winners. That makes others jealous or even depressed.
I will tell you something about Facebook:
Most, and probably all the people, who show off on Facebook are not happy. They are not ‘winners’, they are what is called ‘losers’. If you are happy, content, you do not need to show off or bully. You keep yourself to yourself, living your life (and not someone else’s) from day to day. And that for me is success.