What Is True Happiness?

As we approach the Chinese New Year, we are reminded once again that happiness is a universal pursuit. But what is happiness and how can we attain this most desired treasure? 

The Bible and in particular, Psalm 1 provides the answer to these questions. The first Hebrew word in this psalm is translated as ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’ in most English Bibles. But what does ‘blessed’ in the sense of happiness mean?  

Psalm 1:3 gives us a vivid picture of a person who is happy. The psalmist uses the image of a vibrant tree.  “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…” Here we find three characteristics of a truly happy person: 

A truly happy person is characterized by fullness of life. The blessed person is portrayed as a living tree. However, the wicked is portrayed as the chaff that is dead and useless (Ps. 1:4).    

Second, the blessed person is marked by persevering durability. The tree is planted and its leaves never wither, whereas the chaff is withered because it was blown away by the wind. 

Lastly, the blessed person is characterized by success. He fulfills the primary purpose for his existence just as the tree fulfills its purpose by bearing fruit. However, the chaff, in contrast, is good for nothing. 

The English word for ‘happiness’ is often used in a purely emotional sense but the biblical meaning refers both to a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. 

How is this happiness attained? The answer is, in a word, holiness. 

A holy life, according to the book of Psalms, results in a happy life.  Psalm 1:1-2 declares that happiness results in delighting in and meditating on God’s instruction followed by a joyful and willing obedience and faith. 

As such, we have the answers to life’s greatest treasure. What are we doing about it? Let us use this festive season to share with everyone that true happiness can be found in our Lord Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. 

Rev. Mark Tay