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Too many believers and non-believers alike have placed their happiness and overall well-being in relationships or in material things. Here is a list of potential pitfalls on the journey to true happiness:
- Spouse/significant other - too many couples place their happiness in one another. Sure, we all want to have loving, happy relationships with our spouses (singles - boyfriends/girlfriends or lack thereof) but because we are flawed human beings, we are bound to fail each other from time to time.
- Children - for those of us that have children, we love them and want the very best for their lives. As they grow older, though, they start making their own choices and sometimes they will disappoint us and make the wrong choices. Also at some point, they will leave our homes. For parents that have wrapped their happiness in their children, they will eventually become extremely unhappy and depressed once their children leave home.
- Parents - some people place their happiness in their relationship with their parents. If the relationship is strong, they are happy. If the relationship is strained, they are unhappy. Again, our parents are also flawed human beings, so they will fail us at times and we will fail our parents.
- Friends - in reality, we all only have a small number of friends that we can rely on and talk to about anything. Even the best of friends, though, are only human and will let us down on occasion.
- Job/Career/Business - in general, men have the biggest problem with having their happiness wrapped up in this area. If business is going well, they are happy. If there are problems at work, they are unhappy.
- Food - some people are so obsessed with food that they have linked happiness with eating.
- Sleep - some people use sleep as a crutch to get them through unhappy times. They would rather be unconscious then face the real issues. They think more sleep will help them achieve the happiness they desire, or at least avoid the pain of their unhappiness.
- Addictions - similar to food and sleep, people use a wide variety of addictions (drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography) as a way to escape the discontent and unhappiness in their lives. They become deceived into thinking their addiction is making them happy.
- Hobbies - here is another possible escape mechanism. The hobby could be anything from golf to gardening. Hobbies are perfectly fine and normal, but if your personal happiness is dependent upon the amount of time you are able to put into your hobby, you will be disappointed.
- Money - many people have a mindset that if they can "x" amount in salary at work, then they will be happy. Or, if they can have a certain amount of money in savings and investments, then they will be happy and content. The problem that develops is the bar gets raised higher and higher to the point that no amount of money will bring them satisfaction.
- Stuff - similar to money, people get into a mindset that a new car, a new house, a new boat, or new clothes will bring happiness and fulfillment. This is how compulsive shoppers get into $1,000's in debt. They are trying to buy a happiness that doesn't last.
God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won't follow sinners or join in sneering at God. Instead, the Law of the LORD makes them happy, and they think about it day and night. They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do. (Psalm 1:1-3)