A Key to a Happy Life

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A Key to a Happy Life

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It is a mystery to most of mankind. A few have discovered the secret, but most don’t have a clue. Why do so many financially successful people seem so bored and unhappy? They get into drugs, drinking and all kinds of excesses striving for the next ultimate thrill, and it doesn’t satisfy anymore than the last. Some even get suicidal in their thinking. This is not a “new [thing] under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 Ecclesiastes 1:9The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
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), as Solomon said. Even he, who had everything a human of that time could have, was prone to the same mindset. He literally tried everything in a great experiment to see what would satisfy and gratify the human soul and came to this conclusion: There is “nothing…better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24 Ecclesiastes 2:24There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.
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).

I had the good fortune to discover this early in life, although it was not by choice. In fact, it was the direct opposite of what I wanted at the time. When I was five, my dad gave up his job in Wheeling, West Virginia and we moved to a 96-acre hill farm in southeast Ohio. The farm produced barely enough to survive on, and it required every member of the family to work long hard hours. There were always mountains of work ahead of us. As a young boy, I began to see that if I were going to be happy at all, I would have to learn to like to work and enjoy the resulting accomplishments. When we plowed, dragged, harrowed and finally planted a field, no one could take that accomplishment away. It was the same at harvest time.

When I was nine, the neighbor man (who was an expert at stacking) stacked wheat and oats for many people. He always wanted me to be on the stack with him placing the sheaves just where he wanted them. He praised me often for doing it just right, so I began to feel respected for the work I did, and for a child that is a great feeling. I was proud to work with him.

When my brother was old enough, we became a real grain shocking team and shocked the wheat and oats on our own farm and several of the surrounding farms the way it seems only the Amish do anymore. We would each pick up two sheaves and sock the straw ends hard onto the ground, repeat that process one time to fill out the shock, then each of us would break down a sheaf for a header, or mini roof, on the shock and move on to the next. I estimated we could shock on average two shocks a minute.

We eventually got to the point where we could keep up with an 8-foot binder, which was unheard of at that time. That gained us the respect of all the farmers on the ridge; and whenever we rode through the countryside we would look at our shocks and stacks still standing firm while others were in a sad state. We often shocked grain for neighbors, not for money, but because it was work that needed done and they couldn’t afford to pay for it. If the planting and harvest was successful, all the poor families on the ridge, including us, could eat and feed their cattle for another winter.

We made work on the farm a game or a sport and enjoyed the feeling of winning and accomplishment. We enjoyed days off so much more because we felt we had earned them. I’m glad people don’t have to work that hard anymore, but I don’t think it hurt me a bit.

We’ve applied the same principle to work all through life. We both could have retired years ago, but are instead still working. My brother retired from teaching and now drives the monorail at Disney World, and I am still working at the company that hired me right out of the Air Force nearly fifty years ago.

I’m not telling you any of this to boast. We accidentally (and even against my will) discovered a great key to happiness. The secret is to learn to enjoy work and accomplishment. It’s been there in Ecclesiastes for 3,000 years.

Modern society runs ragged trying to entertain itself—but humans can only be entertained so long before it all gets boring and depressing. Instead of producing hard, efficient, happy workers, we all too often produce a generation of bored, shiftless people.

If you want happy children, let them help you from an early age and teach them to work. Teach them to look for work and do it—then praise them for their accomplishments. Not all kids can work on a farm, but they can help out in their neighborhood by mowing a widow’s lawn, trimming her shrubs, weeding her flowers, painting her fence or picking up litter. There are all kinds of work that need to be done if we look for them. Diligent, hardworking children will earn the respect of adults. Otherwise, they will learn to show off for it, which can lead to a lack of respect for themselves and others.

Widows aren’t the only ones who may need help. Young mothers with three kids and a car full of groceries could use help, too. (Of course, parents need to be sure the things kids do are safe in this sick world.) Our daughter Linda and grandson Cody have delivered “Meals on Wheels” to shut-ins for years, and Cody often plays the violin for them and those in nursing homes. Sometimes they just want to talk. That’s as close to pure religion as we can get (James 1:27 James 1:27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
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).

Solomon tells us over and over to work and enjoy the fruit of our labor, and this is an extremely important lesson to learn and to teach our children. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 [18] Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he takes under the sun all the days of his life, which God gives him: for it is his portion. [19] Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.
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; 9:9-10; 11:6).

In Revelation 22:12 Revelation 22:12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
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, Christ says, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

Let’s learn to enjoy the work that we find to do upon the earth. We will be happy, others will enjoy the benefits and we will be rewarded for it.

Further reading

For more information on how to have a good life, request or download our free booklet, Making Life Work.

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