If you are human, you spend a lot of time predicting what will make you happy in the future. For some, it is a family vacation, and for others, it may be paying off the mortgage on their home. In his book, Stumbling On Happiness , Daniel Gilbert writes that research proves that we are awful at the task of predicting what will make us happy for three main reasons:
- Our imaginations don't give us an accurate preview of our emotional futures because our brains fill in and leave out essential details about the future.
- We naturally project our current feelings into a future that will not necessarily exist.
- We forget that things will look different once they happen in the future.
Gilbert suggests that there is a straightforward antidote to fix our inability to predict what will make us happy in the future, and we tend to ignore it most of the time.
Without going into this topic too deeply, the most accurate way to determine whether or not a particular future state will make you happy is simple. Ask somebody who is experiencing it right now!
As Gilbert informs us, the human race is like a living library of information about what it feels like to do anything that can be done. All you need to do is ask. Some studies show that when people are forced to ask surrogates to determine how happy they will be about a specific imagined future, they make very accurate predictions about their future feelings. Ask people who have been there before.
The psalmist knew this thousands of years ago. He turned to God’s Word as a lamp for his feet (his next step or two) and a light for his path (several steps ahead in the dark). Do you want to build bigger houses, gardens, garages for exotic cars, and more fields and servants? Do you wonder if that will make you happy in the future? To answer that question, you can turn to God’s Word and learn from the richest and wisest man of his era, Solomon.
Do you think having many women in your life with unlimited wealth to explore every fantasy of your heart will make you content? Again, ask King Solomon. He wrote several books on wisdom in the Bible.
Do you want to be a famous preacher whose writings are revered and quoted by everyone? Visit Paul as he writes a prison letter or two. Hear him talk about learning to find contentment in life, whether he had few or many resources (See Philippians 4:12-13).
God’s truth and wisdom in God’s Word can genuinely guide your next step and, if you let it, can pave the path you choose as you seek God’s fulfillment and happiness. Be wise today and take your next step only after you have studied God’s Word!
 Gilbert, Daniel, Stumbling On Happiness, Vintage Books, 2005.
Excerpted from The Daily Christian: Wisdom by Iann Schonken.
1. Have you ever made a mistake predicting how you would feel after obtaining something you thought you wanted? How long did your happiness last before you experienced disappointment? How long before you looked to something or someone else to make you happy?
2. Contentment results from submitting to God’s truth in every aspect of our lives. Are you still pursuing elusive happiness, or are you ready to find contentment in God’s truth?
3. Ask God to guide your steps on your life path with His truth today.