September devotion: Secrets to happiness (that we already know)

Back in 2002, a Harvard psychology professor offered a class where students talked about how people can find lasting happiness. The first year, six students signed up. The next year, 380 students signed up. And the next year, 855 students signed up, making it the largest class at the university.

Clearly, the professor had struck a nerve. People want to know how to be happy—even the brilliant, high-achieving Harvard students wanted to know the secret.

“The more we help others, the happier we become, and the happier we become, the more inclined we are to help others,” writes the professor.*

Well, we didn’t have to take a class at Harvard to learn that. Women throughout our church know it by experience. Helping people through ministry and action, affirming one another’s gifts, supporting one another in our callings, promoting healing and wholeness—all these are deeply satisfying and meaningful. So is supporting ministries we care about. These deeply satisfying and meaningful things contribute to our long-term happiness.

The professor also writes that expressing gratitude contributes in a meaningful way to our relationships and to our overall happiness.

That’s another thing women throughout the church know by experience. Expressing gratitude is what people of faith do. That’s what worship is. The very word eucharist means thanksgiving.

Giving thanks, expressing gratitude in words and in actions, has been part of the lives of faithful women since the beginning. Lutheran women are following in the footsteps of our foremothers when we give Thankofferings in response to God’s blessings.

Our Thankofferings support the ministry we all love, which goes back to the first thing the Harvard students learned—supporting ministries we care about is deeply satisfying and meaningful, and it contributes to our lasting happiness.

Your generous support of Women of the ELCA through Thankofferings makes a difference in people’s lives—including your own. Thank you.

Let us pray.

Gracious and generous God, you created us in your image to love and serve you and our neighbor. Grant us grace to use the gifts that you have entrusted to us to help women throughout our church grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world. This we ask through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

*Tal Ben-Sharar, Ph.D. Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, © 2007.

Photo by Jim Veneman.

Past devotions:
August devotion: Sustaining stewardship
July devotion: How does your garden grow?
June devotion: Practicing gratitude

May devotion: "Easy for her!"
April devotion: Rebuking the fever

March devotion: Prophecies and visions

February devotion: Giving thanks for Bold Women

January devotion: Treasure chest