Summary: Real happiness comes from investing in people and a God-directed passion

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–

More is Not Better--Simplicity is freedom.

Have you seen the bumper sticker "He who dies with the most toys wins." I saw one that said, "He who dies with the most toys still dies." I believe that many of us have bought that idea that life consists in how much we have.

Yet we are blitzed with countless reminders that having more means being more important, being more attractive, being more valuable.

Every person is bombarded with an average of one hour of advertisements every day.

Advertising is on our streets and highways; in restaurants, shops, movies, and magazines; at concerts and sports event; in our schools and museums; and even in our homes and on our clothes.

In a recent survey, 93% of teenage girls named shopping as their favorite thing to do. (90% of boys like to go to the malls and watch the girls shop). By the time they’re three years old, most American children are making specific requests for brand-name products. Every day you are being told that unless you buy this product or eat at this restaurant, you’re not really happy. We’ve grown up in a culture that says having more means being happier.

Luke 12:15 "A person’s life does not consist of the abundance of possessions." That’s not where you’re really going to find fulfillment and happiness.

Money & Happiness

Ask most people today if money buys happiness and they’ll say no. But ask those same people if a little more money will make us a little more happy-- and most will agree. The Roper Organization asked Americans who make $15,000-$30,000 how much they needed to fulfill all their dreams. The largest group said they’d need $50,000-$60,000. Yet when that same question was put to people earning over $50,000, the largest group in that segment said they’d need at least $125,000 a year, if not more.

Over the past 15 years researchers have studied the relationship between money and happiness. They have concluded that money can buy pleasure, but not happiness. What’s the difference? Pleasure is temporary release. Ability to take a Florida vacation, buy a better car, a membership at the country club. We can buy temporary feel goods, and we can often do it for years at a time. But, Happiness comes from your experiences in which you enjoy investing your mental and emotional energies.

Happiness comes from Investing in Your Passion and Investing in People

Investing in Your Passion

No one knows this better than Richard Westerfield. At age 22, having studied piano, violin, and voice, he got his first chance to conduct and orchestra. "The moment I picked up the baton, I knew this was what I wanted to do." His parents however, urged him to be more practical. So he got a master’s degree in business and took a well-paid position in international investment banking.

But Richards passion for music never ebbed. After putting in 12 hour days on Wall Street, he’d stay up nights writing music scores. His vacations were spent guest conducting for orchestras around the country. One year he got his big break when a famous European conducter (Erich Leinsdorf) had to bow out of 5 guest appearances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Westerfield, his understudy, took over to critical acclaim.

On the last night of the Philharmonic, Richard learned that his father had terminal cancer. "I realized then that life is too short not to do what’s really important to you." He quit his job and started fulfilling his passion– full time conducting. Today he earns half of his old salary, he’s had to simplify his life, but he has finally found the joy he never knew in business.

Reader’s Digest reported a study(Aug 94) that showed that people think they will be happier if they make more money, but actual results show that the happiest people are those who enjoy the challenges and fulfillment of their work. Many people retire early only to miss their work. Why does Michael Jordan continue to play basketball? It’s his passion– even more so than golf and baseball...he did enough of that in his short retirement.

If every job in the world paid the exact same– what would you do? Would you keep doing what you’re doing now?

Investing in People

ILLUS: Tom and Rachel Leihbacher... Their friends have always been important to them. For years they worked on church projects together and hosted summer barbecues at one another’s houses. But they didn’t really know the true value of their friends until one year when their son Tommy was born with severe birth defects. By the time Tommy was two, he’d had a dozen costly operations. Friends rallied to the families side. After the Leihbachers spent the entire summer in the hospital, close friends from the church snatched their house key (stealing), cleaned the place thoroughly, stocked the refrigerator for their return. Friends gave them gift certificates to a fancy restaurant and baby-sat Tommy when they came home from the hospital so they could go on dates. They started a fund to help pay for the families medical bills, and even started holding concerts, rummage and bake sales. They continued to pour money into a special fund for other children in the community who were in similar need. They could have lived with more possessions or personal luxury, but that’s not what will last forever.

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