Someone, somewhere in California, has won the Powerball lottery, with its attendant riches. Good for them. Maybe the money will afford them a better lifestyle, dig them and their extended family out of an economic hole and onto an affluent mountaintop. Money may not buy love, but it sure buys a lot of other things that can be easily substituted for love. I wish the winners the best. But I wonder: Will the money make them happy? Or will it cause unforeseen problems, a line of begging strangers at the door, unwise spending that leaves them feeling empty? It’s hard to know.

I see Oprah on TV, shilling for Weight Watchers. Apparently she’s still not happy, either. Not after her monumental successes, her philanthropy, her power and her wealth. She still wants to be thin. Or, as she puts it, to “have her best body.” Oprah makes me feel tired. She’s 61. When do I get to stop caring what my body looks like? Never? If all that she has hasn’t made her happy, will a “best body” really do the trick?

We all look outward for our happiness, at other people, at things, at conditions. “If I just had this or that, then I would be happy,” we tell ourselves. And we believe it. Maybe it’s even true. But over and over, I see cases where it is not. Cases of people who become addicted to plastic surgery, each time thinking, “This time, I will end up looking the way I want.” People who are never content with what they’ve accomplished, but keep seeking the next big thing. Are we genetically programmed to eschew contentment?

On the one hand, our itch for “more” keeps the human race creative. It keeps us seeking new ideas and new technology. On the other hand, it keeps us miserable.

Maybe we need to stop looking outward for happiness and turn our view inward: into our very souls. Imagine looking inside yourself and liking what you see. How would that change your worldview? How would it alter the way you approach other people?

I can’t say I love my own inner beauty just yet. But I know God dwells there, and that God is ultimate beauty, power and love. If I can just find God in myself, maybe I can know true contentment. Maybe we all can.

That sure would be good for us. Bad for the people who run the Powerball lottery, but certainly good for us.

 

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