Happy, and the Myth of “One More Thing”

How happy would you say you are right now?

Maybe you would say that you are as “Happy As A Clam!”   (Personally, I’ve never understood what it is about clams that makes them so particularly happy, but we can explore that intriguing question at another time!)  

On the other hand, you may find yourself Less-Than-Joyful at the moment.  

And if that describes you, I’d venture a guess that you’ve got an idea of what would “make you happy.” Most of us usually have a thing or two at the very top of the list.

If I could just see my team win the close one for a change…
If I could just beat this traffic…
If I could just get my kids to behave…
If I could just work for a reasonable boss…

If I could just get a decent night’s sleep without that infernal dog barking…
If I could just take a nice long vacation…
If I could just lose the last 5 pounds…
If I could just lose the first 5 pounds…
If I could just meet the right person…
     THEN I know I would be happy!

It’s what I call “The Myth of One More Thing”, and we’re all tempted to believe it. No matter where we find ourselves, no matter how up or how down – we would like to believe that if we could just have that one, next thing, it will push us over the top to unbreakably happy. THEN we’ll have a joy that won’t dim. THEN we’ll have a smile that won’t fade.

And sometimes the one more thing we are reaching for is small.
If I could just have a chocolate covered Twinkie…

And sometimes the one more thing we are reaching for is really big.
If I could just win a million dollars…

But the reality is that it probably won’t make us near as happy as we’d like to believe.

There was a landmark study conducted that tracked down, interviewed, and followed up on lottery winners. What the researchers discovered was that the typical lottery winner does experience, as expected, a rush of euphoria immediately after their good fortune. However, the ongoing effect was a surprise. The follow-up studies indicated that these same winners, over the long haul, were no more “happy” than people who hadn’t won. What’s more, the winners reported significantly less happiness from simple pleasures like hearing a funny story, eating a good breakfast, or receiving a compliment. (Brickman, Coates, and Jannoff-Bultman)

Even with such a stroke of good luck, the reality is that the euphoria quickly fades, and it may even leave behind a diminished capacity to experience the simple joy of everyday life.


The lesson is that nothing in our circumstances can compel us to lasting happiness – and nothing in our circumstances should be able to ultimately steal our joy.  

Our attitude is always a decision to be made.  Our joy is always a gift to be received.

The Bible says this in the book of Philippians:

“I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”   (Philippians 4:11-13, The Message)

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wanting one more thing.
It’s just a shame to miss out on the joy while you’re waiting.