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Happiness Is(n’t) The Latest iPhone

10-31blessedness

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

“Is it possible that the latest iPhone isn’t the key to happiness? I’d rather leave the house without my wallet and keys than my phone. I’d almost rather leave without my pants, though the world might disagree.” John Robson

In an article dated September 14, 2017 in the National Post, John Robson probes humanity’s pursuit of happiness. Robson’s (sometimes humorous) comments highlight a relevant question for marketplace leaders.

Years ago, I recall lunching with an investment banker with whom I had worked on some corporate acquisitions. At the time, he had a new client, Research In Motion, about which he was quite excited. I had never heard of RIM, at that time a private company. He pulled out RIM’s breakthrough product, a BlackBerry, and proceeded to demonstrate its (quite limited by today’s standards) features. I was dazzled. It was a quantum leap ahead of any device then on the market and I marveled at its potential to change the way we do business.

Fast forward to 2017. Blackberry is struggling and the 800-pound gorilla in the smartphone market is the iPhone. Few companies in history have created a consumer franchise like Apple Inc. It never ceases to amaze me how each new iPhone release generates a buying frenzy despite the fact that the last generation iPhone works just fine. Confession: I have succumbed on occasion to the siren call of next generation iPhones!

Blessedness (lasting happiness) is not dependent on outward conditions.

Not being a psychologist, I don’t have an expert opinion on consumer behaviour. I can’t help but wonder, however, whether one reason is indeed our perpetual quest for happiness and fulfilment through the acquisition of new things. To the extent the pursuit of happiness drives sales of next generation iPhones, experience suggests that consumers are setting themselves up for perpetual frustration. In my case, it is usually not long before I identify some deficiency in my new iPhone!

While there is nothing wrong per se with acquiring iPhones, new cars, exciting vacations and life’s other pleasantries, Jesus’ perspective on happiness stands in stark contrast. In a discourse known as “the Beatitudes,” He provides His roadmap to sustainable happiness. For example, “Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous — with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 5:3, Amplified Bible)

Note two aspects of Jesus’ prescription for lasting happiness (blessedness). First, it is not dependent on “outward conditions.” Second, it is focused on others, not on oneself. Some have described the kingdom of God’s rule as “an upside down kingdom.” The Beatitudes certainly support that descriptor.

How about you? Are you happy today and, for that matter, every day?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.