A British think-tank recently published the ranking of all nations in the world under the Happy Planet Index or Unhappy Planet Index depending on how you want to view the findings.

According to their findings, most of the first world nations are ranked poorly while many third world countries are ranked ahead of these developed nations. Out of 178 nations, Britain is ranked 108th, Canada 111th, France 129th, Australia 139th and the US 150th. Over here, Singapore is ranked 131st, the “unhappiest” nation in Asia.

The Happy Planet Index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF), named the top 10 countries as follows: Vanuatu, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Panama, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Vietnam is ranked 12th, top in Asia. If the findings are true, then there will be a mad rush for people to migrate to these countries. But we know this is not the case.

Actually, the Index only shows relative efficiency with which nations convert the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens. While these findings do not really reveal the happiest nation on planet Earth, there is certain amount of truth in which Christians should do well learn and remember that happiness does not come from tangible material possessions. For the Lord admonished:

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (Luke 12:15)

Living in city-states can be very stressful. This is true of developed nations where there is always a mad rush to get gains. People do not know how to smile and be courteous anymore. Even when they smile, they are just putting up a front giving out an insincere plastic smile. They may smile but their eyes are not smiling. The cares of this life have taken away the joy of living. People merely exist meaninglessly to get through the day to make ends meet. When people get to meet and talk, they talk about money, comparing how well off or unfortunate they have been, and how heaven has been unfair to them.

If people in this world born dead in trespasses and sin are unhappy, it is perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, even Christians are caught up with this unnecessary trap of trying to keep up with the Jones in this world. They look like they are enduring unto the end to be saved. They have lost the joy of their salvation! Every day is no longer a day nearer to glory. They are no longer walking in the path of the just that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18) How sad!

Interestingly, the government here is appealing to citizens to greet the delegates of the IMF-World Bank meeting here next month with “four million smiles”. A dedicated website is set up to achieve this end. It is no longer funny when people have to be taught when to smile and how to smile. It is so artificial and superficial!

Christians should never have to be told when and how to be happy. Smiling should be so natural that it is second nature to a child of God. But are Christians living their lives according to Scriptural admonition? Do Christians meet the conditions to be joyous?

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:9-11)

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

Rejoice evermore. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

May the Lord teach us to trust in His bountiful care where the joy of the Lord is truly our strength!