Thought for the Month (August 2011)

Dear Friends,

"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." So runs the words of a children's party song. But are you happy? It seems that David Cameron wants to know because he is asking the Office of National Statistics to work out how happy Britain is by creating a happiness index! Furthermore, I hear that some schools are planning to introduce happiness lessons! But is this really a subject that can be taught? I suspect not, and yet the Happiness for Action movement argues that there should be "An educational revolution in which a central purpose of our schools becomes to help young people learn the secrets of the happy life and the happy society." Perhaps the secret is nearer to home, for in the Bible we read "Happy is he who trusteth in the Lord" (Proverbs 16 verse 20) and "Happy are they that have not seen and yet believed" (John 20 verse 29).

A smile is a sign of happiness and I had hoped to include a biblical quotation to support this statement, but my concordance suggests that "smiling" doesn't figure anywhere in the Bible. However, Mother Theresa is reported to have said that "A smile is the beginning of peace". That's as good a start as any and we can all smile to show our happiness, for remember "We can smile when we can't say a word. We can smile when we cannot be heard.... We can smile any time anywhere". So perhaps it is worth repeating here some lines I wrote when I visited the Rusthall Fellowship Hour in June 2000:

"Be sure to keep on smiling when you exit to the street,
For your smile will be infectious to the people that you meet.
For even when it's gloomy and the clouds are dark and grey,
Your smile will bring some sunshine to the people on the way."

So out you go and start smiling and clapping so that people will know that you are happy, and will want to share your secret.

John Eldridge
Hawkenbury URC.

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church