A few years ago, I ran across an article entitled “Do five simple things a day to stay sane, says scientists.” The social scientists, not being writers of headlines, were talking about mental well-being. They had found that five simple things that can often be done daily make a great difference in our mental outlook. What was their list?
- Connect. Develop relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
- Be active. It can be as simple as taking a walk, but physical activity is good for us.
- Be curious. Note the beauty of everyday moments. Reflect on what is most important.
- Learn. It’s challenging and brings satisfaction to our lives.
- Give. “Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to a wider community and is very rewarding.”
What strikes me as I reflect on such a list is that my faith encourages me to do these simple things. My faith encourages me to connect with others: my family, my church family, and my community. Assembling with my church family and doing acts of service encourage me to be active. Prayer and meditation encourage curiosity and living a reflective life. As a student of the Bible, I’m a lifetime learner besides the fact that service will also entail learning new things. Following Jesus who came not to be served but to serve leads me into giving. I’ve learned giving in my weekly contribution to the church, but I’ve also learned to give to others in various settings. Following Jesus encourages me to be generous.
Another social science study notes that church attendance and having friends at church are keys to well-being. Thirty-three percent of those who attend weekly with three to five friends in the congregation report being extremely satisfied. Those who attend weekly without friends in the church and those who never attend scored 19% extremely satisfied.
The bottom line is not about social science or what I may perceive as beneficial to me. I could be self-deceived about my felt needs. The bottom line is about God. I’m struck by a line in Deuteronomy 10:13. Moses has commanded Israel to walk in the way of the Lord, to love God, and to serve God with all their heart. Moses tells them to keep the commandments “for your good.”
I’m convinced that following God is the best way. It is the way of character, inner peace, and fulfillment in life. Social science catches a glimpse of well-being, but wisdom intimately knows the inner life of the soul. Even when following God leads through hardships, I’m convinced God’s way will ultimately be the best way. I believe in a loving God who commands things “for your good.”