Inspiring Generosity: Beyond Happiness: There’s Something Else


Beyond Happiness: There’s Something Else

It seems that everyone in the United States is focused on personal happiness. We want our children to be happy. We want to be happy. We want to be #1 in happiness (sorry folks, that distinction belongs to Finland; we’re #15). It’s a measure of our success.
But what if happiness is the wrong thing to strive for?
My oldest friend, a United Methodist clergyperson in Southern CA, recently sent me an article by Monica Parker: Happiness is a Trap: Here’s What to Pursue Instead.
Parker says what we should be striving for is not happiness. Instead, we should be seeking wonder.
As Parker argues:
What if, after two millenniums of debating the relative benefits of varying types of happiness, we could focus on another, more enduring, more impactful emotional state that will bring us both happiness and more significant benefits?...
[Wonder is] an experience that makes us feel like a small part of a bigger system, and that, in turn, makes our problems seem smaller, too.
The church is ripe for giving people the opportunity to experience wonder.
A few weeks ago, Tom and I were invited to the Benedictine Monastery Mount Angel Abbey for a donor thank you event. I always love going to the Abbey because I feel like I’m stepping back in time. In addition to a lovely brunch, the main event was the morning mass. Held in a gorgeous chapel, the monks led us in worship. At the end, the bells joyously rang. I mean they rang. You should take a listen.
I was filled with wonder. I was transported to another place. I was in awe. Even now, I can recall that event and feel a sense of calm and good will.
Wonder also inspires generosity.
Wonder leads me to want to be sure that places that inspire me to feel better, be better, do better are funded to keep their work going.
Does your worship service have an opportunity for people to be filled with wonder? During worship:
Does the music move you?
Does the space take you out of your everyday world?
Are the prayers lifting you and others up?
Have a discussion with your worship or leadership team. Ask them: What sparks wonder in you? What makes you feel closer to the One who created us? It’s an intriguing question that will draw you nearer to each other.
Happiness is indeed a fine and worthy emotion.
But maybe, just maybe we all need a little more wonder in our lives.
Want more wonder? Check out this NPR limited series: Weekly Dose of Wonder. It highlights the wondrous, awe-inspiring or magical in the world of science and health.
And a here’s a previous post about wonder: Creating Oooooh and Awe Experiences.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a Stewardship Consultant for the OR-ID Annual Conference. She is also a Senior Ministry Strategist with Horizons Stewardship. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous churches and non-profit organizations. She loves the old hymns, but the contemporary hymn, God of Wonders by Third Day really moves her.
You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com, at CesieScheuermann.com, or at cesieds@horizons.net. Want to schedule a meeting? She’s got you covered!
Schedule a meeting now.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.