Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Does “Having Fun” Bring Happiness?
2 I said to myself, “I should have fun—I should enjoy everything as much as I can.” But I learned that this is also useless. 2 It is foolish to laugh all the time. Having fun does not do any good.
3 So I decided to fill my body with wine while I filled my mind with wisdom. I tried this foolishness because I wanted to find a way to be happy. I wanted to see what was good for people to do during their few days of life.
Does Hard Work Bring Happiness?
4 Then I began doing great things. I built houses, and I planted vineyards for myself. 5 I planted gardens, and I made parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made pools of water for myself, and I used them to water my growing trees. 7 I bought men and women slaves, and there were slaves born in my house. I owned many great things. I had herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. I owned more things than any other person in Jerusalem did.
8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I took treasures from kings and their nations. I had men and women singing for me. I had everything any man could want.
9 I became very rich and famous. I was greater than anyone who lived in Jerusalem before me. My wisdom was always there to help me. 10 Anything my eyes saw and wanted, I got for myself. My mind was pleased with everything I did. And this happiness was the reward for all my hard work.
11 But then I looked at everything I had done and the wealth I had gained. I decided it was all a waste of time! It was like trying to catch the wind.[a] There is nothing to gain from anything we do in this life.[b]
Ecclesiastes 6 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Wealth Does Not Bring Happiness
6 I have seen another thing in this life that is not fair and is very hard to understand. 2 God gives some people great wealth, riches, and honor. They have everything they need and everything they could ever want. But then God does not let them enjoy those things. Some stranger comes and takes everything. This is a very bad and senseless thing.
3 A man might live a long time and have 100 children. But if he is not satisfied with those good things, and if no one remembers him after his death, I say that a baby who dies at birth is better off than that man. 4 It is senseless when a baby is born dead. The baby is quickly buried in a dark grave, without even a name. 5 The baby never saw the sun and never knew anything. But the baby finds more rest than the man who never enjoyed what God gave him. 6 He might live 2000 years. But if he does not enjoy life, then the baby who was born dead has found the easiest way to the same end.[a]
7 People work and work to feed themselves, but they are never satisfied. 8 In the same way a wise person is no better than a fool is. It is better to be a poor person who knows how to accept life as it is. 9 It is better to be happy with what you have than to always want more and more. Always wanting more and more is useless. It is like trying to catch the wind.[b]
10-11 You are only what you were created to be—a human, and it is useless to argue about it. People cannot argue with God about this because he is more powerful than they are, and a long argument will not change that fact.
12 Who knows what is best for people during their short life on earth? Their life passes like a shadow. No one can tell them what will happen later.