Yvette is a Christian counselor with a passion to help people find God's purpose. Her articles are sources of daily inspiration.
Is Your Happiness a Choice?
We all want to be happy, and many times happiness seems to be a goal that we cannot attain. Christian psychiatrists, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier are the authors of "Happiness is a Choice: News Ways to Enhance Joy and Meaning in Life."
According to Minirth and Meier, people are unhappy for many reasons including loss, hurts, job situations, relationships, life changes, poor choices, and childhood issues. They point out that we need to seek peace and joy in the right places, for we won't find it in material things, power or control.
Somehow, we continue to put off being happy. We feel that next year we will be happy when we get that nice house or some other wonderful blessing that we have been praying for. But when next year comes we set the bar to something else, and we are still not happy.
While we can't determine or prevent difficult events that come into our lives, we can determine how we respond to them. We can choose to be happy. We need to accept that happiness is a journey, and we can choose to be happy each day of our lives
While you will continue to face challenges in your life, you can choose to be happy. Take the journey, explore the seven steps and learn more about what it means to be truly happy as you put your trust in God and choose to be happy daily.
1. Identify the Source Happiness
As, Christians, we know that Jesus came to earth to give us abundant life through his complete work on the Cross. This new life begins with our redemption from sin but also including his provision for every aspect of our lives. The source genuine happiness is faith in Christ Jesus.
Our enemy, the devil, will rob us of our inheritance rights, if we allow him. We must understand our position as children of God. This means studying his Word and meditating on his promises. As we do, God's rich promises encourage our heart, and no matter what the situation is, we can find deep joy and peace.
We find greater self-understanding and appreciation of ourselves, as we accept who we are in Christ. We can be happy when we see ourselves as special with a life of purpose. For example, the Bible says that we:
- are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
- are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)
- cannot be separated from God's love (Romans 8:35)
- can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13)
God Wrote the the Formula for Happiness
2. Set Godly Priorities for Life
We all need to set goals and priorities based on our life's purpose. But what do we base these priorities on? As Christians our greatest priority is to love God with all our hearts. After all, he loves our so much that he gave his to redeem us from our sins.
We are able to love God with all our hearts because he first love us (1 John 4: 19). As he freely pours his love in our hearts, and we respond to his love, then we are able to love him back with all our hearts. The second priority is to love others as ourselves. As God pours his love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) we can truly love each other.
Happy people have goals for their lives, and these priorities are based on more than fleeting things. They are firmly based on the love that God’s deep love and affection, then passing it on to those around us.
Christian psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book, "The Law of Happiness," points out that true happiness is choosing to become what God created us to be. We are created to love God with all our hearts. As we choose to respond to God's awesome love, then we experience peace and tranquility in our lives. So our happiness is not dependent on our circumstance, but originates from an eternal source.
3. Promote a Healthy Thought-Life
Many psychologists point out that how we think affects how we feel and behave. Our self-talk is what we tell ourselves over and over about people, ourselves, God, the past, present and future, and life in general.
How we think about a situation determine how we feel about it, and ultimately our attitude to it. We are not going to be happy if we continue to dwell on the negative things in life.
We need to respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit when we face difficult situations, and train our brains to focus on the positives of life. The verse encourages us to think, meditate, and dwell on things that are:
- excellent or praiseworthy.
What a difference this could make in our lives! Let's put all our energies on focusing on the praiseworthy things of life. This might mean cutting down on the amount of news we watch or read, and spending more time meditating on God's wonderful promises.
This is a choice we have to make daily. When we focus on the things that are praiseworthy, and specifically the promises of God's Word regarding us, this leads to positive feelings and attitudes, and true happiness.
Reasons for Unhappiness Poll
Zig Ziglar: Attitude Makes All the Difference
4. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, points out that our attitude makes all the difference. He argues that we can't change others, what we should do is focus on changing our own attitude.
So what is a grateful attitude? It is focusing on our blessings instead of the stresses and hassles of life. This means appreciating ourselves and others, and seeing reasons to be thankful in even the small things of life.
This increases our optimism and gives us a positive perspective. To develop this grateful perspective takes effort. For example, spending time each day to take note of the things that are positive in our lives, and savoring and enjoying the meaningful experiences of our day.
One of the verses instructs us to give thanks in every situation we face. How is this possible? Because we know that God is on our sides, and is working all the circumstances of our lives for good, as we trust him.
So we can give God thanks and be happy in whatever situations we face, because we see God's blessings behind the dark clouds. Alleluia!
5. Build Strong Relationships
Professor Robert Waldinger in his TED talk, titled “What Makes a Good Life?: Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness" explains that people with strong social support experienced less mental decline as they age.Healthy, nurturing relationships are essential ingredients to our happiness. We all want a sense of belonging and relatedness.
These supportive systems facilitate our growth as individuals. As you we experience positive regard from others we feel affirmed. Relationships involve giving and receiving support from others. We told in the Scriptures to be kind to each other and bear each other burdens. As we share these mutual experiences the bonds of relationships are strengthened, leading to feelings of happiness.
Our Father wants us to cultivate a spirit of generosity in our relationships, where we give freely to others expecting nothing in return. As we demonstrate kindness, we can be sure that our reward will be great, and we will be children of the Most High (Luke 6:35).
We must put aside time to spend with the people you care for, and enjoy and enjoy activities them. It takes time and effort to build relationships. But it is well worth showing love and kindness to others.
What the Research on Happiness Says
The clearest lesson that we get from the 75-year old study is this - good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
— Professor Rpbert Waldinger -TEDX Talks
The Secret of Happiness is Service
6. Choose to Serve Others
When we serve others we get a sense of personal satisfaction. We stop focusing on ourselves, and move the focus on the needs of others. There are numerous ways we can serve in our community and church. These could include:
- Sharing your knowledge of the love of God with others; let them know what he truly means to you
- Helping someone to become aware of opportunities, for example, job openings if they are unemployed
- Teaching someone a skill, for example, helping an older person to learn more about computers
- Giving constructive criticisms that could help them grow and broaden their horizons
- Reach out to someone who is grieving in practical ways
- Volunteering and sharing in a specific area in your local church, for example, the helps or children ministry.
Serving others goes far beyond material help. It is genuinely loving others, and reaching out to touch them where they need it most. As we find ways to make others happy, we too become happier.
7. Learn to be Happy by Meditating on God's Word
God's Word has a great deal to say about true happiness. According to Pastor Creflo Dollar, true happiness is joy that comes from a knowledge of God's Word and not comfortable feelings. Take some time to meditate on these Scriptures and experience the joy of the Lord!
- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV).
- "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)."
- And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself ... (Matthew 22; 37-38, CEV).
- "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things" (Philippians 4:8. NIV).
- "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- "O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endures] for ever" (Psalms 107:1).
- "Don't quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much h as possible" (Romans 12:19).
- " Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).)
Experiencing a Happier Life
It is so easy, to base our happiness on our circumstances. But when we develop a deep faith in God, our joy comes from him who is reliable and never changes.
We also find that we are unhappy because we get so preoccupied with what other people think about certain situations in our lives. But it is now time for us to change our focus to what God is doing in these situations instead.
When we focus on God's promises and his love for us, instead of the challenging situations or what people are saying, our hearts will be flooded with peace and joy. Then we can be truly happy in spite of our circumstances. Today, let’s choose to be happy and experience emotional and spiritual well-being.
© 2014 Yvette Stupart