Can you remember the last time you felt like kicking up your heels with joy? Have you had a good belly laugh lately? Are you feeling light-hearted and catch yourself smiling at the most unusual moments? Do you find yourself thinking about others or are you focused on self and what others could be doing for you? Does the day ahead bring you a sense of happy adventure and a positive outlook? Which Winnie the Pooh character do you most identify with, Tigger or Eeyore? If you answered no to the questions above or Eeyore, your happiness has probably been hijacked! Statistics report that 1 in 3 Americans are unhappy. The good news is that the older you get, the happier you become! Well, that’s what polls and statistics determine.
The song Happy, by Pharrell Williams, was the best-selling song of 2014 with sales of 13.9 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. Take a few minutes to watch his song. It'll bring a smile to your face!
Why? I believe people, globally, are seeking happiness, something to make them feel better about life with all of its problems. The world is dark and life is complicated. This little song with its catchy melody and simple lyrics seem to help change your outlook. Each time I listen, I get a skip in my step, my attitude adjusted, and a smile comes over my face! “But Sherry, it’s a secular song!” you may be thinking. Then you get all super-spiritual on me, and say shouldn’t Jesus be the source of your happiness? And…isn’t this a Christian blog?! Yes, it’s secular and your joy is complete in Jesus, but let me tell you more about why I decided to write about this topic and this particular song…
Ok, so I’ve been struggling with happiness for a few weeks…I think it’s because after the retreat, life didn’t slow down at all. In fact, it sped up with work demands, aches and pains, an emergency surgery for Brian’s mom (she’s better now, but surgery at 84 is quite scary!) and limited sleep and did I mention aches and pains!!! It amazes me how quickly I can loose my joy and then that loss affects everyone I’m around. I tend to make life miserable for everyone! There’s a change in the climate and environment of my home, classroom, and with relationships. What is sad is that the things that steal my joy can somewhat be prevented. It’s not so much the “things/events,” but the accumulation that overwhelms me. As a free spirit, one would think that order is not on my radar. On the contrary, this free spirit needs order to function! Right now, there is NO order to anything in my life and I’m living minute by minute (literally!). Talking about TOTAL dependence on God! I have pushed and pushed myself beyond my limit, taken a breath, and pushed some more. (Yes, I know, it’s the song of my life!) I think…”If I can just make it 2 more weeks!” If you are a teacher, or anyone looking forward to the end of May, I know that is your thought as well! And at the end of these 2 weeks, I’ll finally get to finish unpacking the last month of my life and my kitchen, bedrooms, and studio may get back to order. Ahhh, happiness!.... Seriously?! Happiness from just getting some order?! I think not! After evaluating myself, tons of prayer, and climbing out of the mire, I have discovered that my happiness is not dependent on order alone! Physical pain can also get you down. As I get older (and I’m not that old!) I find that my body doesn’t quite work the way it use to! I’m loosing muscle mass and gaining body fat! Combine pain, stress, and lack of order along with a negative outlook and your sure to concoct a potion that is destructive to yourself and the ones you love most! Combine all of that with a lack of spiritual discipline and then you’re really in a pickle!
A lack of happiness runs deeper than that of disorder, stress and pain. Huffington Post has listed 7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People. When I read over the list, I had to say, I was looking in the mirror. Yep, I probably shouldn’t tell ya, but I sometimes find myself carrying these 7 habits around.
Here are the 7 habits of chronically unhappy people:
Your default belief is that life is hard.
You believe most people can't be trusted.
You concentrate on what's wrong in this world versus what's right.
You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.
You strive to control your life.
You consider your future with worry and fear.
You fill your conversations with gossip and complaints.
Now, some of these habits are less habitual in my life but I think everyone struggles with some form of this list. Did you notice that each sentence began with one little 3 letter word? You! The focus centers around yourself! There is a way to transform your woes into a “happier” and more desirable list and it begins with redirecting your focus.
It’s a way to find true JOY.
Studying the context and the depth of meaning of these three actions in Psalm 1: 1,2 can be a great boost
to shift your attitude and bring happiness. They are NOT to walk, stand, and sit!
Ps 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
Walk = accompany, or to come. It’s moving toward something.
Stand= abide, or to take one’s stand.
Sit=remain or dwell.
Do you notice the progression? Basically, the Psalmist is conveying the message that happiness (happy is the man) doesn’t come to those who approach, become aquatinted with, and then reside with those who have a negative influence. They are wicked=evil, sinners=offenders/sinful, scoffers=mockers (form of speech that is unhealthy and destroys.)
But…happy is the man who delights in the law of the Lord. The law here means Torah or direction/instruction. In His law he meditates (utters, speaks, growls, to moan, ponder, muse) day and night. My thought is that one who truly ponders to the point of deep emotion and then acts on God’s direction and instruction is one who finds pleasure or delight. It boils down to having a right relationship – vertically – with the Father. Then, horizontally, others are affected. Smiles are contagious and people are drawn to happy people! Your outward countenance will be radiant.
Those who look to him are radiant…Psalm 34:5a
Is God concerned with my happiness? I believe the answer is ABSOLUTELY! He is so concerned with it that He brings us happiness in some of the simplest things.
Look at Jonah 4:6
So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.
Psalms 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
Proverbs 17: 22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Now, back to why I chose this music video to share with you. When I first saw the video, I couldn’t help but think of David dancing before the Lord. He was so happy that the result was dancing. His heart was light. Nothing was held back as he danced with all of his might! That my friend is a happy heart!
2 Samuel 6:14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might;
When I choose to keep my relationship with Jesus close, and put others before myself, it is then that others take notice of the joy that is on my face and in my heart! Did you notice verse 18 of Romans 14?
For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
Serving Christ through righteousness, peace and joy is acceptable to God and causes others to watch and your actions bring approval. They become in agreement.
After this week of many graduations, Mother's Day, and special times with family and friends, let me remind you that true happiness can only be found in Christ. There will be many more occasions that your happiness will be hijacked. It is important to remember the words of James, "Count it all joy..." and don't forget to dance in the midst of it!
Romans 15:13 May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.
Amazing that when you put Jesus first. Others next and Yourself last that you have JOY!
When I went to church this past Sunday, I was surprised that the preacher spoke about happiness! I think it was conformation for me in writing this blog, but he had some interesting points and shared something that I had never picked up on!
Romans 14:17 "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
“God’s kingdom is characterized by these 3 words: righteousness, peace, and joy.
Through faith in Christ, we receive these blessings as “kingdom citizens.” Through the power of the Spirit, we can experience these blessings in our daily lives.
With a happier heart!
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