Happiness is the feeling that comes over you when you can’t help but smile. The term is used in the context of life satisfaction, well-being, contentment, or joy. To differentiate, happiness is smiling because the sun’s out, joy is dancing in the downpour.
“Happiness is based on what is happening around us. Joy is based on what is happening within us.”— Margaret Minnicks
A sense of being happy often comes when people are successful, or safe, or lucky. Many consider relationships to be essential to happiness as healthy relationships with family, friends, and significant others improve the quality of life and bring joy to it.
Joylessness is like a termite, it eats away at something that was once whole, so the first manner of business is to identify what is preventing you from being happy.
What threatens our joy? Maybe disorientation from your life goals, doubt, or desires that have been misplaced. Maybe living in the past and comparing yourself to others.
Some find it hard to be happy because they see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.
Never let the sadness of your past or the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present.
Here are four ways to be happy:
The key to happiness is contentment. Count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have rather than looking over the fence at what you could have.
“Children are one of the greatest lessons in happiness,” one anonymous internet user once said, “constantly challenging us to enjoy the moment, as the next one will not be the same.”
“Content people don’t always have the best of everything, but they make the best of everything.”— Rachel Cruze
Dolly Parton illustrates this in her song “Coat of Many Colors.” Growing up, she had no money but was rich with the patchwork coat her mom made for her. “One is only poor only if they choose to be,” she sings.
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”— Socrates
If you’ve gone through a breakup, it’s good to enjoy the company of friends you made long before the lost relationship ever began. Find your identity not in what you have lost but in what you have always had.
As Anne Frank said, “Look at the beautiful things still around you and be happy.” There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.
“Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can’t put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don’t overlook life’s small joys while searching for the big ones.”— H. Jackson Brown Jr.
As another anonymous internet user said, “The smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect, it means I appreciate what I have and what God has blessed me with.”
Make Something of the Present
Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.
“If you think that when you take a vacation, or find the ideal partner, or get a better job or a nicer place to live or whatever it is, then you will finally be happy, that’s when you lose yourself in the future.”— Eckhart Tolle
As Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” But not just live wild and free. Live with conviction, meaning, purpose, and for others. You weren’t given another day in your life because you need it but because someone else needs you.
“The happiest and most effective people I know are those who use their talents to make a positive difference in others’ lives.”— Sean Covey
The best feeling of happiness is when you are happy because you’ve made somebody else happy. As the acronym goes: Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last.
Set Goals You Will Never Accomplish
During a college internship I did with my church, Cam Hill, co-founder of Éleos Ministries, came and spoke from 1 Peter 1:3-9 about joy.
He said that joy is a holy longing for Christ and His kingdom. Joy is a sign you are set on the kingdom. Joy keeps you on target and keeps you driven.
“Joy is distinct not only from pleasure in general but even from aesthetic pleasure. It must have the stab, the pang, the inconsolable longing.”-C.S. Lewis
You’ll never love something you don’t long for. You can’t long for something you don’t believe in. Joy cannot exist without faith and faith is tethered on something. Our confidence is anchored in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
“Faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience. It does not calm the unquiet heart, but is itself this unquiet heart in man. Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it. Peace with God means conflict with the world, for the goad of the promised future stabs inexorably into the flesh of every unfulfilled present.”— Jurgen Moltmann
This is why your life goals shouldn’t be ones you can actually achieve because you’ll eventually reach it and be dissatisfied.
If you spend the front end of your life longing to be married, when the giddiness of finally getting married wears off, you’ll go looking for the next thing. Make goals like the furtherance of God’s kingdom or conformation to Christ’s character.
Unless Jesus comes back within our lifetime, we will spend our entire lives working for a kingdom we won’t see in these bodies and Christ-like character we will only acquire in heaven.
Yet there is a happiness in knowing you are contributing to something greater than yourself.
“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see”— Hamilton, “The World Was Wide Enough”
I want to be known as someone who believed in the kingdom of God and gave her life in pursuit of it.
Abide in Christ
Each of the previous points ultimately comes back to Christ and your relationship with Him. As A.W. Tozer once said, “Trying to be happy without a sense of God’s presence is like trying to have a bright day without the sun.”
Elements of this truth are present all throughout scripture, specifically in Psalms. “In your presence is abundant joy,” Psalm 16:11 says in the HCSB. In the ESV, Psalm 63:5-6 says, “My soul will be satisfied…when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.”
The secret of a happy life is giving God the first part of your day, the first priority to every decision, and the first place in your life.
When it comes down to it, Christians should be the happiest people on the planet because our biggest problem has been solved. We have been saved! We have been redeemed!
We have so much to sing about we will fill eternity with praise. Christ is risen, therefore everyday should be a good day.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18