5 Actions to Affect Your Happiness!
Happiness is something that many of us run after most of our lives. If I could only_______ then I would be happy.
Some seek situational happiness; a vacation, event, a new relationship, or something that’s happening that we can look forward to or point to, to make the rest of our life tolerable. We only find that after the event or relationship has ended we crash back into discontent with what’s happening in our lives.
In Christian circles we have heard it preached that our happiness or joy should be in Christ. Yet it seems no one can explain how to exactly get there in a common sense way and some of the meanest and grouchiest people seem to call themselves Christians.
Some preachers make it seem magical or too complex for us to understand. “The Lord…will come down from heaven and make you happy but only if you do 1.2.3.” Those that explain common sense ways of getting to joy in Christ are often considered less Christian because they aren’t suffering at the foot of the cross.
We read scripture after scripture that speaks to God’s love for us and how he wants us to have life. Yet sacrificed, are the years that continue to occupy our hearts and minds with the busyness of life or running after things that we believe will make us happy.
The whole point of God’s word is to change our minds and therefore change our actions. Mercy is God’s love freely given so that we (the Holy Spirit and our minimal efforts) can continue to change our minds without the law hitting us over the head.
Does Happiness = What’s Happening?
After being a happiness chaser for too many years, I started to discover that true happiness / joy are something we are fully in charge of and can only come by one method, our thoughts. Our thoughts are the steering wheel of our life. Our thoughts move our perspective, feelings, and desires and cause us to act. However one misplaced thought can change our feelings / perception of joy almost immediately.
He or she can’t make you happy. Money can’t make you happy. Marriage, children, a vacation, your own business, etc., all of these things are temporary ways to fill time till the day you have to confront yourself in the mirror and be in charge of your own happiness.
So how do you move to right thinking to affect your daily happiness / joy?
1. Align your perspective. Many times perspective is the reality many live within. It’s why beautiful girls call themselves ugly and why an aged man still believes he can play football like he is 20. An easy way to govern your daily joy is to consistently manage your perspective by focusing on aligning your joy with your core beliefs. What is your core belief about joy / happiness? If you are consistently basing your happiness on temporary things or things that change, your perspective will never be consistent and you will never find Joy. Joy and happiness is found by setting our minds on something greater and unchangeable.
2. Align your desires. The bible clearly gives descriptions of those who are happy: “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires, God will satisfy them fully!” Matthew 5:6 NLT. When I am doing what God desires, there is a natural side effect of being satisfied. I have to be honest and say I never saw myself writing, let alone for a Christian magazine. However, this is what God required of me, and yes, I’m happy.Pick one thing, you know God desires for you to do, and do it to the best of your abilities. So many of us try to do it all, pick one thing, and move on from there. You will find so much joy and happiness in it; you will start to be a pursuer of what God desires rather than happiness.
3. Be intentional. Being deliberate each day means to choose to create an environment of joy around you. I call it a buffer of peace. How? By choosing to enjoy life rather than consistently being frustrated with the outcomes of life. All of this can be done by reducing the negative outcomes through planning and being flexible. Time management is the biggest area that robs people of joy. Yet, those who have the biggest issue with time management often don’t have a realistic view of how long it takes to do something. Therefore they feel as though they are always catching up and they don’t allow themselves enough time, which leads to poor boundaries. Be intentional with your time by allowing yourself the freedom to push the unimportant things away. You can only do, what you can do.
4. Guard your joy. Being intentional also leads us into the guard. If you have no guard, you have no joy. The bible calls us to guard our hearts because it’s “where life starts.” Proverbs 4:23-27 in The Message translation gives us some easy points to focus on:
- Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
- Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
- Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.
- Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
- Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.
In essence you guard your heart when you don’t participate in carelessness but look straight ahead at the goal at hand, which in this case, is the pursuit of joy.
5. Let it go. Right now you are probably reading this because you want happiness. I can honestly say that these have been tested and the other four steps work incredible to start to stabilize your entire joy zone. The final piece is to let go. Let go of the negative thoughts or things that plague your mind. Often, when someone brings up something that is bigger than me or what I can handle, I know someone has got my back. God is greater than any negative thoughts, past pains, etc. But the HOW is always in the back of my mind. How can I let go. I am a steps guy, show me the steps, and I can do anything. So here is the final step, say this out loud “That’s God’s Deal. “ You can’t fix the past, old relationships, split yourself into three people to please everyone, or work yourself to exhaustion. When you are finally ready to yield control, speaking the words out loud is simplest way to let go and remind yourself that it’s God’s Deal. I can’t tell you how many times I use that in one day. One caution I would mention is that we always have the part of stewardship in our own life. I have observed some take this to the opposite extreme. Be mindful with your words and actions but also know that God is continually examining the condition of our hearts.
Your joy and happiness are under attack daily by this life. The great part is that you can choose joy and choose to guard it daily. We will all have times where we walk through a valley and it seems nothing will work. One thing stands true is that God is with us, and we are his deal.