Are You Happy?



March 20th is International Day of Happiness, so I thought we could take a little time this week to consider the subject of happiness and what it looks like in our lives. Ask any two people to describe what happiness means to them, and you will typically get a wide range of answers. Some talk about experiences that lead to happiness, or situations that detract from happiness, while others mention the relationships that bring happiness into their lives.

How would you describe what it means to be happy? Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word Happy is, “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” Positive psychologists typically uses the term, “subjective well-being” when referring to happiness. The word itself has its origins in ancient Greek and is closely related to the concept of fortunate, well-off or blessed.

No matter how we define it, almost everyone wants to experience it. Studies show several habits that are generally found in happy people. They include:

  • Relationships
  • Acts of Kindness
  • Exercise and Physical Well-being
  • Sense of Purpose or Flow (Using your gifts and talents)
  • Spiritual Engagement and Meaning
  • Strengths, Virtues and Moral values
  • Positive Mindset: Gratitude, Optimism, Hope

The question is, can people learn how to be happier? The answer is YES! Happiness is not a stagnant trait that only a few lucky people seem to own. We can all grow, improve and make positive changes. Take a thoughtful look at the seven factors listed above. Are there any areas you could work on or strengthen in your life?

It is important to recognize that  no matter what your circumstances look like, you can find ways to increase your level of happiness despite your challenges. In other words, life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for you to be happy. I have met people (and I’m sure you have too) that are miserable, and yet their life circumstances are comfortable. I have also met people who live in very challenging circumstances, but choose to have a grateful and optimistic outlook, employing many of the principles above.

Let’s face it, life ebbs and flows with sadness, joys, difficulties and sweetness. No one experiences happiness 100% of the time. It is important for each of us to grieve our pain and losses as well as enjoy the delights of life. The good news is that we can make deliberate choices that move us in a happier direction and allow us to positively influence the world around us.

Although happiness is fleeting, there is a joy we can experience deep within us. The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” He points us to something beyond the happiness that this world can offer – the joy of the Lord. There is no greater joy than knowing that we are loved and forgiven as we place our faith in Christ and what He did for us on the cross.

This Easter, I encourage you to look to the only One who can bring lasting love, joy and peace into your life. To learn more about a relationship with Christ visit


Join me for my new series entitled “Increasing Happiness,” as we look at the seven habits of happy people.  Click the follow button on the right, so that you will receive a weekly email.

Chasing Happiness


Spring in Dallas just doesn’t make sense to me.  On any given day we may have a freeze warning at nightfall and 80 degree temperatures by the very next afternoon.  It’s crazy! They say if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just stay around for a couple of hours and it’ll change.

One March morning several years ago,  I stepped outside to get the newspaper and was hit with blizzard-like conditions. Well it may not have been that extreme, but it was one of those take-your-breath-away cold fronts that felt like a blizzard to this thin-blooded Southern girl.  By mid-afternoon of that very same day I was sitting out in the garden reading and enjoying some good ole Texas sunshine.

Personally, I love to be outside and love to read, so when I can find the time to enjoy both it is a happy afternoon. On this particular spring day, my personal reading agenda was the book of Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible.  Written by the apostle Paul while he was a prisoner in Rome, one could easily assume Philippians would be a real downer of a book.  On the contrary it is quite a delightful and uplifting read. In fact, the theme of joy sort of oozes through the pages from this unlikely author.

As I relaxed and tried to picture how Paul could possibly write such a positive message from a prison cell, I glanced up to see a white butterfly dancing around our garden. It was amusing to watch this fluttering creature touch a flower here, then off again to another flower there, then here, then there, then back to where it started again. It never stayed in one place for more than a few seconds as if it were pursuing something it would never find. Just as quickly as it appeared in my garden, it was off to the next field of flowers.

Observing the illusive dance of the white butterfly made me think about how illusive life’s pleasures can be. Just like this flitting creature, I realized how easy it is for me to flit, flutter and fly from one activity or person to another trying to find sweet nectar to satisfy my longings for significance and joy. I’m guessing you have felt those same feelings a time or two as well. The pursuit of happiness is common to us all.  The question is where does the chase stop, or does it? Are we fooling ourselves into thinking that there is something out there that will enrich our being and fill the hunger of our souls?

The irony of my butterfly encounter on the Spring day in Dallas, was that I was sitting there reading a book which highlights enduring qualities which transcend shifting circumstances and fleeting feelings. Paul (yes, from his prison cell) described a resilient joy, a consistent contentment and a peace which passes all understanding in his letter to the Philippians. Unlike the flitting butterfly, Paul taught the early Christians how to experience a true satisfaction of the soul.

So we must ask ourselves, “Does God call us to pursue happiness or to pursue Him and His purposes in our life?” I am convinced that our pursuit of Him leads us to experience a heart full of joy and true contentment as we live out His purposes in our lives. I want to encourage you to read the book of Philippians this week and consider what God teaches you about Himself.

“To seek God is to desire happiness; to find him is that happiness.”



This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. The DVD is on sale this month for $5. Click Here for more information.

Happy Place

You will probably have no sympathy for me when I tell you that I spent this past week in Aruba. Beautiful beaches, perfect weather, delicious food – no wonder it’s called “The Happy Island.” Who wouldn’t be happy in such peaceful surroundings? Yet despite the temporary bliss of this island paradise, we all know that true happiness isn’t about finding the perfect sandy surroundings. Happiness is ultimately a matter of the heart. The Bible gives us a picture of joy and delight rooted in God Himself. The psalmist declared:

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.  (Psalm 1)

Psalm 119 continues this joyful principle:

Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
    and search for him with all their hearts.

And Proverbs gives us this reminder:

The hopes of the godly result in happiness. Proverbs 10:28

Jesus spoke of happiness in His famous Sermon on the Mount. The word “blessed” literally means, happy, supremely blessed, to be envied and spiritually prosperous with life-joy granted to the person who experiences salvation. Here’s what He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:3-9)

 Happiness begins when we come to the end of ourselves (poor in spirit) and find our hope and strength in the One who came to give us joy and peace. Yes, Jesus is the One who makes our hearts truly happy. He is not a paradise island, rather He is our rock, our righteousness, our refuge, our salvation.

To learn more about what the Bible has to say, check out Becoming a Woman of the Word.