Are You Happy?

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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 https://chataboutjesus.com

 

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.

True Positive: Day 14 – Laughter

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Laughter is good medicine! In the busyness of life, sometimes we forget to add a cheerful chuckle into our day. When you face a disappointment or make a mistake, yes you need to feel frustrated, but you can typically find the humor in the situation as well. If you look for the bright side of things, you will typically find it! Everyone needs a good guffaw now and then. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

Without a doubt, a good dose of humor levels some of the bumps in life and lightens the load of our day-to-day routine. When is the last time you had a good hearty laugh? Make the decision today that you will intentionally look for the delightful and funny side of the circumstances in your life. Be honest and realistic, but also allow yourself the freedom to smile and giggle. You will be surprised by the joy of walking on the sunny side of life.

 

Genuine laughing is the vent of the soul, the nostrils of the heart,

and it is just as necessary for health

and happiness as spring water is for a trout.

Josh Billings

 

 

A cheerful heart is good medicine,

But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 NIV

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

5 Positive Ways to Handle Disappointments

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Part of growing up is realizing that we all face discouragement, disappointments and sadness at times. The real question we must ask ourselves is, “When I face discouragement or dashed expectations, how will I handle it?” We have a choice. It is up to us to decide if we will use our gifts, talents and abilities in a constructive or destructive way. In our country right now we are seeing a display of emotions and reactions to the recent election results. Sadly, many people choose to use their time and energy in destructive ways. Now I’m not saying we can’t be sad when disappointments come our way. We should always make time to grieve the losses we face in life, but then we must take our frustrations and step in a positive direction. Here are five ways you can take the setbacks in life and turn them into something good.

  1. Find a cause you believe in and sign up to volunteer. If you feel deeply about an issue, do something about it in your own community. If the critics stopped using their mouths and started using their hands to effect change, our world would be a better place. Change happens from the ground up, so let’s put our actions where our mouth is and begin to take positive steps forward in our own communities.
  2. Change your focus. Instead of filling your mind with what makes you angry, concentrate on what is right about your life, your community and your country. There are plenty of good people and wonderful organizations that deserve our attention, rather than wasting precious time judging and criticizing.
  3. Develop a friendship with someone who is different than you. When is the last time you sat down with someone who has an opposing point of view, to listen and try and understand them? Step out of your comfort zone and get to know someone who lives, thinks and acts differently than you. You don’t have to agree with everything they believe, just seek to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do.
  4. Communicate with kindness. If you feel strongly about an issue, stop hurling insults and hateful comments. Instead, use your voice to reach out and communicate with thoughtful, wise and kind dialogue. If the protesters who are smashing cars and shouting profanities, used their energy to write out their ideas, concepts and concerns, they would be making giant leaps forward. Whether you are expressing your heart on social media or through a letter to the president, a kind discourse is much more effective than an angry vent.
  5. Let love rule your thoughts and actions. Love the person in front of you no matter what they believe or what kind of opinions they hold. Let us each examine our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus took it a step further and told us to love our enemies. Never underestimate the power of love to change a nation. What if today, we each chose to simply love each person we encounter with both our words and our actions? Take your anger, turn it around and move forward with forgiveness, love and respect toward every person. Love will change your heart and will change the world, one person at a time.

For more steps to handling disappointments, check out Karol’s book Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive

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Happiness or Success – Which Comes First?

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How often have you thought to yourself, I’ll be happy when…
…I get the next promotion.
…my co-worker changes her attitude.
…I don’t have to do all of this paperwork.
…the kids grow out of this stage.
…my spouse says he’s sorry.
…I finally get in shape.

Whether it’s our weight or our work or our relationships, it’s easy to think that when things change for the better, then we will be happy. But that’s not what current research shows. In fact, it is the exact opposite! Positive psychology now demonstrates that those people who are happy and more positive, are more likely to be successful in relationships and in life. In his best-selling book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares, “Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers.”

 

When people are satisfied and content on the inside, it shows through their actions, attitudes and words. Happy people brighten the day for those around them instead of waiting for others to brighten theirs. Business leaders would be wise to consider ways to encourage internal joyfulness and satisfaction within their ranks. And each of us must recognize that we can’t just sit around and wait for happiness, we must choose it and experience it’s benefits.

 
True, heartfelt contentedness comes from within. The famous apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul found his inner strength in the Lord. Where do you find yours?

 
For me personally, joyfulness is a natural outflow of having a deep and abiding relationship with God. Knowing that my sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus, recognizing that I am never alone, realizing that He has given me His spirit to guide and strengthen me – all of these reasons allow me to experience a hope, joy and peace within my life. Do I experience challenges and difficulties? You bet, but there is an inner strength that only God can provide.

 
If you are searching for happiness and an inner joy, I encourage you first to read the Bible for yourself and learn about the God who loves you. If you want to visit with someone about a relationship with Jesus go to www.chataboutJesus.com