Happy, happy, happy!
Those uplifting words come straight from the lips of one Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty Fame.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? Who doesn’t like to drink up the sun on a beautiful day and let go of all the cares of the world? Let’s face it—we all want to be happy, happy, happy!
The problem with happiness is that it is elusive. Once we think we have it, it escapes. I might wake up one morning feeling happy, but by lunchtime I have morphed into an ogre. Our emotions swing like a pendulum, depending on what is happening around us. Therefore, we need to learn to separate our feelings of happiness from our circumstances. We need to learn to keep going no matter what life throws at us. We want to have a purpose for living and a smile on our face even when we’re not “happy.”
We get there by fighting a battle. This battle is fought by removing our discontent through understanding the truth. The truth is that we often look for happiness in places where it cannot be found.
Impossible sources of happiness
People usually search for happiness in riches, recognition, and relationships. All of these lead only to a dead end.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible describes what happens when we look to riches for satisfaction:
Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.(Proverbs 23:5 NKJV).
Does that describe your search for riches? Just when you think you have them, they slip away.
I guess that’s why we are given the following advice:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19)
Recognition may lead to temporary satisfaction, but the excitement will wane. You may get your “fifteen minutes of fame” but soon after no one even knows who you are.
Last Sunday we finished the twenty-second winter Olympics. Some new heroes emerged. Records were broken, which means that the previous record-holders have dissipated into nothingness. Recognition and fame may be fun for a while, but it cannot provide lasting fulfillment.
Relationships with others will also fail in providing happiness. People will eventually let you down. Consider what David had to say:
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. (Psalm 55:12-13)
Even the king of Israel was let down by his friends.
So far, we seem to be coming up dry on how to win the battle for happiness. If it can’t be found in riches, recognition, or relationships, can it be found anywhere? Yes, it can, and you just might be surprised at where you will find it.
Surprising sources of happiness
The one place you would not think to look for happiness is in the middle of trouble. After all, we think of happiness as the absence of trouble. However, God seems to have a different view on the matter.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
And why would we be happy about this? Because the trials will help us to become “perfect and complete.”
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
I know this does not seem to make a lot of sense. Happiness in trials? Really? How can happiness be found in trials? The secret is that the happiness we desire has nothing to do with our circumstances.
The ultimate source of happiness
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:6-8)
It is not our possessions or circumstances that make us happy. Rather, it is the perception we have of our circumstances. This is where we have to win the battle for our minds. We must train ourselves to be content with the things that we have.
When something doesn’t go your way, you can make one of two choices:
Choice #1: Pout (this one is the most fun).
Choice #2: Accept it and move on.
We can’t always change our circumstances but we can change our attitude about them.
If you can do something about your problems, do it. But if you can’t, what good does it do to brood over it and live in anger?
I am not saying that we should be “happy-go-lucky” about every unfortunate turn in our lives. I am making the point that we can change our attitude when we can’t change our circumstances.
If nothing else encourages you to change your attitude when live throws you a curve ball, how about this?
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
Our problem is that we have been programmed to think certain ways about things. After all, if I don’t get what I want, I have a right to be upset. However, to experience happiness, we need to reprogram our minds to remember what is true.
And what is true? It is true that godliness is the main thing that I should desire, and this is entirely within my capabilities. It is also true that God is always with us.
If we can achieve the one thing we should desire and we can know that God is always with us, what excuse do we have to be unhappy?
This is the nineteenth article in the “Battle for Your Mind” series. Click here to see the previous article.
To see the next article, “How to Win a Losing Battle: 3 Steps to Overcoming Oppressive Sin,” click here.