An amendment of the United States constitution enthrones freedom which includes an article that each citizen has the “right to pursue happiness.” Not only is this the right of American citizens, it should be the right of every citizen of the world. It is what is inborn within every individual. It is what we want. It is our inner most craving. We want to be happy. Unfortunately, happiness is what everyone wants, but few know where to find it.
A little girl was once sitting at the breakfast table with her mother when the sun made its presence known by rising over the distant horizon. As its morning light beamed through the cottage window and on to the spoon of the child who was sitting with her mother at the breakfast table, she responded with joy to her mother, “Mama, I have a spoonful of sunshine!” Solomon was right, “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Pv 17:22). Every morning we need a big dose of sunshine medicine to brighten our day. We should arise every morning with the declaration, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24). Upon making this declaration, we must make a decision that each day of our lives will be a day of happiness.
It is not totally true what Menchken said, “The only really happy folk are married women and single men.” Nor is it totally true what another proverb stated, “Happiness comes by filling a child’s stomach, a woman’s wardrobe, and a man’s wallet.” And again, happiness is not really acquired as a frustrated younger brother said, “Happiness is having a sister with laryngitis and a TV with only one channel.” True happiness does not revolve around material things nor pleasurable events. It is almost as someone once said, “Happiness has a habit of pursuing the person who feels grateful to his God, comfortable with his conscience, in favor with his friends, in love with his labors, and in balance with his banker.” But someone correctly stated, “The secret of happiness is learning to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable.”
In a secular and materialistic world, true happiness is elusive. The secular person unfortunately looks to events and activities that will entertain, but will not bring longlasting peace. He forgets that happiness is not something you experience. The materialist always looks for the right possessions, forgetting that happiness is not something that can be bought or owned. Happiness is not yearning for the things that we feel will make us happy. Money cannot buy us happiness. It only prolongs our search in the wrong direction.
Why do people struggle to find that which seems to be so elusive. Too many people find only momentary happiness in things and activities, and subsequently deceive themselves into thinking that they have acquired their goal. When things become old and activities no longer satisfy our thirst for inner happiness, we often add to our collection of possessions or change to performing other activities in order to get another “happiness fix.” It is too often too late after a lifetime of such misguided searching that we come to the realization of Solomon’s wisdom, “Vanities of vanity, all is vanity” (Ec 1:2).
An activity oriented culture is always afraid of being bored. The inhabitants of such frenzied cultures have concluded that their happiness is found in their ability to keep themselves involved in a host of events and activities. They are fearful of not having enough to do lest they discover that there is an emptiness inside that cannot be filled with possessions or an assortment of activities. True happiness is an elusive dream to the one who keeps himself busy with earthly diversions. The secularist must remember that happiness is not discovered in the things we want. Seneca wrote, “If you would make a man happy, do not add to his possessions but subtract from his desires.”
Contrary to a secular and materialistic world that would drive us to seek happiness in the wrong places, I would suggest the following to begin one’s road to a happy disposition of life. These simple keys will at least point one in the right direction to what is often an elusive goal for too many people, the goal of being happy.
A. Happy people develop a happiness habit.
Ninety-five percent of our behavior is simply habit. We subconsciously do that which we have always done. Since this is true, we must develop a habit of simply being happy. We need a happy habit. Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “The happiness habit is developed by simply practicing happy thinking. Make a mental list of happy thoughts and pass them through your mind several times every day.”
The desire to be happy is the first step to becoming happy. Former President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” You must first make up your mind to be happy, and then set yourself to the task of accomplishing your desire for happiness. Sound too simple? It’s not.
I once found a recipe for happiness. I do not know the source, but I am sure the one who wrote it knew the key to happiness.
… 2 heaping cups of patience,
… 1 heart full of love,
… 3 hands full of generosity,
… a dash of laughter,
… 1 head full of understanding, …
… sprinkle generously with kindness; add plenty of faith, and mix well. Spread over a period of a lifetime, and serve everyone you meet.
Not bad advice. This is certainly what Paul meant when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say, rejoice!” (Ph 4:4). Solomon was again right when he said, “He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast” (Pv 15:15).
Most people can be happy in times when everything seems to be going right, or going their way. But this surface happiness is tried in the balance of life and found wanting when things go wrong. In the brochure, Attitudes Unlimited, which was written for executives of corporations in Dallas, Texas, it was stated, “Most anyone can smile when everything goes along smoothly … but the valiant one is that person who can still smile when adversities beset him from all directions.”
Christians must remember that they were not baptized in vinegar. Nor should they look as if they have been eating out of a milk churn. A long face does not come with age. Truly happy people have learned that happiness originates from that which is within, not from that which affects one from without. Once happy habits are developed from within, then our environment has little effect on our true inner emotional or mental state of being. It is for this reason that the happiness habit must come from our inside work, regardless of our past or our present circumstances.
[The above is from Book 21, than can be downloaded from the link below: