Dr Jeff Miller has written a book called The Road to Happiness is always under Construction. It caught my attention, and I had a quick look at the review of his book because everyone wants to be happy, to have a slice of the happy life whatever that means.
This is a very popular topic and many books have been written on the theme of happiness. Not everyone agrees with what happiness is—like the Spanish proverb, There is no happiness; there are only moments of happiness. Psychologists have studied this theme—they talked to thousands of people, and have discovered that their personal motivation plays a big part in this: they are motivated to make good things happen in their own lives.
We want some sense of control over our own lives. Helen Keller said it well: ”When one door of happiness closes, another opens. But often we look so long at the closed door, that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”. Happiness can be an elusive thing—you think you’re happy until something upsetting happens, and then you’ve lost it.
Oklahoma kind of Happiness
Many people feel that their happiness is directly related to their happenings, in the way they want—but if it doesn’t work out that way, they become unhappy and dissatisfied. There are some people who have an ‘Oklahoma’ kind of happiness. Oklahoma is a popular musical and one song says, “Oh, what a wonderful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a wonderful feeling everything’s going my way.”
Happiness! You might be dissatisfied with life as it is, frustrated with circumstances, overpowered by problems. It’s why you work hard and play hard; throw yourself into your family or friends; why you keep the house just so; dash from one party to the next, updating Facebook and Twitter every five minutes; invest so much in your clothes and hair and beauty. Happiness is just out of your reach—so near and yet so far.
People spend so much time, money and energy trying to manipulate their happenings, But the reality is different. There comes a time when you realise that all your skills, and all your time, and all your energy, and all your money cannot manipulate your happenings to make you happy—and unhappiness is an inevitability!
Maybe we don’t really understand the road to happiness. Happiness is inward, it’s an inside job, and not outward. And so, it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.
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The Spiritual answer to Happiness
So, what is the solution? Where is this thing called happiness? I believe it comes naturally when we trust God for everything. Are you surprised by my simple answer? Have you struggled and fretted because your life wasn’t going the way you wanted? You thought you knew what would make you happy—but when you achieved that ‘whatever’ thing, it didn’t make you happy after all.
The world’s advertising gurus tell us what makes us happy: comfortable lifestyle, high salary, new car. But, if we fall for that, we get caught in what’s called ‘the loop of next time’: Maybe next time I’ll be happy. But it’s a loop that keeps on going round.
But trusting in the eternal God is different. It is deeply satisfying, and meets all our inner needs. How surprising it is to read Psalm 1, verses 1-3, called ‘The way to Happiness’:
Happy are those
who reject the advice of evil people,
who do not follow the example of sinners
or join those who have no use for God.
Instead, they find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord,
and they study it day and night.
They are like trees that grow beside a stream,
that bear fruit at the right time,
and whose leaves do not dry up.
They succeed in everything they do.
I know the Bible is not a book taken seriously by many today, but inside its pages are locked the secret to happiness—and it’s a spiritual answer. Christianity contains the keys to true happiness during our earthly existence. It is only in a relationship with God that we can find true inner peace and rejoice in the blessings of God.
We must learn to let go. We enjoy being in control. And while we need to take personal responsibility for our actions, we must bring ourselves to the point to where we move in complete faith that God will lead and direct our lives. He will stand by us and help us negotiate the difficult turns life may bring. He will see that our needs are met, no matter what. Trust in God is directly related to genuine happiness:
- Proverbs 3:5-6 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and He will show you the right way
- Proverbs 16:20 says: Trust in the Lord and you will be happy.
John A. Redhead, in his book Living All Your Life, said there are three kinds of blessings: pleasure, joy, and happiness. Pleasure comes from satisfying our physical senses. Joy comes from our association with others. But happiness results from a right relationship with God.