Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
It was the 13th century philosopher Thomas Aquinas who said something quite simple. He said, “There is within every soul a thirst for happiness”. And I agree with him. But a lot of people are searching for the key to happiness.
The world does a lot of looking for happiness—people are constantly looking for things to make them feel better. You could go into a pub for Happy hour and forget all your troubles—but what would make you happy? More money or a better job? Nothing wrong with that—but you are the only one who can control your level of happiness.
Happiness comes by a choice—not by chance or luck or where you were born. Similar to what Abraham Lincoln used to say, “Most people are about as happy as they choose to be”. What is happiness anyway? Socrates taught happiness comes through knowledge and Sigmund Freud taught it was available through insight. But both men could not find happiness.
Happiness is not about how you feel. You must choose to focus on what you have, and not on what you lack. Maybe we try too hard to be happy—and there could be a simple solution. One Brazilian poet said, “Happiness is like a feather flying in the air. It flies light but not for very long”.
Happiness is the Consequence of Our Perspective
A lot of us rate the highest level of happiness when we spend time with our loved ones, being out in nature, and accepting where we are right now. Maybe it’s being present now and finding joy in every moment. One young lady said she felt happiest when she made pancakes with her husband on Saturday mornings. Their schedules are so busy it’s the only chance they get to be together. Happiness is the consequence of our perspective, thoughts, and actions.
Happiness is a choice in perspective—what is your outlook? Randy Alcorn says, “Those who sit around waiting to be happy shouldn’t hold their breath—it will likely be a long wait.” True happiness comes from having a relationship with God, our Creator and Jesus his Son. That’s where true and lasting happiness comes from—not in stuff we build up here on earth. When we know, love and serve God, his peace invades our heart and we can see life in a different way.
Christian psychiatrist Frank Minirth and Paul Meier say in their book Happiness is a Choice: “You don’t do what you do because you feel the way you feel—you feel the way you feel because you do what you do.” In other words, your actions will determine how you feel. To become happy, do what happy people do.
The more joy or gratitude crosses our brains the more joy or gratitude possesses our attitudes. The more anger or fear crosses our brains the more that anger or fear becomes our default response to life situations. Attend a church of your choice and join a Bible study group of like-minded people who will nourish your soul.
Follow Jesus’ Example
Early in life C.S. Lewis, the great intellectual giant, was also intensely pessimistic about the possibilities of finding happiness. He thought he would never find happiness. His beloved wife died of cancer, and he was a devastated man. Yet his biographers and friends said his life was profoundly transformed in his thirties.
Lewis said, “What does not satisfy when we find it, must not be the thing we were desiring.” Lewis started looking beyond the material sources and discovered the source of happiness was not an idea but a Person. He found Jesus Christ. He wrote an entire book about this discovery entitled Surprised by Joy.
Jesus said these words as recorded in John 15:10-12, translated in the modern The Voice version:
Follow My example in obeying the Father’s commandments and receiving His love. If you obey My commandments, you will stay in My Love. I want to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this.