Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
It’s a fact of life that some people are never happy—no matter what is done for them. It seems they are stuck somewhere, and no matter how hard their family or friends try, they are miserable and unhappy.
I had a chuckle at this story of a man who was stranded on an island. His boat was shipwrecked. For a while he was all alone until he was finally rescued. The ship’s captain said, “What are those three huts you have here?” The survivor said, “Well, that’s my house over there”. “Yes, but what’s the next hut?”—the captain was keen to know. “Well, I built that hut to be my church”. The captain was now intrigued, so he asked again, “Fair enough. But what about the other hut?” “Oh,” the stranded man said, “that’s where I used to go to church, but I got upset and left.”
Probably an object lesson here for people who would never be happy even if they were the only members in the church they attend.
But I’m thinking more broadly than just the church. Yes, sure—there are unhappy people there as well. But in general terms, it doesn’t matter what you do to help—some people are never happy. One neuropsychologist I heard about this explains it like this:
The problem is that the brain is very good at building brain structure from negative experiences. We learn immediately from pain — you know, “once burned, twice shy.” Unfortunately, the brain is relatively poor at turning positive experiences into emotional learning neural structure”. (Rick Hanson — neuropsychologist and member of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center’s advisory board )
When you don’t actively pay attention to the good, your negative memories are in a position to triumph. Over and over and over. It’s almost like a leak in your positive memory bank. Nothing is ever any good. Everything is gloomy and bad and negative. Maybe we all need to learn the importance of being grateful and positive about everyday’s experiences.
You know what it’s like being around people who whinge all the time! Some people—just a few—will never be happy. No matter what they earn or do, it never quite makes the grade. They see what others have and try as they may never make the grade. It’s like they’re stuck somewhere—or it could be a depressive illness that holds them back.
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Nobody Wants to Be Unhappy?
A great example is J.K. Rowling. She has made life more enjoyable for millions upon millions of children and adults through books, movies, and merchandise. Her Harry Potter books are as classic as anything Walt Disney ever produced and will go down in history as one of the best fables ever told.
Yet, she sometimes suffers from debilitating depression. That is why she created the ‘dementor’ characters in the Harry Potter series, which are a metaphor for the sadness and unhappiness that sometimes weighs on her despite all of the great things in her life. Like depression, dementors “…feed on the positive emotions, happiness and good memories of human beings, forcing them to relive their worst memories.”
I’m not judging J.K. Rowling at all—I’m merely pointing out what is on the public record. You can be a world leader in one particular area, and yet still not be happy. What’s the issue here?
You might be saying, Wait a minute; nobody wants to be unhappy. That may be true; nobody may want to be unhappy. But, many people are comfortable being unhappy. Some people are comfortable being unhappy because they don’t want to go through the pain of changing. It is hard making the necessary changes to become a happy person. After all, dying to self is hard.
Experiencing Happiness—An Attitude Adjustment
But consider the Christian faith and its teachings. Take them into account and they will change your life. God’s Word, the Bible, teaches us to be content with what we have:
And religion does make your life rich, by making you content with what you have. We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we won’t take anything with us when we leave…you belong to God”. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 – CEV)
Sometimes, we just have to acknowledge the fact that we don’t have everything we want; but we do have everything we need in Christ. Philippians 4:19 (CEV) says, “…God will take care of all your needs with the wonderful blessings that come from Christ Jesus”. Learn to want what you have and you won’t be so concerned about what you don’t have.
Some people are never content with their current circumstances. They always want more or better. The apostle Paul said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Learning to recognise the blessings you already have is key to happiness. Those blessings may or may not be material possessions or good looks. Take some time to consider your blessings. And you won’t be sad for very long.
Most of us need an attitude adjustment to experience happiness. Happiness is a choice rather than a result of circumstances and surroundings. Being happy doesn’t mean everything has to go your way. We’re going to have problems in life, but ultimately we have victory in Jesus Christ. He wants to be your friend and Saviour.