Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
The quest for happiness is a huge topic today, for all of us want to be happy and live happily each day. But is that really possible? The search for happiness is a quest for many people, even if they don’t verbalise it. Is there a secret formula for finding happiness? Some people spend their whole lives searching and never finding it.
Researchers have interviewed a lot of people asking them, What is the secret to being happier every day? or What things provide satisfaction in life? And from all this, researchers found there are four so-called ‘secrets’ which may surprise you. They found that individual happiness levels don’t match with money, success—or even good health. Here’s what does matter. And amazingly they match what Jesus and his apostles taught some 2,000 years ago. The results confirm the wisdom found in the Bible—let’s look at these so-called ‘secrets’.
The Four ‘Secrets’ to Happiness
1. Being Thankful
According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California at Riverside, people who make a conscious effort to count their blessings on a regular basis show marked improvement in their overall satisfaction with life. If they make an effort to see the positive things in their lives, they are going to be much happier. And if you make an effort to dwell upon the blessings you enjoy each day, and if you have a grateful heart, you’re bound to have the sunniest dispositions.
For the Christian, it is easier to be thankful because we know that what we have in this life comes from a God who chooses to bless us. What we have is not a matter of luck, blind chance or accident. What comes into our lives comes to us from Someone who has our best interest at heart and is daily demonstrating his goodness and loving kindness toward us. The Bible says:
- “Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning” (James 1:17 – GNT)
- “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 – NASB)
Every day and in every situation we can and should find something that we can thank God for. Even in difficult times, which often are for our spiritual betterment, we can find reason to be thankful. If you want to be happy in life, don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of always be grumbling and complaining about your life. We read in the Scriptures:
- “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (Psalms 136:1 – NASB)
- “Be glad in the Lord, you righteous ones; And give thanks to His holy name.” (Psalms 97:12 – NASB)
2. Do Unto Others
Want to feel good? Then do good. Donate blood, carry someone’s groceries to the car, or take a cup of soup to an ailing loved one. Little acts of kindness aren’t just beneficial for the person on the receiving end. They also provide a boost for you, the doer. Studies show that performing five good deeds a week can significantly elevate your mood.
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Jesus is the first person who actually taught the principle that doing good to others is actually good for ourselves. Paul, says in Acts 20:35, “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Selfish people are the most miserable people on Earth. People who only think about what they can get from other people and what other people can do for them are the most sad and depressing people that you can meet. Self-centred people are not happy people. As strange as it might sound, those who think about how they might help make others happy and promote the interests of others are the happiest folks you’ll ever know. No wonder we are taught, in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Those who have the richest lives are those whose lives are rich in good works for others.
3. Get Involved With Others
“It’s tempting, when things aren’t going well, to shut out the world and withdraw. But that’s a mistake. Two of the top five factors in determining happiness are family relationships and community”, says Richard Layard, author of Happiness: Lessons From a New Science. “Investing in others, and having them invest in you, gives your life purpose. It also ensures that you won’t sit at home every night wallowing in self-pity. So put yourself out there.”
Having a social network with people you care about and with those who care about us is very important in producing happiness. God designed our families to be such a social network but the truth is that not everybody comes from families who are caring and supportive. Not every family is closely knit.
Jesus spoke of another reason why our families might not provide that close social network—our religion. There are cases where members of our family do not like nor respect our spiritual convictions and they persecute us. Or, they may not want to have anything to do with us because of our difference of lifestyles. Mark 10:29-30 says:
Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.’
Jesus says that if our faith leads to our losing our family ties, he promises that we shall gain a bigger family. That bigger family is the Church. God designed the Church to be a close-knit social network in which we can find purpose in caring for and supporting each other.
We need to ask ourselves from time to time:
- How much do I value the Church family?
- Do I give of myself to the Church family?
- Do I allow the Church family to involve themselves in my life?
We read in the Bible:
- “So that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:25 – NASB)
- “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:10, 15 – NSB)
If we want happiness and a sense of fulfilment in our lives, we need to avoid isolating ourselves and make a conscious effort to follow God’s counsel in cultivating relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. Make the Choice for Happiness
Sonja Lyubomirsky reports that, according to research, only 10% of our well-being is determined by circumstances, while 40% is a matter of intentional activity. The bottom line? Happiness is a choice. Commit to living a better life every day, and chances are you will.
This point, here, is a lesson that all of us need to be reminded of. The circumstances that are beyond our control have little to do with our being happy. Happiness is based upon our response to life’s circumstances and our doing what is in our power to do to create a better life each day.
Each day, as we wake from our sleep, we need to adopt the attitude expressed in Psalms 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” The Apostle Paul commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always.” Again, in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
A daily commitment to live the Christian life is a commitment that leads to a better, happier and more fulfilling life. Its fruits are reaped regardless of outside circumstances because God blesses with happiness and peace that flows from within. The Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 3:10-12, “For, let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile, and let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer.”
This devotional has been sourced from “The Secret To Being Happier Every Day”, sermoncentral.com