How to find Joy and Happiness
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Creating a new, happy you from the inside out
If the time has not already come, it is very likely that a time will come in your life that you realize you are not happy. This can happen to a child in elementary, middle school, high school or college, as well as an adult experiencing a mid-life crisis or "the change of life" (menopause) that women go through in their latter years. In fact, you may realize that you are not happy at any given time in your life. The important thing to understand during these times is that you can change. Even if you feel like you don't have any control over your life, believe me when I tell you that you have as much control as you are willing to take - by force if necessary. By force, I don't mean violence, but courage. Some of you may need to muster up the courage to get the help that you need to be free. I won't discuss abusive situations that may be robbing you of your happiness or safety because that is an entirely different subject. However, I do hope that the information offered in this article will empower everyone that reads it to make the changes necessary to be happy. Much of the wisdom I am going to share with you has its roots in the "Good Book," as some call it. However, you don't have to be religious to gleen wisdom, gain strength and receive inner peace from the information presented here. The purpose of the scriptures is to empower you with words of love, peace, power and assurance as your life is transformed and you begin to experience joy that gives happiness even when there is nothing in particular to be happy about.
Your happiness is usually determined by how you feel about yourself, your environment and your prospective future. So, let's look at these three areas to formulate a plan to re-invent yourself by creating a new you.
First, let's look at some of the things that need to take place from within.
- Choose Joy over Happiness: While happiness is a pleasant emotional response to events and circumstances that make you smile or laugh, joy is a state of deep contentment. I suggest that you live in contentment rather than for happiness. If your heart is filled with joy, you can create endless happiness for yourself and others. All you have to do is keep your mind on the things you have to be grateful for (having an attitude of gratitude) instead of the things you perceive to be going wrong in your life (stinkin' thinkin'). When you master this strategy, you are well on your way to to re-inventing yourself from the inside out. ...whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy and virtuous - think on these things. [paraphrased Philippians 4:8]
- Think the best of yourself: I am fearfully and wonderfully made! This is the declaration in Psalm 139:14. Use it to remind yourself that you are unique. There is no other human on the planet like you and the world would be a completely different place if you were not in it. Remember the movie, It's a wonderful life? When you begin to feel like you don't matter, kick that thought right out of your head because it is absolutely false.
- Be Courageous: Do not be fearful of the unknown. The unfamiliar road may seem dark ahead, but with each step you take, the road will get brighter as you accumulate allies, information, education and all the tools you need to succeed. Many people stop before they begin - thinking about all the things that might or might not happen. Don't sabotage yourself by imagining failure. Spend that same energy imagining success. Write down the steps that it will take to accomplish your goal, then take one step at a time to reach it. You will be surprised by the way life cooperates with you if you just have the courage to follow your dreams. Even if your goal seems impossible or you encounter obstacles, remember that all things are possible with God. You will witness a greater force operating in your affairs when you operate in courage and not fear.
- Always look your best: Don't leave the house looking any ole' kind of way, even if it's just to the grocery store. You never know who you will meet. Every time you walk out of the door you are making some kind of impression. Make it a good one. You will discover that you feel good when you look good. You don't have to be fancy, just uniquely you and well groomed (hair combed, breath fresh, face shaved, clean and well-fit clothing). Of course, the most important accessory is your smile. Just keep in mind that your enigmatic smile and good looks may attract wolves as well as sheep. So, always be cautious when meeting strangers and don't give any personal information until you get to know them (by that I mean Google and background check).
- Do things that you enjoy: Life is full of simple pleasures. Most of them don't take much effort or money. The problem is once you get into a slump, you don't feel like taking a walk, exercising, painting, writing or much of anything else, but when you're feeling down, that's the time to give yourself a boost. So, even if it's just sitting on the porch with a good book or a sketch pad or a journal or a bowl of ice-cream, get up, get out and do something that makes you happy. Connect with friends. Share ideas. You will be glad that you did. So I recommend having fun because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink and enjoy life, that way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 8:14-16 NLT)
These are some environmental factors that may affect your happiness.
- Employment and Job Conditions: This is probably the area where you devote the majority of our time. It is not always the happiest place to be. In fact, some of you hate your job and all or most of the people there (I'm just sayin') but to be fair, some people are blessed to have employment, employers and co-workers that they love and work that they thrive in. For those of you that are not happy on your job, but must spend a lot of time there, here are some suggestions: First, find the joy. Be grateful that you are gainfully employed, that you have transportation to get there, that you are healthy enough to work. Second, see the people as opportunities to spread joy. Of course, you have to have it to give it away. Give complements, be helpful, smile, be friendly. Third, spend quality time with the family when you are with them to overshadow the perception of "work" as your life. Take up a hobby. If it's profitable, that's a bonus and possibly an avenue to independence or a new career. Fourth, stay positive. Do not get into a rut. Change your attitude about everything you see as negative. Re-invent yourself.
- Home and Family: Some people would rather be at work than home for a number of reasons. Home can be a source of stress due to marriage issues, kids, pets, finances, repairs, etc. But, avoiding home will not make you happy. You may think you are happy at the bar or wherever you choose to be instead of home, but you are probably making the situation worse. As a family member, you have to acknowledge that if something is broken in the family, you are part of the problem. You might want to let your pride digest that before you read about what you need to do to in order to change things to be happy at home. Here it is: You have to dig deep for the joy. Think about the way you would feel if your family members were in a car accident and died that very day. I hate to be morbid, but that's the kind of appreciation you're going to have to get between work and home. Then, when you walk through the door you need to wear a smile and a servant's attitude. Yes, I said servant. To be clear, I am saying that after you have worked hard all day you need to go home and be a servant to the people you love the most in this world. That's if you want to be happy. This is why. You can change the atmosphere by caring. It is very easy to take the family for granted. You will be surprised to see how your life will change when you offer to set the table for dinner or offer to help the kids with their homework or simply engage in conversation with them. As you serve and make them happy with consistency, they will inevitably reciprocate and home will be a happy place. Even if they don't return the love as quickly as you would like, you can still be happy. The key to happiness at home, and this is important, is to give without expecting anything in return. Dig deep!
- Finances: These are tough economical times for the average family and even small businesses. Many families have gone from two income households to one or no income. Having no money can bring you down. It can cause you to lose your home, business, vehicles, toys and even deny you what is considered "the basics" in our western culture. But, no matter how down you may be, there are always people worse off than you. I know you have heard that before, but it is true, especially outside of this country. This may sound strange, but when you involve yourself in someone else's struggle by praying for them, encouraging them and sharing what little you have with them. You will be amazed at the strength it gives you to help someone else in the midst of your struggle and the renewed appreciation you gain for what you do have. Money makes the world go 'round, but it doesn't make you who you are. Money can buy things, but it cannot buy happiness. In every city there are free activities that you can explore when you don't have money and you never know what opportunities await you when you are living in joy regardless of your circumstances. In addition, many creative ideas and businesses were birthed from necessity. Instead of wallowing in thoughts of poverty and survival, use your thoughts wisely and write down some ideas about how you can make money doing those everyday things that you love like repairing cars, cooking or sewing. Use your time and energy to re-invent yourself.
Now, let's to examine your prospective future.
- Infinite Possibilities: Your future isn't here yet, so the possibilities are endless. Every successful business, product or venture began as an idea. Write down your ideas and dream big. See yourself possessing what you want. Create a visualization board with pictures of your goals. Write the steps necessary to have what you want. Don't worry about how it will all get done or how much money it will take. Just have an expectation that whatever you need will be supplied. Your future is being created with every step you take. You are re-inventing yourself daily. Create a new future for yourself that makes you happy and gives you lasting joy.
- Prayer: Prayer changes things. There are many scriptures in the Bible about prayer. In additon, scientific studies have been conducted to determine the effect that prayer had on the sick. People who pray know that it takes faith. What is faith? Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1]. A couple more scriptures that may encourage you in prayer are: Ye have not because ye ask not [James 4:2] and Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. [Matthew 21:22]. These are only two of many. Prayer can be powerful if you pray in faith.
- Speak to your destiny: If you have faith in God, there are promises that are given to you as a child of God. You can declare your destiny according to the will of God. Calleth those things which be not as though they were [Romans 4:17]. Also, you can speak against obstacles in your way to remove them. If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. [Matthew 17:20]
Now, you have the tools you need to re-invent yourself from the inside out. I pray that you enjoy the process of transformation and that your life is continually filled with joy activated by your good thoughts. Furthermore, I pray that your joy overflows into the lives of those around you so you can see the difference that your life makes and how important you are to the world.