Finding Lasting Happiness
Overall, are you happy?
Different Origins of Happiness
The article I wrote previously (read it here) about how to find happiness is definitely useful when you are having a bad day or are just feeling blue throughout the day. Sometimes you just need a lift and that is totally fine. Why should you be miserable when you can be more positive and feel better? However, the tips I suggested will not provide true, lasting happiness and satisfaction, in the way all of us crave it. The happiness I described in that article was dependent on circumstances. And the problem with depending on circumstances to give us lasting happiness is that our circumstances are always changing. The reality of life is that we go through difficult things sometimes. Sometimes things happen that we don’t want to happen, and that can take away our happiness. If we think happiness can only be achieved by something we do, and our circumstances, we are actually missing out on a lot.
Waiting for Happiness
I came to this realization throughout several years of my life when I believed that happiness was dependent on circumstances. Difficult things happened, as they inevitably do, and I let them get me down. I would always just try to “get past it” when things like this happened. I would think, “As soon as this is over, I can be happy.” But as soon as I would get through a difficult situation or a rough time, pretty soon something else would come along that would “steal” my happiness. I finally realized that if I was going to live like that, I would never experience lasting happiness. If my happiness was dependent on this rollercoaster life, that was how my happiness would be: like a rollercoaster. I would be riding high for a few seconds when something good happened, but once something not-so-great happened, I would feel my happiness begin to plummet. I needed something more stable in my life. Thankfully, I figured out that the only way I would experience lasting happiness, or more accurately, joy, in my life, was if I depended on something, or rather, someone, that never changed.
“I the Lord do not change” -Malachi 3:6
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10
Happiness that is Reliable
I realized that I did not have to allow my emotions to be like a rollercoaster. I could choose to refocus where my happiness was found. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). I chose to refocus where my happiness was found to Jesus and the life that he died to give me. Once I did that, and looked to him whether I was having a great day or a bad day, my life and happiness became more steady and sure. I chose to depend on Jesus for my happiness rather than my ever-changing circumstances. Rather than waiting for the stormy situation to be over, I chose receive the happiness of Jesus during the storm. Though this may seem like it was easy for me, it actually wasn’t at first. I was so used to depending on my circumstances for happiness. But I asked Jesus to help me to remember to look to Him whenever I was going through a rough time. I began to specifically pick out Bible verses to think of that would help me when I began to feel sorry for myself. It did take some effort on my part in the beginning to remember to receive the happiness of Jesus throughout the rough times. However, as time went by, it became much easier and more involuntary.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" -Jeremiah 29:11
Pursuing Peace and Joy
I do have to say that this process is so worth it. Why would I spend my life miserable and unhappy when I could enjoy my life? When you place Jesus and His plans at the focus of your life, your problems do not become so life shattering. You actually begin to feel a peace and steady joy that was not there before. Something “bad” will happen, such as a job promotion that you applied for but did not get. But you will begin to remember that everything has a reason and a purpose. Yes, you may not feel the greatest because of that circumstance, but it will not destroy you as it might have when you let your circumstances get the best of you. You will have hope and know that whatever difficult situation you go through will mold you into a better person. The key is to not give up and to pursue peace and happiness through Jesus. Don't let your circumstances control your happiness. If you focus your life on pleasing God and living for Him, you will begin to feel secure, steady, at peace, and will find lasting happiness.