How Can I Be Truly Happy?
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What would it take to make you truly happy? Would it involve money, fame, possessions, or a total body makeover? The world tells us we have to be wealthy, famous, skinny, popular, and powerful to experience happiness. The Bible tells us just the opposite.
People in Jesus’ day experienced the same confusion we do about the source of happiness. They believed happiness depended on wealth, power, or status. Even Jesus’ closest friends fought over who would have positions of importance in His kingdom.
Jesus believed it was important to clear up any confusion. His teachings on a mountainside were revolutionary, turning everyone’s thinking upside down. But before we see what Jesus said about true happiness, let’s examine what prevents it.
- Fear—Worry and fear are unwelcome twins. The greatest by-product of these two is an absence of joy. When we’re constantly fearful, we worry, and when we’re worried, we miss the positives in life. Many people waste energy and opportunities worrying about things that never happen. Happiness slides by unnoticed.
- Ingratitude—Have you ever been around those who are critical of everyone and everything? Nothing pleases them and it’s exhausting to try to have a relationship with them. People who are ungrateful rarely experience happiness. They’re too busy complaining and pointing out problems in others to appreciate what they have.
- Selfishness—A me-centered person has a hard time grasping happiness. Those who are self-centered have tunnel vision. They’re always working hard to make sure they receive the respect, attention, and material possessions they think they deserve. The selfish rarely enjoy the pleasures of daily life.
- Jealousy—Often we’re so busy looking at what others have that we fail to notice our blessings. You can waste a lot of time wishing for things that really won’t make you happy once you get them. Often we magnify and idolize the true picture of someone else’s life.
Jesus’ teachings on happiness are far different from what the world claims. In fact, to some, His instructions were senseless.
Secrets to Real Happiness:
- Walk humbly—It’s hard for those who are proud to understand humility, but it’s a quality Jesus stressed. He condemned those who elevated themselves. God commands in the Old Testament, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” ( ).
- Live a God-controlled life—Putting God at the center of your life goes hand in hand with humility. Seeking God in decision-making and all life activities leads to happiness because this puts us in line with His will for our lives. It takes effort to pursue a righteous life. It’s our nature to put “self” first, so make the decision each day to focus spiritually and put God in the center of your activities and decisions ( ).
- Enjoy salvation—As humans, we have a hard time seeing the “big picture.” We’re usually focused on what’s happening at the moment and forget we have promises regarding help for today and hope for eternity. Part of enjoying salvation comes from tapping into the source of strength we have through faith in Christ. Remember, any frustrations or difficulties you’re experiencing now won’t last forever. “Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth” ( a).
- Be satisfied—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” ( ). Learning to recognize 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.
- Exhibit mercy/compassion—If we want to be treated with compassion, we have to be tender-hearted toward others. Mercy may not be part of your personality make up, but Jesus didn’t consider it an option. So begin to cultivate mercy and compassion toward others.
- Seek peace—Speaking ill of others usually comes back to haunt us. It’s easy to gossip or slander when you have everyone’s attention and are getting laughs with your comments. Or perhaps your words regularly anger others when you could have kept silent. Think first. Words can wound worse than physical blows. How would you feel if you were the target of someone’s words? God holds us accountable for hateful words that wound or stir up trouble. Eventually people will begin to distrust you or avoid you. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” ( ).
- See positives—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 Christ. “While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world” ( b).
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