What is happiness?
“Jean Anne is such a somber child.”
I overheard this statement from one of my mom’s dear friends. She was talking about the 7 year old me. I never forgot it.
Childhood experiences and beliefs attached to our minds and hearts like superglue. Many times we aren’t even aware of their power. As an adult I am amazed that I continue to get to know myself better.
“Is that really like me?” I will ask my hubby or close friend when realizing some characteristic about myself with new insight. I need a trusted outsider to confirm it. My blind ego stumbles upon a new awareness that I never saw before and I am shocked with surprise.
Somber? Me? As an adult I made the decision to choose happiness. My default switch is set on pessimistic so I have to actively push it towards optimism. Sometimes I feel like I am swimming against the waves of gloominess and being too serious in order to splash in the clearer waters of joy.
“Some people think it is difficult to be a Christian and to laugh, but I think it’s the other way around. God writes a lot of comedy, it’s just that [God] has so many bad actors.”
– Garrison Keillor
Happiness is contagious. Here is an interesting report about how happiness spreads between friends.
Psychologists and physicians have long known that happy, cheerful people enjoy better health. It goes back several thousand years to Solomon who observed that “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
I discovered a cool web site a while back called The Secret Society of Happy People. Pamela Johnson is the founder and the genius behind this month to celebrate happiness. I am joining them.
Now I am not trying to be shallow or avoiding the harsh sinful side of life. I am choosing to focus on joy this month.
- Explore its gifts.
- Smile more.
- Share some happiness with others.
- Savor the present moment with fewer distractions of the past or concerns about tomorrow.
- Focus on showering joy on others, not just me.
I believe God invites me to explore happiness with him and with his delightful help he transforms my misshapen clump of discouraged clay I once was into a merry masterpiece.
“I am quite happy to be called an optimist, but my optimism is not of the utopian variety.
It is based on hope.
What is an optimist?
I can answer for myself in a very simple fashion:
He or she is a person who has the conviction that God knows, can do, and will do what is best…”
– Pedro Arrupe
What makes you happy? I would love to hear about what brings you joy.
Jean Wise says
ahhh, thank you Nancy. Like I said I have made the choice to be hopeful and keep my eyes on God, not my fears and doubts.
Jean Wise says
wow you are brave to ask others that and how insightful listening to how they answers. I will say to my hubby – I’m not that way and when he just laughs I think oh no, I better relook. I think it is a lifelong process to really get to know yourself. Great comment, Mary!
Jean Wise says
Thanks for the encouragement, Lyli. God has really helped me shed the pessimism and walk more in the light of hope with Him. mmm, merry hearts seem to be calling you. better listen.
Nancy Ruegg says
SO many things bring me joy! Family, friends, ice cream, clouds, words, hugs, birds, coffee, color, reading, writing (when it’s finished!)…I’d better stop. Your posts bring me joy, Jean. You put words together in such delicious ways! Such combinations as “push toward optimism” and “merry masterpiece” illustrate what I mean. LOVE iT! Also appreciate the wonderful quotes you share with us. Garrison Keillor’s statement is a perfect example. Thank you, Jean!
I took a class once that prompted the students to “ask 10 people what you are best at”. I sent out emails starting with those I trusted most, then asked those who I consider associates, then finally those whose answers I feared. I found the responses to be shocking. Most of the answers actually defined me and but there were some from ones that I thought would have known me best that really don’t know me at all.
I really feel that assignment changed my life perspective. It changed my focus from trying to attain success as I was chasing it, to one of wanting to leave something value in the heart of others.
Both believer and unbelievers have times when they are both happy and unhappy. The difference with us is that even when we experience great sorrow, we still have Jesus’ joy deep in our hearts!
Lots of love XX
Lyli Dunbar says
Jean, I would never picture you as a negative person after reading your blog. I am always so encouraged by your blog.
This is the 2nd post I have read this week pointing me to the verse about “a merry heart.” Don’t you love it when God repeats Himself?
I find a lot of joy through music. Worship calms me and reminds me how blessed I am to be His.
Chrissy Marcum says
for one thing: your blogs bring me great joy! ~ love ya