Happiness — A universal hope

Tips for Life

by Alan Bailey

Happiness is something everybody looks for. I can’t imagine anyone climbing out of bed in the morning saying to themselves, ‘I hope today turns out to be unhappy.’

A recent survey of a cross-section of Australians showed that about two thirds claimed to be relatively happy. They also felt satisfied with their health. As both happiness and health have the habit of wavering and are subject to total change, the figures are not all that decisive. The one third left are a considerable crowd of people putting up with their lot in life.

Happiness formulas
Over the years countless schemes have been put forward promising to turn life around and make it rosy. Such advice is doomed to be mostly unworkable because happiness is not easily defined and easily retained. It is a by-product rather than a product. We’ve often been told, ‘Make someone else happy and you will go away with some yourself.’ Setting out to do things to make yourself happy seems to be doomed.

Others have pointed out that our attitude of mind has much to do with how we feel. Abraham Lincoln said that people are about as happy as they choose to be.

Some suggestions
Let me add three points which I’ve found to apply:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Many people condemn themselves roundly about perceived failures. They feel inferior to others and entertain a certain self-rejection. Remember, you are a unique creature of value, made by God.
  • Get out of the guilt trap. We should be hard on ourselves for the right reasons. Such things as our neglect of God, our bad thoughts, words and actions trap us in guilt that pulls us downward. Our consciences forbid our happiness. There is but one answer. Jesus bled and died for our sins. Forgiveness and cleansing make for huge relief and new joy. All is obtainable.
  • Have something to look forward to. Humans need a pleasing prospect. Having none is miserable. Christians have a great advantage here. Our Master has gone to prepare an eternal home for us. We go to be with Him. Lasting happiness is assured — no one can take it away.

It has been said that happiness can be a surface thing, whereas joy is deeper and steadier. The Bible shows that God is making joy a goal for all who belong to Him. We can enjoy it now, but then, so much more hereafter.

Yes, happiness is a choice. Having what God offers to us in Christ involves a choice.

What will it be?

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