How long have you been dissatisfied with life?
Does frustration hold you captive while your heart screams for freedom?
I know what it’s like to feel like a prisoner in your own life.
That inner turmoil is a cruel invader when life seems out of control.
Even on your best days, happiness is stifled by the traitor within.
Like a sneaky spy, your heart discovers hidden assassins lurking in the shadows.
Sometimes it's regret over the past. Other times it’s worry about the future.
One day you're too busy to sleep. The next day you’re bored to tears.
Somedays your failures kick you around the block. Other days you’re complacent and could care less.
Something always pops up to kill your joy.
Is there any hope of ever escaping this funk?
Is finding happiness the ultimate mission impossible?
Have people told you to just “choose” happiness--as if it was that simple?
Could it be?
Life is too short to waste any more time chasing an invisible yearning.
It’s time your quest for more gets satisfied once and for all.
In this article, you’ll discover what true and lasting happiness is and how to harness it to transform your life.
DEFINITIONS OF HAPPINESS
Many people define happiness as the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative emotions.
Is happiness that simple?
Or is it more complicated?
That definition brings up more questions than answers.
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” - William Shakespeare
Is Shakespeare saying you determine your own happiness?
If he’s correct, then happiness is a choice.
But who is Shakespeare that we should believe him?
Dictionary.com defines happiness as:
The Bible is my authority for defining the realities of life and it also uses the terms contentment and joy as synonyms for happiness.
The New Testament word for “happy” is the Greek word “makarios” and it’s an adjective.
In the Beatitudes, “makarios” is the term “blessed” and is used to describe particular people. In a different passage, the same word is also used to describe God.
Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
1 Timothy 6:15
He who is the blessed (happy) and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Blessed means happy.
The Bible says God is happy.
God is also perfect. And because of that, He has no unmet desires. He is perfectly satisfied with all things all the time. He is always perfectly happy.
And since humans are made in God’s image they are capable of feeling incredible happiness.
God designed people for happiness and He is the ultimate source of happiness.
But sin entered the world and scarred God's design.
Yet in love and mercy, God provided a way to redeem sin and restore joy.
Redemption and happiness are found through faith in Him.
Whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
Christians are people who trust in Christ and are being conformed to His likeness.
Therefore, it logically follows that Christians should be the happiest people on earth.
But are they?
IS HAPPINESS A CHOICE?
Happiness is a result of grace, a fruit of the Spirit, and therefore possible for all Christians.
In the Bible, happiness is known as a settled contentment and satisfaction, accompanied with feelings of joy.
Joy is considered a more intense feeling, a gladness of heart.
This attitude of the heart is a result of salvation.
Christians can share in the perfect happiness of God, because they are partakers of His divine nature.
Genuine happiness is spiritual in nature.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. God’s kingdom is filled with happiness, but of a more supreme kind than the pleasures of this world offer.
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit dwells in the Christian to govern the heart and mind. The Christian’s outlook on life is positive when she is filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit.
But if a Christian pursues happiness in created things rather than the Creator Himself, she will be disappointed and lose her joy.
She’s not just having negative feelings; she’s lost something positive.
So a Christian can choose happiness by choosing to commune with God through faith and obedience.
John 15:4-5, 10-11
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
The Christian cannot produce this joy in her own power or through earthly means.
Every effort to find happiness without Christ is futile.
STUDIES ON HAPPINESS
The Bible reveals the results of the very first study on happiness.
Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, learned painful lessons about happiness the hard way.
His great power and prosperity enabled him to pursue every imaginable pleasure on earth. His pride and primitive nature lusted for and gained all he desired. But he learned it was all vanity and vexation of spirit.
It had no lasting value and did not satisfy. The more he got, the more he wanted. He created an insatiable appetite for himself that left him hungering for more and anything but happy. His pursuit of happiness left him more empty than before he started.
Solomon realized that materialism and sensuality couldn’t fill the void in his heart. Happiness wasn’t found in greater riches, increased power or innumerable pleasures.
He finally learned that life without God was empty and unfulfilling.
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless--like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
He learned that happiness is spiritual. It wasn’t attached to anything on earth.
Here we are thousands of years later and people still haven’t found true and lasting happiness. They still continue to study happiness, as if it’s something they can create for themselves.
The sources of these studies on happiness report their observations, but they still don’t know the true source of happiness.
"The results of this study strongly suggest that we are more likely to reach greater levels of happiness when we exhibit pro-social behavior and show others kindness through our actions." - Positive Psychology Program
"Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed." - Harvard University
Research tells us that having friends, love, respect, social support and a sense of being in control—as well as optimism and a positive attitude—tend in the long run to make people happier and healthier. - Berkeley University of California
Yet these studies on happiness all share a common thread.
They point out that good relationships are major factors in people's level of happiness.
They say when people strengthen their connections with others, it increases their sense of well-being.
Those who helped others, or focused on kindness, gratitude and forgiveness, showed more improvements in psychological flourishing.
Those who pursued happiness by focusing on personal gains damaged their connections with people and produced unhappiness.
These so-called “scientific” studies claim the human brain is wired for happiness and positive connections with others.
The Bible says people were wired to have a relationship with their maker, and that connection with Him would provide happiness.
The Bible refers to it as the joy of the Lord.
The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from having peace with God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
HAPPINESS IS A DECISION
Is it fair to say happiness is what you make it?
Happiness, or joy, is a result of salvation. But it’s not just a result.
Happiness is also a command. And people must choose if they will obey God’s commands.
Christians are called to be filled with the Spirit and as we are, we have the supernatural ability to relate well to others.
Relationships are repaired and enhanced. Harmony and happiness are evident because the fruit of the Spirit is joy!
This joy of the Lord is visible to others. When people see this Christlike happiness, they are attracted to it. It opens the doors of opportunity for evangelism and service.
No outward display of emotionalism will engage outsiders. But they are intrigued by the supernatural ability the believer has to get along with negative people, be at peace during challenging times, and suffer without complaining in painful situations.
They see the joy of the Lord is not dependent upon external circumstances.
In fact, the definition of contentment means “at ease within, independent of external circumstances.”
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Many people base their happiness on what’s outside of them.
Just as Solomon sought pleasures that offered only momentary satisfaction, people allow the temporal things in life determine their happiness.
But it doesn’t have to be that way for believers!
Because Christ is ALWAYS present in the Christian, the Christian should ALWAYS be happy.
If Christ who is in us is unchanging, our state of happiness should be unchanging.
The joy of the Lord should be a state of uninterrupted happiness to be enjoyed eternally--starting at the moment of salvation, maintained by faith through life, and fully satisfied in heaven
However, the Bible explains that happiness is not the complete absence of pain and suffering.
It commands believers to rejoice ALWAYS, even in the midst of suffering.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Rejoice is an action word. That means it’s something you do.
The Bible’s definition of rejoice means:
How can believers be happy in the midst of a world filled with violence, pain and suffering?
Perfect contentment in every situation may seem impossible, but God never makes commands the believer can’t obey.
God’s abiding presence provides grace to help the believer choose to be happy in every circumstance.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 6:10
As sorrowful yet always rejoicing.
1 Peter 1:6
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.
Life is laced with hardship.
Yet rejoicing is a command.
It’s up to you to choose whether or not you will rejoice in the midst of hardship and suffering.
You already have everything you need. You don’t need anything else to rejoice.
The grace that activated faith for salvation is the same grace still available to activate faith to obey.
Grace will empower you to choose happiness. The Bible says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
CAN YOU DETERMINE YOUR OWN HAPPINESS?
Happiness does not mean you must avoid pleasure. In fact, God gave all things for us to enjoy.
Just make sure you understand that godliness with contentment is gain.
Your heart’s desires can threaten your loyalty to Christ.
If you compromise biblical principles to pursue sinful pleasures, you will not be happy.
You have unhealthy desires at war within you. And they are powerful!
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
These desires will tempt you to pursue worldly pleasures to take the place of Christ.
But if you pursue Christ as your treasure, He will change your heart’s desires to align with His. They will be transformed into pleasures that He is delighted to give you. And He will be glorified as you enjoy them with gratitude.
Enjoying God forever is true happiness.
It’s the result of salvation and living for His glory instead of your own.
Eternal happiness is a result, a command, a choice, and a decision
HOW TO CHOOSE HAPPINESS
Do you have the kind of happiness that is settled, cheerful, exceedingly glad and always rejoicing?
Is your heart happy whether the sun is shining or not?
Do you have the kind of happiness that is unwavering when everything in your world is turned upside down?
If not, it’s not too late to choose. Your past and present circumstances don’t determine your happiness. You do.
You can choose happiness. It’s your choice, your life.
What kind of life do you want?
Do you want to experience peace and contentment in any and every circumstance of life?
People are born as enemies of God. Their sin not only separates them from God, it also causes them to make gods of themselves. This is called idolatry, the foremost killer of happiness. There is no peace or happiness when you are at war with the Creator of all things.
Until people decide to repent of their idolatry, they cannot know true joy. Yet the person who acknowledges there’s nothing she can do to earn God’s favor, but comes to God empty-handed (poor in spirit) she is blessed (happy).
This blessedness is not just happiness. It includes happiness, but involves far more.
God's blessing on the poor in spirit is His approval of this person. That explains how God is the exclusive source of true happiness.
This person’s happiness is based on the forgiveness of God, which removes the wall of separation and restores the relationship.
The first step toward happiness is having peace with God.
If you don’t have it, you can get it.
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Pursuing happiness in this manner glorifies God and promotes happiness at the deepest level.
The kingdom of heaven is the only place where you can find the guaranteed assurance of happiness.
God is man's happiness. - St. Augustine
Your inner sense of dissatisfaction with life proves you have unmet desires in your heart.
The heart is the seat of the soul that governs your thoughts, attitudes, motivations and actions.
Your desires will eventually lead to decisions, which require choosing between options.
The quest for happiness is already mapped out for you.
But you have to choose it for yourself. Nobody else can choose for you.
You can choose to be happy by choosing to believe in Jesus as your savior and receiving the joy of the Lord.
The choice is yours!
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