Sunday, July 21 2024 - 5:41 AM
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Happiness is a Choice

We know a precious nurse who constantly gives herself to her patients in a positive, nurturing, and uplifting spirit. She gives happiness, joy, and hope to others while they are in the process of recovering. You can look at her and not be aware of the suffering in her own life. Her son was in and out of drug rehabilitation, taking the family through years of tremendous trauma. The day before Easter, her son died of a drug overdose. Somehow this sweet nurse continued to give love, care, and a positive touch to everyone who came in contact with her. How does a person hang on to that deep inner sense of peace and happiness, even when their life situations reach the depth of despair?

Scientists have asked the same question and found that studies suggest our disposition is partially determined by genes and brain chemistry. Psychologist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin says that by age 13, the brain sets a “neurochemical roadway” which will partially determine future happiness. But what about the person with a tendency towards depression? Can we blame it on genes alone?

What Brings Happiness?

The Bible gives a good answer in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, my brothers, fill your minds with things that are true, honest, and just. Think about things that are noble, pure, and lovely. Focus on good reports about others. If any good has happened or there’s any reason to praise man or God, think about those things.” C.W. We can minimize the negatives by filling our days with habits and thoughts that promote happiness.

Some believe that more money and material possessions bring happiness, but we know that getting what we want seldom brings us joy. Rather than joy, it can make us want more, bring more responsibility, and drain our energy.

A friend of ours once said, “Some people spend all their lives at a job or occupation so they can buy a piece of property and a house, only to find that when they finally get what they want, they’re too old, too sick, or too busy to appreciate it.”

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “To forget oneself is to be happy.” And Jesus gives this assurance: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 4:27).

Here are some helpful ideas for finding more satisfaction and happiness in life:

Live in the Present Moment

There is a little book in our library called The Precious Present by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It’s all about living and enjoying each present moment. How often do we find ourselves living in the past or the future, not wanting the moment we are experiencing?

We can find joy while talking with someone, driving our car, peeling potatoes, doing taxes, or using the computer. Living in the moment is not about acting like contented cows in the pasture but rather looking around us and seeing what’s happening. Looking, noticing, and living in the present is often a matter of choice and practice.

Spend Time on Activities that Stimulate You

Like the nurse who lifts her patient’s spirits and finds a sense of happiness for herself, accomplish a task, and give it your best. Read a book or start a hobby like gardening, hospitality, or sports. Any activity that you enjoy can stimulate happiness.

Make Close Relationships a Priority

Take the time and effort to nurture relationships, especially those in your home and family. When we have strong support from our family and friends, it helps boost our immune system and even lower the risk of premature death, according to a 30-year study of 7,000 residents in Alameda County, California.

We need to share at least 18 positive statements each day with people close to us. If your network has thinned, seek out new acquaintances through your career, hobbies, church, and other interests. Some people decide to work long hours, giving low priority to relationships. We’ve come up with this phrase, “All work and no play drives close relationships away.”

Grow Spiritually and Never Lose Hope

Spirituality can be defined in many ways, from attending a place of worship to meditating privately in prayer and study. As a couple, we have found strength and happiness by praying for each other out loud and sharing our spiritual journey.

Those who have recently suffered divorce, unemployment, bereavement, or a serious illness have reported greater well-being if they have a strong religious faith in God. One Gallup Survey said that highly spiritual people were twice as likely as those lowest in spiritual commitment to declare themselves “very happy.”

A strong and happy Christian, like our nurse friend who lost her son in death, clings to a hope found in Jeremiah 31:15-17, that keeps her going. “This is what the Lord says: ‘A voice is heard weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because her children are no more.’ This is what the Lord says, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,’ declares the Lord. ‘They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,’ declares the Lord. ‘Your children will return to their own land.’ Hope brings us peace and happiness.

Take Charge of Your Time

A feeling of helplessness, disconnection, victimization, or disorganization can certainly lead to unhappiness. We need to set boundaries so that we are no longer out of control. Perhaps we have to say “no” to a few more requests and stand firm in what we know is the right balance for ourselves.

Mastering the use of time will fill the day with productivity. Each deadline that is met offers a feeling of accomplishment and control. Schedule enough time for the important projects first, then do the lesser priority tasks as time permits, not forgetting to allow time for nurturing interpersonal relationships.

Practice Being Happy

Try going through the motions, and you will find that the emotions will follow. If you wake up one morning on the “wrong side of the bed,” you can stop at that moment and make a decision to start new. Just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean it has to continue. If it means making things right with someone, do it, and then get on with a happy day.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Fill your mind and words with thankful appreciation. The Bible says that a happy heart is good like medicine. It might be a good idea to observe another person’s happy traits and then imitate them. Practice confident, Christ-centered self-esteem along with optimism and a big smile.

Happiness is more in your control than you think.

If you liked this, you may enjoy: Answers With the Rain | How to Be Happy

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About Harvey Corwin and Kathy Corwin

Harvey Corwin

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

Kathy Corwin

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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