Do you ever choose a word for the year? I do! I pick one so I can take the whole year to learn it, live it, receive it, and understand it!
So, what was my word for this year?
Not long after I picked that word, though, I broke my finger and my hero dad passed away. Those aren’t exactly ingredients for happiness, huh?
A broken finger was a painful annoyance, but losing my dad broke my heart. Even so, in the midst of it all, I am still learning what it means to be happy.
But before I tell you how, let’s pause and define the word “happy.”
Sometimes in Christian circles, “happy” gets a bad rep! We extoll joy and degrade happiness, thinking the former is more spiritual and the latter is, well, just plain self-serving and shallow.
Honestly, I used to think that—I even wrote about it.
I was taught that happiness is dependent on what happens on the outside, while joy is based on what you have on the inside. But, when I really looked in Scripture, I couldn’t find that distinction.
Both gladness and joy are mentioned in verses that treat them as if they are one in the same. And, joy and happiness are both emotions of pleasure and gladness (see Jeremiah 31:13, Proverbs 23:25, Psalm 16:11).
Sister, if Christ is in you, your life is bursting with the fruit of His Spirit—joy! And it expresses itself in finding pleasure in all that is good; in laughing, experiencing delight, and rejoicing with a smile.
It’s not only based on what you’ve got within, it’s also triggered by the wonder of God’s creation, the people around you, and all the fun and interesting things that happen in this life.
So, if you’re joyful, then you’re happy. Unhappy joy doesn’t exist!
But … what about when things aren’t so good? How do you find the happy then?
Sometimes you just can’t choose happiness. Life is too heavy, sorrow is too deep, and stress is too high.
You can, though, choose to press into the love of God, the comfort of His Spirit, and make choices that bring joy and allow room for happiness in your life.
So, if you want to join me in getting your happy on this year, here are three ingredients—in addition to Christ in us—for happiness.
1. Something to Do
Everyday needs a purpose. It brings us joy when we have something to accomplish, improve, tackle, contribute to, or enjoy. But, we don’t always know or notice our purpose.
Finding our purpose begins with finding our source of life. Our “do” flows from our “be.” We begin with who we are and then we determine what we do.
Paul wrote in Ephesians that “we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).
God created you. He is your source of life. And, He created you for a purpose.
He wired you to enjoy and engage in certain tasks and experiences that are good for you and for others. These “good things” bring God glory and make you smile.
So, if your day is missing a little zest, press into God’s Word and get to know the God who created you. You will grow in insight as to who you are and your purpose will become clearer—and, as this happens, you’ll taste happiness.
2. Someone to Love
We feel deep joy and experience happy moments when we love other people.
Selfish people aren’t happy people. When we are the only lonely thing on our minds, self-focused thoughts consume us—as in, eat us up and gobble up our joy. But when we love someone else, we live outside ourselves.
Scripture says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). In other words, we get happier when we give love, give comfort, and give of ourselves. And, the beautiful thing about God’s economy is that as we give, we do receive.
So, whether it is a significant other, a pet, or a person in need, love someone besides yourself. You’ll receive a big dose of joy and a heap of happiness.
3. Something to Look Forward To
Sometimes we get the blues because our lives feel “same ol, same ol.” Even when we’re fulfilling our purpose and loving others, we can still lose a little of that happy shine because we can’t see beyond this day, this task, or this situation.
Seeing beyond today and having something to look forward to ignites our happiness and joy.
In one study, researchers even found that we experience more happiness—or at least just as much—from looking forward to something as we do from actually doing it. There is power in anticipation!
Girl, even if a lunch date with your BFF isn’t on the horizon, or that trip to Hawaii is way out of reach, you and I both have something bigger and better to look forward to!
Yes, what can give today the buzz and lift it needs is knowing that it is getting you one step closer to that place where tears are gone and we never, ever have to say good-bye again. That right there is enough to make me happy!
Your Father God wants you to experience all the happiness you can as you walk with Him all your days—whether it’s through the dark valleys or by the still waters.
Today, let loose the joy inside you. Laugh and smile. It’s okay to feel happy!
Make choices to live out your purpose, love others, and anticipate that glad morning when you will see the smile of God!
What ingredients would you add to this list of ways to get your happy on?