Happiness is A Choice... Not A Destination
I had a great date this week with my daughter Bethany. We were doing a couple of easy walking laps at our local city park, just as the sun was setting. It was beautiful, 65 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The air had the crisp hint of fall in it and the evening was just perfect for a nice walk with my daughter. I realized how beautiful she had become as a young woman of 16, how proud I was of her. How amazing she is and courageous to dare to just be herself in the midst of the drama filled world of high school that I could only imagine at 42. She has battled, as a teen, to find her own happiness and I was so proud to see she was holding her own.
She was talking with me about some of her friendships and the observation of how many of her classmates were constantly miserable or anxious about their lives, appearance, relationships and futures. I assured her that trend doesn’t really change in adulthood, and that we all will, from time to time, struggle with those feelings for our entire lives. The key was learning to be happy in the midst of our imperfect lives.
I realized, as we were walking and talking, how true that statement was. Life and our happiness really are a result of our choice of perspectives and attitude. Many of us spend our days constantly criticizing ourselves, our kids, our work, our government, the Church, other parents… you name it, we can dig a hole in it without a second thought. We fail to actually “choose” to see the good in our lives. We lock onto the “bad” things like a laser guided ballistic missile, determined to destroy our targets to gain the momentary internal satisfaction that maybe everyone's lives are as miserable as our own.
Happiness is available for us all. Contentment, satisfaction with what we have and who we are… in the now. Not the tomorrow. Learning to see the beauty of our lives, our families and our existence in the present tense is the key to enjoying our day. So many times we think of happiness as some distant horizon of our life, some place and time that we eventually will get to, if we just keep hoping. Sad, it’s just not true. We go through our days always looking for something better than we currently have. A better house, car, clothes, spouse etc. We exist in a state of almost constant agitation, discontented in what we don’t have.
Life without the proper perspective can well become hell. We all know of those lives who are battling cancer or the loss of a loved one and in the midst of their pain, we see them conquering life with happiness and joy. IMPOSSIBLE, yet it’s right there in front of us. Their lives remind us all of the power of perspective and faith and choosing to see the “good” in every circumstance.
(I Timothy 6:6-12) 6Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.11But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”
Our happiness becomes a choice of our will. Are we going to believe, trust and accept that God is our source of all lasting joy and peace or are we going to exhaust ourselves in search for something more? It’s almost impossible to gain the “happy” perspective we need to enjoy our lives all alone and on our own. We really need to constantly “reset” our vision by spending time in the word of God and making it a point to hang out with our fellow believers in community. When we give into the constant temptation to choose to see only what we don’t have, we are opening ourselves and our families up to some serious relational turbulence.
Grace to you as you walk through this journey of life. What will you stop to see on the way? The amazing beauty around you, the evidences of God’s faithfulness, or the things you wish were different…. the Choice continues to be ours. Don’t misunderstand, I understand there will be tragic days, and overwhelming life circumstances… but in it all, God promises to be with us. Focus on that, and when you can’t see Him anymore… find a friend who can.