What is happiness? Is it a feeling or a choice?
Happiness is more than a feeling, it is a philosophy, a choice, a discovery process and for Christians a certainty through eternal life with Christ. Some of Jesus’s final words to us are to ‘be of good cheer for I have overcome the world’. (John 16:33 KJV).
Positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
This definition resonates with me as it includes both the feelings associated with happiness i.e., joy, contentment, positive well-being as well as the spiritual elements of meaning and purpose.
Living from a deeper sense of purpose is profoundly grounding, bringing a sense of optimism and hope that you are fulfilling the Lord’s will for your life.
But is happiness a choice?
Here are some quotes to the questions: ‘Is happiness a choice?
There are several famous verses and quotes on happiness that provide us direction as to why it is more than a feeling, but also a choice we make.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Tip One: What are you thinking on daily?
Unhappiness or discontentment is not about what’s happening to you but rather, how you are choosing to think about what’s happening to you. What are the habitual thoughts that circle in your mind daily, breeding discontentment and unhappiness? Be intentional about identifying those thoughts and deconstructing the lies behind them.
Paul instructs us in 2 Corinthians 10: 5 to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
In addition, in Romans 12.2 he encourages us “not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
We need to actively renew our mind by identifying and taking those thoughts of discontentment captive replacing them with the truth of God’s word, for example “ all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28) or “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) etc.. Find the promises of God that apply to your situation and speak them over yourself, your loved ones and circumstances daily to renew your mind to the truth, banishing the lies that cause discontent.
We are no longer in competition with anyone for anything, be it love, favor, peace, happiness, or success. We have an abundant never-ending source of supply because God almighty is our provider.
– Paula Casill, My Brother’s Keeper: Redefining Relationships in the Body of Christ
Tip Two: Know that happiness lives within you.
The Holy Spirit lives within all believers. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
The fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in all believers according to Galatians 5:22-23 is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Joy lives within you – even though you may not feel it, it is in you, and you can access it. How do you do this? By first acknowledging that you already have it and then triggering joy through the magic emotion.
Gratefulness, recognizing the many blessings we have irrespective of the adversities we face, leads to happiness.
– Ira L. Shafiroff, Forgiveness Rules
Tip Three: The captivating emotion.
Gratitude is a captivating emotion! It can be cultivated by purposefully meditating on the blessings and faithfulness of the Lord in our lives. All the trials He has brought us through in the past and all the love and blessings that surround us. Just sitting in thanksgiving remembering His grace upon our lives inspires joy, contentment and gratitude that fills our mind and body with hope!
If you trust in God, the grass on the other side becomes a lot less green. You can find happiness wherever you are.
– K. J. Bryen, Dare to be Brave
Tip Four: Avoid comparison.
Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”
Comparison is not wise. We never know another’s full journey and story; we generally end up comparing our perception of another’s success with our personal circumstance at a point in time.
The Lord has a purpose for our lives. (link purpose articles) We need to focus on finding and fulfilling our purpose in Christ which is where our joy and contentment lies. We cannot fail at what the Lord has called us to do – He has put all the gifts, talents, support and resources at our disposal to enable us to effectively reach our purpose in Christ. If we focus on the Lord’s plan for our lives that may be on a different timeline to ours, then we can find contentment and see the pointlessness of comparing our journey with another’s.
Tip Five: Be present to the joy in every moment.
As Max Lucado reminds us, we need to ‘find joy in the ordinary’ and not constantly be seeking the high of a specific experience. How do we do this? Choose to stop and ‘smell the roses.’
Stop and focus on, for example, the color of the sky, a child’s beautiful smile, the glorious smell of freshly brewed coffee, the comforting notes of your favorite song… every moment is a container that you can choose to fill with the joy that is all around you.
We are all born with certain genetic tendencies and personality traits however we are not victims! We are powerful creators who can choose happiness in every moment.
In summary it is evident that there are several dimensions to happiness that we can choose to cultivate through being aware of what we are thinking on, knowing and believing that joy lives within us through the Holy Spirit, cultivating gratitude as we remember the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives and are intentionally present to the joy in every moment!
Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.
My Prayer for You Today:
My prayer for you is Psalms 16: 11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”