Admittedly, this post as been a bit more difficult to write.... I find I am still struggling a lot with the things which can rob our happiness. We are brought up to think our value rests on the backs of how "accomplished" we are. Our value has nothing to do how "well to do" we are. Our true value rests on the impact we make upon the lives of others. When we die, what legacy are we leaving? Are we leaving one of earthly wealth? Our children and those around us wont speak of our wealth at an eulogy. No, the best legacy we can leave is one of love and joy. What do we that don't cost a dime are what we will be remembered for. Sadly, this is not what society teaches; no, we are taught that success is measured in $.
What is happiness? I keep thinking back to the children enjoying and finding pure, unadulterated happiness in the most simple of acts. I look at my own child and see how being turned loose in a field of grasses, trees, and wild flowers uncorks a spring of laughter and unbridled passion for life. The job of childhood and exploration is joy. Yes, joy/happiness. So what about growing up makes life not joyful or happy anymore?
Delight thyself also in the LORD: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Ps. 37:4. Yes, God wants us to have our hearts desires. Granted, not all we desire are good for us, but when we do His will, he wants us to be happy and will grants us those things which will really make us happy. He knows best how to make us happy. The problem I have is waiting upon Him to provide.
Working doesn't make you happy. It can make you have a sense of accomplishment and that can give you happiness, if you do it in the right frame of mind and don't allow it to become your god. God does want us to be happy yet He also knows we must do some toiling. We can make that toiling more pleasurable or at least delight the Lord when we give Him the glory and thank Him for giving us our jobs.
So what is happiness? If its not money, fine houses, hotshot cars, and fancy vacations then what brings us happiness?
Love. Pure and simple. Helping others when done with the right spirit can give us a great sense of accomplishment, and truly show forth a light in a darkened cave. One small light chases the darkness away. So this year on our road to simplification, we are practicing hospitality. Giving love and a measure of happiness to others, and it sure is feeling good.
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Prov. 12:25
You see, wealth only goes so far in the world. What really can make a big change is how we treat each other. Why the golden rule we were taught as children disappears as we grow up I will never know. Yet, if we treated each other with love, more of us could find and hang onto happiness.
Yes, we will have sad times in our life, God never says that we will not face trials, but if we view those times with the right frame of mind we can find happiness in the midst of it. At the end of our days we should look back and see a road paved with happiness. Memories of family dinners, walks in the rain, fishing on the bank of a river with your child, making sandcastles in the sandbox, teaching your sixteen-year old how to drive, and even watching your grand-baby take his first breath. Those will be the things that bring you a basket full of happiness. Of course there will be sorrow; we are never told we wont experience sorrow. Happiness is truly having a heart that God can speak to. When we have a happy heart His words are heard more loudly and clearly.
Hanging onto our happiness is hard. It takes thought and a willingness to go against ingrained ideals of what makes us successful. Success is measured by what we have, but its that very system of measurement which takes away our joy in life. We may experience a temporary joy but its not lasting.
To hang onto being happy there will need to be changes that take place. Some things you can't change, readily, but some things can be easily dealt with. What those are will vary for each of us.
If someone is in your life and they provide no positive influence, loosen the strings. You can't always have family in your life, as sad as it is. Mine is a prime example, sadly. Certain members of my family provide me with a lot of heartache. THis is not good for me, good for my family, and ultimately its draws my mind away from Godly business. Its better to not dwell on them, leaving my mind free to think about my own salvational issues, and how I can be a better person. This is easier said than done. There is a time to shake the dust of their doorstep off your feet and begin to focus your energies on the business that will bring peace to you and your family. Look to your own life, and maybe, through prayer the rest will change. Connect with people that will bring you peace. This may very well be friends outside of your own bloodlines.
Get finances in better order. This includes occupations, but also priorities. Sometimes you don't have a choice, but try to begin taking your vacations and plan your off time to be focusing on your family, not a destination. Plan to take things simply. Keep vacations to things where you and the family can truly relax and enjoy God's creation, even if this is a "staycation". We are always happy when we have spent a goodly amount of time marveling at our Father's beautiful creation. While resorts and theme parks are fun, they don't provide a lasting joy and communion with God and each other that we get with a hike and a picnic in the great outdoors.
Take the time to relax. Just begin to decide what must be done and then focus on those you love. Eat better, exercise more regularly, and take the time to have a hobby. Teach your child your hobby. Have dates with your kiddos and with your spouse. Have martial relations and often --we are all grown ups here. *smile*
Don't worry about trying to keep up with the "Jones'" focus on what you need for your family to find that sweet spot. We can recapture the joy of our childhood.
Sit down and have a quiet time with God every day. During that time actively focus on what you are thankful for.
Don't get into the middle of squabbles. This includes work and between friends or family. If it doesn't involve you, don't get in the middle. Easier said than done sometimes, trust me. You don't always have to have the last word either. This is very difficult, but sometimes just shutting our mouth and walking away can make us happier than 1) adding fuel to the fire and/or 2) saying something we can't take back.
Don't dwell on the "could haves, should haves" of life. Acceptance that we have fallen short but can move forward from that is hard but needed. We can't live in the yesterdays, we have to move on from that.
Think about what you can do to help another. Actively seek to be hospitable. We are discussing outreach at church, and while that is wonderful, I am feeling led by God to do more "in reaching" and forming bonds among our current members. I am becoming convicted, I think, that this is what God wants our family to do. To offer our home as a sanctuary of sorts for people to be able to come and feel love and acceptance in.
Hanging onto happiness can be done, of this I am certain. It takes work, but if we can reclaim it for ourselves, we will be able to claim it for our children. Its an overhaul of what we value. When we delight the Lord, he will grant us the desires of our hearts; His face will shine down upon us. Here's to reclaiming HAPPINESS! I claim it for my family! God bless us all with happiness as we go forward!
How do you think we can be happy?
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