Everyone these days seems to be concerned about happiness. My daughter is conducting a book club review of The Happiness Project. Yesterday I picked up the April issue of Woman’s Day and found out they are doing a series about happiness, also based on the book. My first thought was that I’d probably be a lot happier if I had written the book and gotten the money and publicity. J But jealousy is an ugly emotion. I try not to waste time on it.
I haven’t read the book. (Yes, Kat, I will.) But I hope that the author makes a distinction between happiness and joy, between satisfaction and contentment. To my way of thinking happiness and satisfaction are temporary conditions brought about by the whims of your current situation. Joy and contentment are more permanent- a sense of peace with who you are and your ability to cope with whatever comes your way. Joy and contentment come from faith in the Lord and an understanding of your personal journey.
I’m generally a happy person. I’m a morning person. I’m a “life happens” person. I don’t have a lot of emotional ups and downs. I try to take things as they come and deal with them as well as I can. “Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have” serves me pretty well.
I don’t know what makes The Happiness Project so special. I don’t know why everyone is all excited about it. But since I’ve lived sixty years now, I thought I might throw in my two cents. Here are two things that have helped make me a happy person:
1. Mind your own business. The most unhappy people I know are the ones who try to control the behavior and/or attitudes of other people. Can’t be done. You can lead a horse….well, you know. You can observe. You can listen and emphasize. You can pray. You can make suggestions. You can model great behavior and attitude. But you can’t control anyone else except yourself. You can’t even control your own children. Can’t control your spouse, sister, brother. Can’t control your co-workers, boss, neighbor. Nope. Nada. If you think you can, then you are setting yourself up for failure and unhappiness. I find that if I take care of my business, take care of my problems, take care of my needs, and take care of my journey, I don’t have a lot of time and energy for controlling others.
2. Help others as much as possible. No, I have not lost my mind and this doesn’t contradict #1. Charity, helpfulness, reliability, and responsibility are all traits that lead to happiness and that are admired and respected by others. I try to help people when they ask for help. I try to offer help when people need my time or money. I make suggestions if people ask me for advice. I think I finally understood this concept when I took a class about witnessing to others about Christ. I finally “got it”- my part is simply saying “I believe in Jesus and this is why I do”. The rest is up to the person and their own relationship with the Lord.
I could write more, but the morning has vanished and it is time for work. Live for today. Enjoy the moment you are in. Look for the little blessings that are all around you. Simplify your life. Don’t hold a grudge. Don’t gossip. Be kind to yourself.
Have a great day!