Common Christian Myths About Happiness

Happiness is what we all want, and believers throughout the centuries, like Brooks and Wesley, have affirmed that it is a good desire when we seek it in Christ. Unfortunately, countless modern Christians have been taught various myths about happiness.

Is God Concerned Only with Our Holiness?

As a young pastor, I preached, as others still do, “God calls us to holiness, not happiness.” I saw Christians pursue what they thought would make them happy, falling headlong into sexual immorality, alcoholism, and materialism. The lure of happiness appeared at odds with holiness. I was attempting to oppose our human tendency to put preferences and convenience before obedience to Christ. It all sounded so spiritual, and I could quote countless authors and preachers who agreed with me.

I’m now convinced we were all dead wrong.

To be holy is to see God as he is and to become like him, covered in Christ’s righteousness. And since God’s nature is to be happy (Psalm 115:3; 1 Timothy 1:11), the more like him we become in our sanctification, the happier we will be. Forcing a choice between happiness and holiness is utterly foreign to Scripture. If it were true that God wants us to be only holy, wouldn’t we expect Philippians 4:4 to say, “Be holy in the Lord always” instead of “Rejoice in the Lord always”?

Any understanding of God is utterly false if it is incompatible with the lofty and infinitely holy view of God in Ezekiel 1:26–28 and Isaiah 6:1–4, and of Jesus in Revelation 1:9–18. God is decidedly and unapologetically anti-sin, but he is in no sense anti-happiness. Indeed, holiness is exactly what secures our happiness. Charles Spurgeon said, “Holiness is the royal road to happiness. The death of sin is the life of joy.”

There is more at: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/randyalcorn/2021/03/common-christian-myths-happiness/

The Fruit of the Spirit Are Ingredients of Happiness

What’s our greatest source of joy? Paul pointed to the Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Commenting on chara, the Greek Word usually rendered “joy” in this passage, the United Bible Societies’ translation handbook advises, “In some languages joy is essentially equivalent to ‘causes people to be very happy.’ In order to indicate that this joy is not merely some passing experience, one may say ‘to be truly happy within their hearts.’ In some languages joy is expressed idiomatically as ‘to be warm within one’s heart,’ or ‘to dance within one’s heart.’”

3 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged and Defeated

fram Marc and Angel

This morning I didn’t feel like doing anything. It’s a combination of exhaustion from a few days of hard work and lack of sleep following a disagreement I had with someone I love.

I honestly couldn’t motivate myself to do anything important, which is a rare occurrence for me. I just felt completely discouraged and defeated. I started overthinking things and doubting myself, and wondering whether anything I do is worthwhile.

I sat there in this funk for nearly an hour and wondered how to get out of it. Should I just forget about today? Should I just give up on this project, because I’m not as good at it as I thought I was?

That’s what I was considering, at least for a little while. But the better part of me knew this mild state of depression was temporary, and so I dug into my own intellectual toolbox for solutions…

Here’s what works for me – three things to keep in mind (and do) when you feel discouraged and defeated:

1.  You are more than one thing (loosen up and stretch your identity). – We all have this picture in our minds of ourselves – this idea of what kind of person we are. When this idea gets threatened, we react defensively. People may question whether we did a good job, and this threatens our idea of being a competent person, so we become angry or hurt by the criticism. Someone falsely accuses us of something and this threatens our idea that we’re a good person, and so we get angry and argumentative. My identity of myself as someone who’s motivated and productive and has great ideas… this was getting in the way this morning. When I wasn’t productive, it made me feel defeated because I began subconsciously worrying that I wasn’t who I thought I was. My solution was to realize that I’m not just one thing. I’m not always productive – sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m unproductive too. I’m not always motivated — sometimes I am, but other times I’m feeling lazy. And obviously I don’t always have great ideas either – because that’s impossible. The truth is, I can be many things, and remembering this helps me stretch my identity so it isn’t so fragile. Then it doesn’t matter if someone thinks I didn’t do a good job – because I don’t always do a good job. I make mistakes. I am less than perfect. And that’s perfectly OK. (covered in the “Hapiness & Positive Living” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

2. Today is still a priceless gift (make the best of it). – I only have so many days left on Earth. I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number. I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing… a miracle. And that squandering this miracle is a crime – a horrible lack of appreciation for what I’ve been given. And so, I reminded myself this morning that this day counts and that I still need to make the best of it. That doesn’t mean I need to be hyper-productive or work myself into the ground, but that I should do something worthwhile. Sometimes taking a break to nourish yourself is a worthwhile activity, because doing so allows you to regroup and do other worthwhile things. But just sitting around in self-pity isn’t helpful. So I got up and took my 6-year-old (homeshooled) son for a little walk that we both enjoyed, and I came back feeling better (and so did he).

3.  Even the tiniest possible step is progress (take that tiny step). – It can be hard to get moving when you are seriously stuck. This is how I felt a decade ago when I was stuck in a rut after simultaneously losing my breadwinning job and two loved ones to illness. It was really hard to motivate myself when I didn’t think I had the strength to push forward – when I felt insanely horrible and sorry for myself. But I took one tiny step every day, and it felt good, and I got stronger. That’s what I did this morning too – I took the tiniest possible step. Just turning on my computer, opening up a document, and writing a single sentence. Such an action is so small as to seem insignificant, and yet so easy as to be possible when I was feeling defeated. And it showed me the next step was possible, and the next. And the end result is this email you’re reading now. (covered in the “Goals & Growth” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

To read more or comment: https://marcandangel.ontraport.net/c/s/s3e/WyBpC/v/xy/sYM5/6oYzu3/6btwBil4X2/P/P/0z

The Secret of Happiness – Part II

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

As we said yesterday, happiness is many things to many people. For one thing, it means we need to know and accept ourselves for who we are.

Happiness also means learning to accept my personal circumstances. Some of them can be changed. Others can’t. And unless I accept the ones that can’t be changed, I’ll never be happy or content. As blind Helen Keller said, “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.”

Happiness is also having a worthwhile goal . . . a noble purpose for which to live . . . something of value to strive for.

I was once talking to a union representative on a construction job. At the time he was also demonstrating for a cause that was popular back then. He told me he joined this group because it gave him something to live for. I don’t know if this man is still demonstrating for a cause, but certainly everybody needs something to live for other than himself and his own happiness.

Happiness in itself is not a worthwhile goal to live for. To be happy all of the time is unreal, as happiness is only one of life’s great emotions. To be in touch with all of one’s feelings is more important than being happy all of the time. To feel sad, hurt, angry, afraid, and unhappy at the appropriate times is both normal and healthy. However, if one is unhappy most of the time, this is nature’s way of telling him/her that something is missing in his life or some conflict needs resolving.

To be happy, or at least fulfilled, one also needs to have worthwhile work (paid or volunteer) into which one can put one’s best efforts. Note, too, that when our work is helping to meet others needs, this can be very fulfilling.

Everybody has some talents; so it is important that he/she discover his/her gifts, receive adequate training to sharpen them, and find a place to use them. This is equally true for both men and women.

It is a wise man who helps his wife find, develop, and use her special gifts. He will reap just rewards through his wife’s increased fulfillment and happiness. And so it is for a wise woman for her husband.

To be continued. . . .

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to realize that happiness comes much more through who I am rather than what I do. Help me to become the person you want me to be and then find further fulfillment and happiness with what I do with my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Comment: http://www.actsweb.org/daily.php?id=655

The Secret of Happiness – Part I

“Then he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'” Luke 12:15

The search for happiness is as old as mankind. Hedonism, an ancient Greek philosophy, stated that the chief end of man was happiness. Democritus, who lived in 460 BC, said, “Happiness is the object of our conduct.” And Aristipus, a pupil of Socrates, put it this way. “The most intense pleasure is the highest good and is the aim of life.”

People today still long for happiness, but in spite of our greatly increased knowledge and achievements so many people still haven’t learned its secret.

On the University campus the highest death rate is caused by suicide. Hospital beds are filled with unhappy and lonely people. Some doctors estimate that over 80% of patients are suffering as a result of emotional distress. A world-famous psychiatrist claims that “the central neurosis of our time is emptiness.” And according to the United Nations World Health Organization, depression is the world’s number one health problem.

Marilyn Monroe had everything that many seem to think brings happiness—beauty, wealth, fame, and popularity—but she ended her life in suicide. I have read that actor Mel Gibson also had everything the world had to offer but he never felt happy or fulfilled. This is one reason he produced and paid to make the film, The Passion of the Christ.

It is claimed that Voltaire, who was famous for his infidelity, said on his deathbed, “I am lost! Oh, that I had never been born.” And millionaire Jay Gould said when dying, “I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth.”

Actually, wealth, fame, power, or beauty don’t make one happy or unhappy. They are externals. Happiness comes from within. It is a by-product of an inner condition. If one lives only for personal happiness, he will probably never find it. As one person said, “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”

In their mind happiness is many things to many people. It depends on one’s particular needs, abilities, interests, and maturity. Happiness for one man is to be an accountant, for another a farmer. Happiness for one woman is not to have any more children, for another to have several more. The reality is, however, that none of these in and of itself can make anyone happy.

For me, happiness begins with being honest with myself and learning to understand and accept myself for who and what I really am. This way I can utilize my strengths and work towards overcoming my weaknesses.

To be continued. . . .

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, help me to realize that happiness is not an end in and of itself, but rather a process of living in harmony with your will, in harmony with myself, and in harmony with others—and in having a purpose higher than myself for which to live. Help me to achieve these goals and therein reap the reward of happiness that comes to all who so live, Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Comment: http://www.actsweb.org/daily.php?id=654

Scripture Gives Us Many Reasons to Be Happy

BY RANDY ALCORN

When someone says, as many have, “Happiness isn’t in the Bible,” it’s not even slightly true. Even in versions that don’t frequently use the words happy and happiness, the concept is conspicuously present, not only in its many synonyms (see here and here), but in words such as contentmentpeacedelight, and dozens of others in every translation.

Consider this verse: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18). Such a passage may not seem to be about happiness, yet if we understand its meaning, won’t we be flooded with happiness?

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation” (Psalm 98:1-2). There are no joy-related words in this verse, yet doesn’t it make you joyful?

Consider the lame man who leaped and praised God (see Acts 3:1-10).His story won’t appear in a study of words related to happiness, but he was obviously overwhelmed with happiness.

“We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). No word for happiness is mentioned here, but how does it make you feel to know that Jesus is your advocate, your defense attorney? Can you imagine Jesus standing between you and your accuser, Satan (see Revelation 12:10)? The thought makes me smile, rejoice, and praise God.

Every passage that mentions our redemption; our new nature in Christ; and God’s love, grace, and mercy also makes a profound statement about our grounds for happiness.

Does God Care About My Happiness?

5 Things Most Unhappy People Refuse To Admit

~ Marc Hack

Everyone experiences an unhappy mood on occasion, but there is a big difference between experiencing a temporary bout of unhappiness and living a habitually unhappy life. That’s what chronically unhappy people do. And although many of these people are afraid to admit it, a vast majority of their unhappiness stems from their own beliefs and behaviors.

Over the past decade, Marc and I have helped hundreds of unhappy people rediscover their smiles and, in the process, we’ve learned a lot about the negative beliefs and behaviors that typically hold them back. Even if you are generally a happy person, take a look at the short list below. Many of the unhappy people we’ve worked with via our course and coaching initially refused to admit that they carried these beliefs and behaviors, even when the evidence stacked against them was undeniable. See if any of these points are keeping you from experiencing greater amounts of joy.

1.  They struggle with self-respect. – Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself. Be a friend to yoruself. Trust your inner spirit and follow your instincts. Accept who you are completely, the good and the bad, and make changes in your life as YOU see fit—not because you think anyone else wants you to be different, but because you know it’s the right thing to do, for YOU. Be the person you will be happy to live with for the duration of your life. Don’t rely on your significant other, or anyone else, for your happiness and self-worth. Know that our first and last love is always self-love, and that if you can’t love and respect yourself, no one else will be able to either.  (covered in the “Self-Love” chapter of our NEW book)

2.  They are holding on to old grudges. – You will never find peace until you learn to finally let go of the hatred and hurt that lives in your heart. Life is far too short to be spent in nursing bitterness and registering wrongs. Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, on the other hand, is for those who are confident enough to stand on their own two legs and move on. In order to move on, you must know why you felt the way you did, and why you no longer need to feel that way. It’s about accepting the past, letting it be, and pushing your spirit forward with good intentions. Nothing empowers your ability to heal and grow as much as your love and forgiveness.  (covered in the “Happiness” chapter of our NEW book)

3.  The routines they follow imprison them. – Remember that the way you’ve always done it isn’t the only way. It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re 75 is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, 30s and 40s, or not having bought enough $8 lattes from Starbucks, or not having frequented the same exact restaurants, or strip malls, or office buildings for years. But the regret of missing out on great opportunities is a real, toxic feeling. The bottom line is that you’ve figured out the things in your comfort zone many times over. You’ve had enough of the same old, same old. It’s time to figure something new out. Every corner you turn or street you walk down has a new experience waiting for you. You just have to see the opportunity and be adventurous enough to run with it for a little while. (covered in the “Daily Rituals” chapter of our NEW book)

4.  They let their fears numb them from life’s goodness. – “Numbing” is any activity that you use to desensitize your feelings so that you don’t experience vulnerability or hurt. But by numbing yourself to vulnerability, you also numb yourself to love, belonging, empathy, creativity, adventure and all of life’s goodness. Remember, every worthwhile venture in life—intimate love, friendship, a new business, etc.—is scary. These things are inherently risky. They are unsafe. These things aren’t for the faint of heart. They take courage. And most importantly, they can’t coexist with fear. When you open up to life’s greatest opportunities and joys it means you’re also giving life the opportunity to break your heart, but trusting that it won’t … that the risk is well worth the reward.  (covered in the “Getting Unstuck” chapter of our NEW book)

5.  They are addicted to avoiding themselves in the present. – One of the hardest challenges we face to simply live in our own skin—to just be right here, right now, regardless of where we are. Too often we needlessly distract ourselves with anything and everything: food, booze, shopping, TV, tabloid news, online social networks, video games, smart phones, etc.—basically anything to keep us from being fully present. We use compulsive work, compulsive exercise, compulsive love affairs, etc., to escape from ourselves and the realities of living. In fact, many of us will go to great lengths to avoid the feeling of being alone in an undistracted environment. So we succumb to hanging-out with just about anybody to avoid the feeling of solitude. For being alone means dealing with our true feelings: fear, anxiety, confusion, uncertainty, resentment, disappointment, excitement, anticipation, and so on and so forth. And it doesn’t really matter if our feelings are positive or negative—they are overwhelming and exhausting, and so we prefer to numb ourselves to them. The bottom line is that we are all addicted to avoiding ourselves to an extent. Acknowledging this addiction is the first step to healing it. So begin today by just noticing, with curiosity and without judgment, all of the ways in which you avoid being in your own skin, right here, right now, in this present moment we call life.  (covered in the “Mindfulness” chapter of our NEW book)

5 Places happiness is found

https://www.christianquotes.info/images/5-places-happiness-is-found/

Is Happiness A Good Test for Truth?

~ Ryan Pauly

You might think it’s an intrusion when strangers knock on the door. But when three Mormon missionaries showed up at my friend’s apartment, I excitedly ran down the stairs to talk to them. It’s not everyday that people ride bikes to your house to discuss truth, and evangelism doesn’t get much easier than that.

The elders asked us if we had read the Book of Mormon, and I mentioned that I own a copy. This raised their curiosity and excitement as they began to tell us about how Mormonism had changed their lives. One of the elders had just left Salt Lake City the previous week to start his mission. He stated that before arriving in Salt Lake City he had not been happy, but the training deepened his faith and made him happy again. This was a timely discussion, since I just wrote about whether or not our happiness is God’s priority.

Read more: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/is-happiness-a-good-test-for-truth