One thing I’ve come to learn is that yours truly, me, that’s right, I am the only one with the remote control to my mood.
Sure, things happen that affect our moods every day. Sometimes, life gets real and we are left in the aftermath with all these feelings: anger, shock, sadness, anxiety, etc., etc. Not one of us is immune to every day trials and tribulations, and unless you’re a sociopath or have the emotional capacity of a tree stump, your mood will be affected.
So how can we adapt to life without being swept into a deep depression or drowning in overwhelming anxiety? How can we cope with road rage or obnoxious co-workers without secretly wanting to ram into the bumper of a complete stranger or stage a kidnapping of said co-worker?
As always, God’s Word is full of the best advice known to mankind.
You see, the world has it all wrong. The world says, “Just do what makes you happy”. Well, sometimes what makes us “happy” isn’t possible. For instance, sometimes we’d like to take a vacation because we need a break; but it’s Wednesday and you’ve already used up all your vacation time because your middle child had to have an appendectomy. Most of us wouldn’t be able to just quit our jobs and leave on a Wednesday for a much needed getaway. Last I heard, appendectomies aren’t free, and eventually Junior’s appetite will return and you’ll need to be able to buy groceries for him.
So now what?
Do we mope around in a bad mod until we build our vacation days back up and finally pay of the hospital bills? Nope.
I choose to be happy despite my circumstances.
One of my all-time favorite Bible passages can be found in Philippians 4:11-12.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we morph into clones of Pollyanna and skip around with a superficial “happiness”. No, this is a peace that passes all understanding.
Here are some Biblical premises that will help us protect our happiness.
- Don’t worry about things we can’t control: just learn from them, grow, and move on. Check out Matthew 6:25-34. We are literally told to stop thinking beyond today. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will wear: life is so much more than that. Trust in God and obey his commands and at the end of the day, what else matters? Nothing. Just because we don’t understand what we are going through at the moment doesn’t give us a reason to worry about it, and believe me, this one is tough for me, AKA, a control freak. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” We shouldn’t “lean on our own understanding” because we can’t always see the big picture.
- Learning more about God’s Will and submitting to it leads to happiness. We aren’t told that happiness is easy to come by, but we are told how to find it. Proverbs 29:18 says, “He that keepeth the law; happy is he.” Can’t get much plainer than that. I think sometimes we forget that happiness is not of this world. We won’t find happiness that is independent of this world until we are no longer conformed to this world.
- When I lose myself in work for the Lord, I find true happiness. Psalm 128:1-2 says “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” There is no greater joy than that found in the service of others. Although I disagree with his religious beliefs, Ghandi had it right when it came to an attitude of service. I love his quote “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Service to others, which is, in turn, service to God, fills a void that can otherwise be filled with angst, despair, and hopelessness. Don’t miss an opportunity to fill that void.
- Put yourself in their shoes. We’ve heard all the quotes and maxims about seeing the world through another’s eyes, walking a mile in their shoes, and so on and so forth. But really. Put yourself in their shoes. See Romans 12:15 “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Don’t just assume that co-worker you want to strangle has no reason to be in a bad mood. Did you ask them what’s going on? Is their family ok? Is there something you could do to make their day better? I promise, more than just your co-worker will benefit from your love and empathy.
- Happiness, true happiness, is not immediate gratification. No one can take our happiness once we understand that it is not dependent on earthly things. You don’t have your mind right if you think a new car will make you happy. It won’t. You’re not going to be happier (not eternally, anyway) with a bigger house, a job promotion, or a smaller dress size.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Happiness that is unaffected by others is attainable. It takes work. It takes patience. It takes a transformation that isn’t popular with the world because it conforms us from that world. But that’s why the world doesn’t understand our peace.
It passes understanding.
I don’t say that in a “nana nana boo boo” kind of way. I want everyone to have this peace, this happiness, that I will continue to protect. I will guard my heart from those throwing fiery darts, but I will press forward in spreading this happiness to a lost and dying world.
So come on, now. Don’t worry. Be happy. 🙂