Am I happy, happy, happy?
Researchers spend a lot of money trying to figure out what makes people happy. They have discovered one of the characteristics all happy people have is that they are generally grateful people.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. Often it takes a serious illness or other tragic event to jolt people into appreciating the good things in their lives.”
They suggest that we identify at least one thing that enriches our life and when we find we’re thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. For example, replace, ‘My sister always forgets my birthday’ with ‘my sister is always there for me’.”
If we could just learn to major on the major things and minor on the minor things, we’d have a whole lot less stress. The older I get, the more I realize, “Some things are just not worth getting upset over.”
It’s so easy to focus on life’s burdens. It’s a little harder to focus on the blessings, especially if you have sick family members or you’re having a hard time making ends meet. Even if it’s hard, it’s worth the effort you gain in personal satisfaction. Research is pretty clear: thinking grateful thoughts helps us get well faster and makes us generally happier.
What does God say? Turns out, He’s been saying the same thing for thousands of years. “Don’t worry about what you’ll eat or what you’ll wear,” he says. “Look at the birds of the air. They don’t sow, or reap, or gather into barns and yet, your heavenly Father takes care of them. Are you not worth much more than they are?”
He goes on to explain that the lilies of the field are clothed greater than a king and they didn’t do anything to earn such grandeur. Jesus very clearly stated, “Your Father knows you have needs, but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS will be added (provided) to you.”
Being grateful is a discipline. It’s something we grow in, through practice. When we fail to practice gratefulness, we tend to get grumpy and unhappy with our surroundings. Know anyone like that? Do you know anyone who is always complaining? Of course, you do. We all know people like that. My question is, “How do others see us?” If they were asked if they knew a complainer, would our name come to their mind?
In Proverbs, Solomon tells us, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart … so you will find favor in the sight of God and man” (Prov 3:3-5). That’s a discipline.
That tells me, kindness can move out if we don’t have the discipline to keep it alive! It’s up to us to fear the Lord and turn away from evil … it will be healing to your body. (Prov. 3:3-5) That’s another discipline.
Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all you have … so your barns will be filled with plenty. (Prov. 3:3-5) That’s another discipline.
Understanding how important gratefulness, kindness and honor are will be a cloak of good around our lives. It’s protection. In Proverbs 2:11, Solomon said, “Understanding will watch over you, to deliver you from the way of evil.” What a wonderful promise.
This in no way guarantees we won’t have trouble in life, or times when we have to run to God for help, but it does guarantee when we run to Him, He will be an ever present help in the time of need. There is no truer song than the old hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus! What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer! Are you happy? If not, practice these things.