be happy, happy family, happy marriage

Give Your Family the Gift of a Happy You

Happiness has gotten a bad rap. Some worry that focusing on happiness waters down our church sermons and keeps people away from the deep treasures of God’s word. In psychology classes, student’s have expressed concern that being happy is selfish. Nevertheless, I am convinced that focusing on our own happiness is the best gift that we can give to others, and that being happy is profoundly spiritual.

While it’s  true that when happiness is elevated above all else, it can become selfish, there is much more to the story. In this post, I’m excited to share with you why taking the time to add more joy to your life could be one of the most spiritual, and least selfish, things that you do!

The Spiritual Side of Being Happy

Pastor John Piper states, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” This is the thesis of his book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. The truth is that God cares about our joy.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD,”  and  1 Timothy 6:6 proclaims that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The Bible exhorts Christ-followers to be happy. So much so that chronic unhappiness could be be viewed as disobedience.

[Tweet “Being happy implies that we are satisfied with the blessings God has given us.”]

But the value of our own happiness goes even deeper than this. God has called Christ-followers to love and serve others. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to attend to our own happiness.

The Giving Side of Happiness

[Tweet “Happy people are giving people!”] When we are content with what we have, and with who we are, it’s easy to share with others. Happiness doesn’t breed selfishness, discontent does.

One of the best gifts Jenny gives me is the smile she greets me with. In the morning–when Jenny wakes up–she gresets me with an enormous hug. When I return home from work, Jenny’s bright smile and caring words are there to greet me. These simple acts of love set the tone for our happy home.

During these moments, nothing else matters.

  • The house might be a mess.
  • We could be in the midst of financial challenges.
  • The children may be sick.

But Jenny and I are happy. We are on the same team, and whatever the challenges of the day may be, we will tackle them together.

[Tweet “Happiness is contagious! Being in a cheerful mood is a bigger blessing to others than we realize.”]

happy

The Loneliest People In America

One of my favorite professors suggests that the loneliest people in America are not the single adults. Married couples–the one’s who go to sleep back to back, thinking when is this pain going to end?–these are the people who are truly lonely. Feeling trapped, in an isolated relationship, is one of the worst feelings in the world. I’ve been there, and it’s something I hope to never experience again.

I’m a fairly independent guy. I have have the ability to do my own dishes, fold my laundry, and cook my own meals. In fact, I love doing these things for Jenny too. I can change our kiddo’s diapers, and fix their hair–although it’s always much fancier when Jenny takes charge.

In the end, the one thing that I can’t do is make Jenny happy. Proverbs 21:9 & 19 states that it’s better to live on the corner of the roof top, and alone in the desert, than with a quarrelsome wife. And, to be fair, I’m sure that the same things could be said about living with an angry and contentious husband too.

The Gift of a Happy You

The best gift that Jenny gives to me is a happy home. Our happiness matters, and not just to us, but to everyone we come in contact with. Happy people make the best spouses, parents, and coworkers.

If you think I’m being extreme, take a moment to consider the fact that your unhappiness could literally drive you and those around you crazy. Every year, I teach the diatheses-stress model of mental illness at our seminary. A diathesis, is a genetic propensity toward a particular mental illness. Everyone has one. Add enough stress to the mix, and mental illness, or a maladaptive way of managing stress, will kick in. [Tweet “Happiness is good for your mental health.”] It’s also good for the mental health of those around you. In the words of Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Your Happiness Matters

If more people took time to attend to their own happiness, there would be:

  • Fewer divorces and less single parent homes.
  • A reduced rate of mental illness.
  • A lower crime rate.
  • More giving.
  • More laughter in our homes.
  • An abundance of joy in the world.

This list could easily go on. The bottom line is that your happiness is much more than selfish-fluff. Being happy is a powerful way of taking care of ourselves, and caring for those around us. If you’re feeling stressed-out right now… If your situation appears overwhelming… If your frustrated and upset… Why not pause, take a deep breath, and spend a few minutes focusing on you. I believe that you are worth it!

For more ideas on how to attend to your own happiness, you can download my free booklet, Be Happier NowIt’s the ultimate checklist for a happier, healthier, and more spiritual you!

Happiness is contagious! How are you attending to your own happiness, and passing on that joy to others? If you had to choose between arriving home from work to a happy spouse and a messy home, or a messy home and a spouse who is filled with joy, which would you choose and why? I’m looking forward to continuing our happiness conversation in the comments below!

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

33 thoughts on “Give Your Family the Gift of a Happy You”

  1. Ouch, I feel like I have been slapped with reality by this post! We didn’t have extensive marriage counselling before we got married but that was because the most important thing was taught easily…you cannot MAKE the other person happy, so stop trying. The idea was that we have to choose happiness for ourselves and in that it will make the other feel happy as well…if I want to be grumpy, not much is going to change that…and I often forget how easily a warm hug can change the entire mood of my home!

  2. I am with Caroline – I tend to think of the emotion happiness as an earthly/temporary thing, while joy flows no matter the circumstance when I am leaning into the Spirit within. But I totally agree with your point, we have to decide to make choices that will make a pleasant home for our family and our marriages – and leaning to the One who can fulfill us completely is an excellent choice.

  3. I love this! My favorite part is where you share that your wife greeting you sets the tone for your home, and that you strive to be happy together despite your circumstances!!
    Cathy

  4. I think we essentially agree, but I use the word joy. Happy to me has a connotation of being caused BY circumstances, versus Joy being contentment in Christ regardless of our circumstances. But that is really just semantics. Finding joy or happiness in Christ is what we need to be a light in our homes and the world.

  5. I love this statement, “Being happy is a powerful way of taking care of ourselves, and caring for those around us.” It is so true. The bible also states to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. How can we love others if we are unhappy with our lives and selves. Great post. Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays.

  6. After a rough, sassy weekend, your post offers happy words to chew on, Jed. And adding stress to the mix? Oh.my.goodness. Yes, it’s a game changer, and I find myself reacting differently than hoped. I guess you could say I’m a work in progress, continuing to look Above for help. So, so glad we’re neighbors at #raralinkup because you’ve offered a shot of encouragement here today.

  7. Choosing to be happy is key. Of course there are some seriously bad things that can happen and chemical imbalances, but for the most part we have to choose to look at the bright side. It does bless everyone around us!

  8. My favorite words were, “Happiness is much more than selfish fluff.” That is so true. My husband says that all sins have selfishness as the underlying problem. I have to admit, sometimes I have to remind myself, “It’s not all about me.”

  9. It’s so true that our disposition affects our mate. I know what you mean about how even if the house is a mess when you come home, what you really want to see is your wife’s smiling, attentive face. I’ve noticed that when I’m negative, it brings the rest of the household down FAST. But if I’m careful to cultivate joy, and to smile, pass on happiness and cheerfulness to others, it also lifts the atmosphere at home.

  10. Completely agree with what you share. What I’m slowly learning is that the second commandment flows out of the first. If we truly love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart and soul then His joy fills us to overflowing and it is then we give to others without even realizing we’re giving (along the lines of the Scripture: Give to the needy without letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing). I see it in my daughter: she pours out love and affection upon me and those around her without noticing. And we too are called into that boundless joy as beloved children of God: when we choose to accept His Love and Grace.

    This is a daily learning curve for me though, as God is breaking the hold of lies upon my life.

    Thank you for your encouragement here.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this very edifying and encouraging post. Your insights brought to light things about contentment and happiness that I haven’t thought as deeply about.

    I especially found your comment, “When we are content with what we have, and with who we are, it’s easy to share with others. Happiness doesn’t breed selfishness, discontent does.” very profound, but oh so simple to achieve. I remember hearing a person say that the only thing we can control in life is our own happiness. It’s all about the attitudes we carry and putting our trust in the One who has loved us eternally.

    I leave here feeling spurred on to be happy! 🙂

  12. What a difference a smile makes! My hubby kisses me and hugs me before he walks out the door. I greet him at the door with a smile no matter how the day went. Took me a long time to learn that beautiful lesson. HA! I watched our dog waiting on him at the door and thought wow.

    Great truths here you shared.

  13. A healthy family starts with healthy parents. We need to be good role models for our children so that they know how to respect themselves. Thanks for this reminder. Pinning, tweeting and stumbling this post as well.

  14. Spread this awesomeness Jed and Jenn at my Party at My Place linkup. Still going on. I saw your comment on my site, but didn’t see your post linked. This has great tips for every family, relationship and so true. “Happiness is good for your mental health,” yes, indeed it is. And it begins with each one of us. Share, share, share!

  15. I do believe in the pursuit of happiness. When you are happy the world smile back and everything else change for the better in your life. You have to just want to be happy. Finding peace within yourself by releasing your negative mindset is a great help. Thank you for sharing encouraging message!

  16. To me, happiness seems too fleeting. More based on an emotion or something someone did for me. Instead I’m learning to be grateful spiritually which I know breeds contentment and finally joy. I want to live in the joy of all Christ has done. If people mistake that for happiness, that’s okay too 🙂

  17. Great post, Jed! You know happiness is a favorite topic of mine.

    I think the conflict some Christians have with happiness is they think of happiness as a mood. Happiness is a state of mind.

    Happiness grows when we savor God’s blessings, express gratitude, and give generously–all things God asks of us.

    I’d choose the happy spouse over the clean home any day.

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