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.”]
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,. It’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!