How Can We Be Happy?

     Everyone wants to be happy; we all want to have lives filled with joy.  Yet so many Americans do not experience happiness.  How do we live with a deep, profound sense of joy?
      First, connect with Jesus Christ.  French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascall once said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”  Jesus used the metaphor that He was the vine, and we are the branches.  We flourish because of being connected to Him.  Joy is a specific fruit that blossoms from that connection (Galatians 5:22).   The God who made us is generally smiling; as we walk with Him that joy spills into our lives.  Joni Eareckson Tada, who has spent over 50 years in a wheelchair, is often asked about her evident joy.  She has revealed her secret.  She shared that when she is struggling in the morning she will pray, “I don’t have a smile to take into the day.  May I have yours?  God, I need you desperately” (How to Deal With How You Feel, Dr. James Merritt, 137).  God says yes!
      Second, connect with others.  It fascinates me that God made the beautiful garden of Eden, created Adam but then says, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).   We thrive in the context of human connection.  A walk with a beloved spouse, playing a game with your grown child, laughing at your grandchild’s antics and sipping coffee with a friend; each of these connections are ingredients for human flourishing.   The walk of life is best done holding the hands of others.  
      Third, cultivate gratitude.  Not everything will be perfect in life, there will be hardship and suffering.  Gratitude is the best lens through which to view our lives.  Turn our focus to our blessings, to the parts of life that are going well.  When I am annoyed with someone close to me, I attempt to step back and remind myself of all the positives about the person that I am grateful for; this practice is incredibly helpful changing my frustrated focus to a more grateful gaze in their direction.     
      Fourth, clarify calling.  The Apostle Paul had a very difficult life.  He was given 39 lashes with a whip five different times, beaten with rods three times and was stoned once (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).  Yet Paul wrote the book of Philippians which some theologians call the book of joy because it’s such a prominent theme.  Remember he wrote the book while in prison!  Paul could embrace painful suffering because he believed that he was living out God’s call on his life, sharing the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.  Proclaiming the good news of Jesus was worth whatever price he had to pay.
      Choose joy, there is no better way to live.
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church