By John Braland
I’m going to get right to the point. I want to be happier. It’s not that I’m sad, I just want to be happier. I want to smile more and frown less. I want to spend more time enjoying life and less time rushing through it. I want to invest more time with people who lift me up rather than wasting it with people who drag me down. I want to be more encouraging, more engaging, and more involved. I want to be the type of person others want to be around. That’s all I’m asking for. Is it too much? I hope not. If you think about it, maybe you feel the same.
Technically, happiness is based on what is happening around you. If good things are happening around you, then you are more likely to feel happy. If bad things are happening around you, then you are more likely to feel less happy, frustrated, or stuck. This is because happiness is based on external “happenings.”
The key to real happiness is two-fold. First, if you are a Christian, draw from the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit living in you. The Holy Spirit enables us to be joyful regardless of what is happening around us, because of what is happening in us. We are able to draw incredible joy in knowing that God loves us, forgives us, and accepts us.
Our identity is found in Christ and not in other people’s perceptions of us. There is joy in connecting with our creator through our relationship with Jesus Christ. So, real happiness originates from the joy within us, not just circumstances happening around us.
Second, change the things you can that are happening around you. Put yourself in situations that bring you happiness. Surround yourself with good friends. Take some “me” time. Have an extra cup of coffee or tea and stare out the window for an extra couple of minutes.
Do the best you can to avoid people that drag you down and draw closer to those that lift you up. You have the power to change some of your external circumstances, so change the things you can.
I was meeting with a good friend and mentor of mine complaining about not being as happy as I wanted to be. He essentially asked me who was responsible for changing the circumstances that made me feel unhappy. I said that ultimately, I was.
He replied: “Then change the things you can.” He was right. I needed to take ownership of what was happening around me and have begun to do that. It has made a difference.
The reality is that if I want to be a happier person, I need to change what is happening within me and the happenings around me. So, if you are mad that you are not happy, you need to do the same. Begin by tapping into the joy of Christ within you. The sooner you do this the better. Once you tap into the joy that comes from Christ you will have the strength you need to make all the external changes you have to. Take ownership of the things that are happening around you and change what you need to.
It might be difficult and take some time, but you can do it. Do it for yourself and become the happier person you want to be.
Pastor John Braland is with Freshwater Community Church in Waconia and St. Bonifacius.