Happiness in Life’s Everyday Moments

happiness blog.png“For the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” – Proverbs 15:15

Who could disagree with that? That when we are happy, life is great – a continual feast, full and vibrant. The struggle is in finding a happy heart. The struggle is in maintaining a happy heart.

Our culture seems to impress upon us that the way to find happiness is to do great things, achieve fame or success, or to pursue anything of that nature. In essence, happiness is equated to really big moments, mountain-top experiences and big highs.

The writer of Proverbs, though, has a different take. For him, happiness isn’t always found in the big moments, but often in the regular ones, such as a word of encouragement (Proverbs 12:25), some good news (Proverbs 15:30), a smile (Proverbs 15:30) or laughter (Proverbs 17:22).

The point being, we look for happiness in the big moments, but it’s often found in the everyday moments.

And, what is interesting is that social psychology is teaching us the exact same thing. Author, Ron Friedman, puts it this way: “Small, frequent pleasures can keep us happy longer than large, infrequent ones.” Not only is that true, it’s biblical.

So, today, rather than just seeking happiness in the large, giant things, seek to find it in the small and frequent things, such as a good cup of coffee, a smile from a friend, relaxing with your kids or whatever else it may be.

Because, it will not only be good for your soul, it’ll make your life a continual feast.

The Joy of a Ziggle

What is a ziggle you may ask? Only the most amazing toy ever. Hudson has one of these at daycare, and just loves it. So I found it online, got it shipped, and Hudson had one of the best days of his life. Here is a video of him on it:

 

He loves the speed, he loves “ziggling”, and scootering around. He loves spinning faster and faster. He just has such a sense of joy with it.

Here is what struck me with Hudson. Do I get that amount of joy out of anything? I mean Hudson gets pure joy out of the ziggle? Is there anything that gives me that much joy in life?

I don’t ask that question in a downer way or depressing way. I would say I’m a pretty happy, and optimistic person. I ask that question out of a “depth or capacity” concern.

What I mean by that is this: have I through the process of living lost some of my ability to deeply feel joy?

Has my ability to fully experience joy been lessened by living life? Have I lost some capacity for joy, life, and love? Because Jesus is clear – he has come to give life abundant, full life, and joyous life (John 10:10). But have I lost some of that?

And if I’m honest, in some ways the answer to those questions are…yes. In some ways I don’t seem to enter into life as fully as Hudson.  I’m not as prepared as he is to shout with joy.  I’m not maybe as ready to experience joy as deep as he does. And for me this isn’t a guilty thing. This is just a real thing that I hope to change.

And here is how I’m going to change it in three steps.

  1. I’m going to pray and ask God for more joy. I don’t think I’ve ever really done this. But it seems like a good place to start. If you read the Psalms (like 51:8, 12) the writers are often asking for joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, so it’s something that we can be given more of.  Just like we can pray and ask for more patience and self-control. So why not ask for more joy? Seems like a good thing to get to me!
  2. I’m going to spend more time with my boys. I think if you find a source of joy, stick with it. And Jesus says that the Kingdom of God belongs to the childlike. So I’m going to learn from them how to enter the moment.
  3. Last but not least, I’m going to try to have more margin in my life. I’ve noticed the busier I am, the less joyful I feel. So I’m going to try to change this and really enter into the moment.

So those are some of the things I’ve been learning from Hudson, and I think it’s worth thinking about. Oh and there is one more step to finding joy…seeing if anyone makes an adult sized ziggle 🙂

Bringing a Smile with You

Have you ever met someone who just makes you smile every time you see them? Have you ever connected with a person who just makes you feel better after every conversation?

Some people have an amazing gift of making you smile. My wife took this picture of my son and I think it’s amazing.

Here he is literally carting a smile around on his tri-cycle. And when I think about Hudson, this is what he is like for me. He is constantly making me laugh. At any moment he can make me smile, by a phrase, or an action. He’s in the stage now where he asks “that funny?” at so many things.

And if you say, “Yes that was funny” he puts his head back like this picture and just laughs and laughs. It makes me laugh every moment, mostly because he always laugh’s now with a delay. A funny action will happen, he will ask about it, and then laugh.

The point is though that Hudson is so connected to life that he brings me life. He is so connected to happiness, that he brings smiles where ever he goes. And whether you realize this or not, this is a lot like Jesus.

Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life. What that means is that he is life. When we get connected to him, we are literally connecting to life. So as Christians we too should be helping people around us connect with life. After our conversations with others, life, smiles, and grace should linger. We should be the type of people who help people to better connect to life and love because of our connection to God.

This doesn’t mean that sometimes we don’t have deep, honest, and sometimes even difficult conversations. It also doesn’t mean we paint a fake happy face on what we are going through. But, if we, as Christians, aren’t carrying around some deeper joy, some deep smiles, and deep sense of life, then we’re missing out. Because our Savior is the life, the joy, and the grace of the world. The closer we get connected to the life, the more it will spread out from us.

The question is, what lingers in your relationships because of you?

Hudson does have bad days. He has difficult moments. But he is so connected to Jesus, that more often than not he is carting around a smile in his little tri-cycle. More often than not he will ask “that funny?” and we’ll all laugh. More often than not he’s willing to throw back his head and spread joy. This is like Jesus and I think it should be like us too.

So this week if you’re having trouble smiling, Hudson is willing to let you borrow his tri-cycle. Because no one can ride that funny, small thing, without smiling…trust me I’ve tried… 😉

Money Can Buy You Happiness

Money can buy happiness. It’s true and if you’d like to see the study that shows it I’ve posted the video below.

But for the quick version here’s how you can buy some happiness. Spend money on someone else.

Studies have shown that giving and spending money on others actually increases your happiness more than if you would spend it on yourself. Basically the social sciences are now catching up to what the Bible has always taught us: that being generous leads to a fuller life.

So on Sunday we’re actually going to look into this a bit deeper. We are going to be talking about money and finances. Now often when this has been talked about in the church it has been done poorly. This leads people to thinking that the church is just in it for money, that the pastor is trying to get a raise, or that giving gets tied to guilt. But this isn’t the picture of money and finances that the Bible paints. In the Bible guilt isn’t to drive our giving, instead grace is to guide our giving.

So on Sunday we are going to be looking at the topic of money from a different angle: through the lens of grace. We will explore how, when money and giving gets tied to grace, new life forms, how joy explodes, and how you connect not only with God but others. So I hope you can join us.

To prepare why not try this today: take the money you would have spent on yourself for coffee, for lunch, or something else and spend it on someone. See how it makes you feel when grace gets tied to giving. And then we’ll explore it deeper on Sunday. But today why not go out and buy some happiness…