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  • Writer's pictureDiane Alvarado

Healthy Conversations: Happiness- What IS Happiness Anyway?

Updated: May 11, 2021

Do you ever wonder what it really means to be happy? Are you a naturally happy person or are you struggling finding happiness? How much do you really think about what the word "happy" means? In this article, we dive into some pretty honest questions stemming from last weeks discussion. For more insight on what the bible says about happiness, read on.

What is happiness? We can all state things or people who make us happy. For me, I'm most happy when I'm with my family. When we are all together. My husband, my kids and grandkids make me smile to no end. I'm also extremely happy when I'm eating steak. Oh, and lobster. (Food in general, now that I'm thinking about it). Also, camping, music, the ocean, sailing, lake front views....I could go on and on. The dictionary describes happiness as "The quality or state of being happy. Good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy".

Happiness, (as most people think of it), tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was a deep foundation of trust in God? A rock on which I can stand, regardless of external triggers, other people, things, places, thoughts and events. A choice that I make, over and over in life. A choice that I can make using the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, the Bible says: “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” - Proverbs 16:20.

Is it a requirement that a Christian should be happy? Is it wrong to feel sad if you are a Christian? What if I worry too much, is that wrong? What if I get frustrated a lot? Doesn't that portray a lack of faith or not following Christ? What kind of example would that be to the unbeliever if I'm not happy? When things are going wrong and there is an obstacle at every turn, can we be happy? Then on the other hand, when good things are happening for us but we see others struggle, how can we still be happy?

These are all great questions that came up when discussing happiness. The topic of discussion was "Isn't happiness one of God's highest priorities?" Well, I can only answer by what the bible says and my answer to this is both yes and no. On one hand, God doesn’t like to see us suffer and be in pain because He is a merciful God and loves us to no end. Just like you don't like seeing someone you love suffer, God doesn't like seeing his children suffer. The Word says in Psalms, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.

On the other hand, when we are going through struggles, He knows that it will lead us to greater happiness because it causes us to have greater dependence on Him.

In these moments, happiness isn’t necessarily a priority, but growing in Christ is. As I've mentioned before in previous articles, sometimes we get a white knuckle grip on certain things in our life and God has to pry these things from of our fingers. These are things that we wouldn't normally let go. This is growth. Opening our eyes and hearts is more important, because God’s highest priority is us having a relationship with Him and Him with us.

Normally, the word "happy" equates with our human feelings and emotions, when actually, a Christian life should not be lived on the basis of feelings at all, but on the basis of faith! In general, God likes to bless his children and see us happy and thriving. He also likes to see his children take notice of what He is trying to teach them.

I can feel sad about the state of the world. I can be sorrowful because of great loss. I can be confused and frustrated at my current circumstances. And at the same time I do not have to lose my faith and confidence that God has His hand over my life and that He will cause all things to work together for my very best. With His power I can overcome anything that would cause me to lose my peace, my hope, my contentment, and my joy. If I’m waiting to feel like I’m on cloud 9, as the expression goes, then maybe I’ll wait forever. But do I have this deep anchor of faith that when in God’s hands, then all is as it should be. Is that not the truth of what happiness is? Let’s see what the Bible says in Psalm 146:5 : “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Psalm 146:5.

Is it wrong to seek happiness?

No, absolutely not. What matters though is how we define happiness. If we become consumed with material things that replace the Lord in our lives, then it is wrong to pursue this kind of happiness, because we’re valuing things above God. It’s not wrong to have or want nice things. It becomes unhealthy when that’s all you think about. It becomes unhealthy when boasting occurs. However, there is nothing wrong with pursuing a career you want, buying something special once in awhile, or enjoying time with friends and family. In fact, God brings much blessing in those exact ways.

Is it wrong to suggest that someone should be happy even though something painful has happened in their life? Or that they should be happy even when dealing with depression, PTSD and other illnesses?

We all experience situations in which we are “shaken”. Depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are rampant in todays society and definitely contribute to the loss of happiness. So if you equate happiness with only good feelings, then it would be wise to reevaluate your definition of true happiness. I guess we could call it superficial happiness vs Christ-filled happiness. With Christ-filled happiness comes contentment and peace, even in hard times. Superficial happiness usually stems from things, needs being met and temporary satisfaction, and often comes with anxiety, frustration and dissatisfaction or the need for more.

The way I see it is that happiness is not just a human emotion, but an established confidence in God and His love for me; a deep spiritual rest and certainty. It is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always.” That doesn’t mean for me to rejoice that a very painful thing has happened in my life, but to rejoice that I know that God’s hand is over me regardless of what has happened. To know that I can lean on Him, that He will bear me up and hold me in His hand through the hard times, through the trials, through the sorrows.

One important key action you can take right this very moment, is decide to be happy. Refuse to be sad, angry or harbor any bitterness! Hold up your head, dust off your knees, straighten that crown and remember that you are a child of God and saved by grace! Honor God by appreciating all He has done for you and that He holds you in his Mighty Right Hand! Put things, people, places and your own thoughts aside and just bask in that! Know that God is in full control, take your own grip off of the path you are on and let God lead you down the path He chooses! Let go of the disappointments and the let-downs. Let go of over-thinking and open your heart to faith!

You see, you can get happy because you have something good, but you can also get happy because your expecting something good that you don't even have yet. I really love that! Our privilege is to be full of hope, because that's something we can do on purpose. It's not based on our circumstances. I can't always make my circumstances line up with what I would like them to be, but I can hope that good things are on their way. Psalm 5:11 says, "Let those who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits". So, we're supposed to be in a really good mood all the time then? What if I just don't feel very happy? Well, your greatest privilege as a believer is you don't have to live by how you feel, you can live by what you know. In Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it".

Rejoicing in gladness,


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