How To Be Happy

envyFinish this sentence: "I'd be happy if ______________".

I had/made more money?

I had a job I liked better?

My marriage/family issues were resolved?

I stopped/started doing something in particular?

I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but your answer is an illusion.

Life will always have problems.

You'll never change that. If the thing you wished for at the start of this article came your way, you'd find something else you wanted/needed.

It's a carrot on a stick.

Peter Rollins, in the book Divine Magician, tells the story of a fisherman who encounters a businessman.

The businessman asks where the fisherman is going, to which the fisherman replies that he is heading to the market to sell his fish.

"And what will you do then?" inquires the businessman.

"Probably sit on the beach with my family and talk with passers by" replies the fisherman.

The businessman is upset. "Why waste all that time? If you spent the rest of the day fishing, you could catch more fish and make more money!"

"What for?" asks the fisherman.

"Because", stammers the businessman, "then you could afford to buy better equipment, to catch even more fish. You may be able to eventually afford a boat and then a whole fleet of boats so that you would have enough money to sit on the beach with your family and talk with passers by!"

The idea that happiness is being held back due to the fact you need something to make happiness possible is a fiction; an illusion.

God tells us that one of the products of his spirit in our lives is joy.

And access to God's spirit is not based on money, or a job you like better, or a healthier relationship or anything you do.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't want better relationships, or seek ways to live a healthier life, and I'm not even saying there's anything inherently wrong with making more money or having a job you like better.

I'm simply saying that if you attempt to derive your happiness from these things, you are doomed to failure.

In seek our fulfillment from anything other than God, the Bible has a term for that: idolatry.

It's pretty clear that God isn't a fan of this concept. We were created to be in relationship with God, and anything getting in the way of that simply hurts ourselves.

So in order to be happy in life, ask yourself: what are the things that I am placing my hope in?

Paul, an early follower of Jesus, wrote this to Timothy, a young man who he was training:

"Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment." (1 Timothy 6:17)

Two things here:

First, if you said 'well, I'm not rich so this doesn't apply to me', I want you to know that an American making a little over $30,000 per year is in the richest 1% of the world.

Second, set aside the whole rich thing and pay attention to what Paul says after that.

Don't trust in money, it's unreliable.

We are rich when we look to God for our enjoyment.

If God is your source of pleasure in life, it can never be lost, broken or taken.

Paul isn't simply blowing smoke at us here, either.

Besides shipwrecks, snakebites, being stoned and locked in prison repeatedly, he seems to be a pretty content guy. At one point, the book of Acts describes him being chained in a dungeon and singing praises to God.

If you want to be happy, stop waiting for something or someone else to make you happy.

Decide that you will be grateful and joyful about what God has given you. Take enjoyment and pleasure in all that you do have.

If we spend our lives looking and waiting for the bigger better thing, we will miss what's around us.

Life is always going to have its challenges.

A video game designer named Notch recently sold a game to Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars and then talked on twitter about the frustration of no longer feeling like he had a purpose other than partying.

You may think this is ridiculous and that you would never get bored of being rich, but simply Google 'money doesn't buy happiness' to read scientific studies on the fact that the Notorious B.I.G. was right when he said 'Mo money, mo problems.'

Choose to be happy where you're at by looking to the God who richly gives.

Think of the times when you got a good job or bought a new car or got a new smartphone. The feeling those things provides you is fleeting. Trying to gain happiness from them will only lead to more pain.

Anchor your happiness in what will not change, and you will be happy.