When I think of happy, I immediately think of Snoopy from the Charles Schulz cartoon Peanuts doing his happy dance. He has a big smile, his feet are dancing, his arms are open wide – he has not a care in the world.
That is really happy.
Key to Happiness
Of course, I’ve never been that happy. I’ve been over-joyed, elated, ecstatic and “pleased-as-punch,” but never Snoopy happy. And I’m okay with that. I think happiness comes in degrees and everyone has their level of happiness.
The key to happiness, however, is understanding everyone has a shot at being happy to some degree.
My research (Googling “How to be happy”) indicates that there are a lot of ways to get to the state of happy. Some of them I agree with and some I simply do not understand—like “listen to sad music,” and then the very next suggestion is to “think of happy memories.”
But in general, most of these recommendations demonstrate exactly my personal belief: you are in charge of your happiness. And what works for one person may not work for another.
And just like the varying degrees of happiness, there are varying degrees of how much you are in charge of your happiness.
For example, if you believe that baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies is the path to happiness, then you are completely in charge of your happiness. You are in charge of getting off the couch, buying the ingredients, preheating the oven, mixing the cookies, setting the timer, pulling cookies out of the oven, eating the cookies, and going to the gym to work off the sugar high. Every step is yours.
On the other hand, if something as simple as making other people smile makes you happy, then you are only in charge of part of your happiness. You are in charge of smiling, or telling jokes, or whatever you think makes people smile. The people you try to make smile are in charge of their response, but you have done your job. You tried, and if they smile, you are happy. However, if you tried and they did not smile, now you’re not happy, but not because of lack of effort.
Most suggestions on how to be happy require you to be in charge of a lot of steps. Pathways to happiness such as being with friends, taking a trip, and learning a new skill, all require a lot of personal effort.
And, through my experience, anything that requires a lot of effort includes an equal number of excuses to not complete each step. And every excuse is one reason not to be happy.
When your pathway to being happy has very few steps, it also has very few excuses not to be happy.
God’s Plan for Happiness
God designed us to be happy. God wants us to be happy. Psalm 37:4 says.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Doesn’t having the desires of our heart sound like unending, eternal happiness?
I understand the sticking point for many is the first part, that we need to take delight in the Lord.
I can tell you from experience, that is the best part. Knowing and understanding the Lord leads to a life where many of the big questions are answered—where will I spend eternity, what do I rely on to determine right and wrong, how do I determine my life’s calling—all lead to peace of mind, which is true happiness.
Isaiah 12:3 says: ” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
I know it doesn’t sound like Snoopy happy, but it is true happiness. Drawing from the strength of God leads to real happiness.
And best of all, it takes very few steps.