Happy New Year!
How are your goals and resolutions coming so far?
I did a dream-board once. You know, that thing where you post pictures from magazines on a poster-board, put it up in your room, and stare at it everyday as a reminder of the things you want to achieve that you hope will make you happy. Spoiler alert: those things won’t make you happy.
In fact, things, can never make you happy.
Moreover, “The Pursuit of Happiness” is a misnomer. The more you pursuit it, the more you chase it, the more you try and squeeze satisfaction from life, the less happy you’ll be come. Just look at the celebrity world of drug addition, depression, and suicide. People who seemingly “have it all”, but are miserable. I could give you example after example. If you really need one, here’s Jane Fonda’s plan to build a shrine to herself in 2015 in an attempt to reminder herself to be happy and more confident.
That crap never works. The culture around us is always selling. It pedals the same old empty strategy of satisfaction and pleasure:
“Get yours. No one else will get it for you. Do what makes you happy.”
Then it sells you more drugs when nothing you bought, tried, or chased makes you happy.
Here’s why that self-centered-consumer approach can’t work—this is a counter-intuitive secret of the universe:
Happiness is RECEIVED, not achieved.
Sit with that idea for a moment.
I know, I know. I’m a buzz-kill. You just bought the 7 Series. Or you’re planning a cruise across the Mediterranean while you employ all the methods of The Four Hour Work Week. It’s okay. Those things aren’t necessarily bad. Just understand that nothing you “consume” for yourself or “bless” yourself with will ultimately satisfy that relentless hunger in your soul.
Jesus claimed to be GOD, and to be the Source of happiness and contentment:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10)
That means a life of abundance, purposefulness, satisfaction, contentment, and the elusive feeling that you’re enough—you’re loved; you’re special—just the way you are.
Do you believe that GOD actually wants to give you a full and meaningful life?
He does. He loves you way more than you love you.
Keep in mind, His rich and satisfying life probably looks differently than you think it does. (More on that in future posts.)
Another related, but ironic, teaching from Jesus:
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Matthew 10:39 (NLT)
Are you white-knuckling your life and squeezing the joy out of all your blessings? Are you clinging to what you think you’re entitled to and deserve?
Just like a parent on Christmas morning, God loves to give good gifts to His children. Do you trust Him?
Here’s the kicker, the more you focus on yourself the fewer gifts you’ll recognize from God…the fewer gifts you’ll appreciate from God…and the fewer gifts you’ll be able to receive from God.
So, try an eXperiment this week…
- Request God’s blessings. By asking you’re training your mind to trust that He is the Source. In the scriptures God invites you to ask. So ask.
- Recognize God’s blessings. Because He’s already blessed you like crazy! You’ll never be able to enjoy God’s future blessings if you can’t see the ways He’s already blessing you. Plus, if you’re only looking at dream-boards and focusing on what you don’t have, you’ll never appreciate the things you do have. Ever. Like, even when you achieve the things on your dream-board you won’t be able to appreciate them because you’ve trained yourself just want what you don’t have. (Enter endless consumer-culture cycle.)
Tips for becoming a more grateful person and recognizing your blessings:
- Thank God for anyone who loves you.
- Thank God for anything that brings you joy.
- Thank God for whatever level of health you enjoy.
- Thank God for whatever amount of resources you employ.
- Thank God for anything you can think of.
- Thank God. Every day.
- Receive God’s blessings. Open your hands. Like, right now. This physical gesture is an outward expression of an inner surrender. Decide that you are not your own source of blessing. Your Creator and the designer of this Universe probably knows a little something about what will actually bring you contentment and purpose in life. Trust Him.
*Next time, in “Experimenting with Happiness—Part 2” we’ll explore the surprising secret to a life of blessing that is right in front of you.