I skimmed a book last night, one that described a plan for greater happiness. It listed several steps the author felt were sure to increase inner joy. While I wasn’t too crazy about the godless slant, I found the suggestions interesting, because each one corresponded to instructions our Lord has given us:
The first step was to be still and learn to meditate. If you have any doubt that God wants us to learn to quiet our hearts and turn our thoughts to him, please take a look at last week’s blog. Do you spend any time just being silent each day, letting your body rest while your thoughts turn to the One who loves you most? If not, as the old commercial said, “Try it! You’ll like it!” Set a timer for 10 minutes and see how it goes.
Step two was to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Do a Bible Gateway search on the word “thank” in the NIV version, and you’ll get 133 responses. Here’s just one to consider today. “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:13b-20). You can read about Steve’s very practical advice on giving thanks here. Of course, it’s not a bad idea to extend that attitude of gratitude to those around you as well.
Another word of advice was to slow down. I couldn’t agree more. We live in a hustle bustle, hurry-up-and-make-it-on-your-own world. But the Bible says our Lord wants to give us rest. (We can start by keeping the Sabbath.) He also asks us to wait on his timing. That lines up with the author’s chapter on patience. Slow down. Lighten up. Those have been hard lessons for me to learn. I’m still learning them, in fact, and have written about them several times including, here and here.
The author suggested that we need to learn to be better at giving and receiving. Surely the greatest key to a life of joy or happiness is the receiving of God’s grace. And how many other gifts does God have for those of us who are willing to receive them? Are we listening? Paying attention as our Lord speaks and leads us and offers to meet our every need? And then, of course, the Bible has plenty to say about giving to others with great cheer.
I’m blessed with a healthy dose of happiness. From birth? From upbringing? From a host of happy circumstances, or is that merely my happy perspective on things? I can’t tell you with any certainty. I do know that I agree with the title of this song by Ira Stanphill, “Happiness is to know the Savior,” and following our Lord’s advice in all the areas mentioned above certainly can’t hurt!