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Some believe that happiness is merely an emotion, a feeling, that can be easily influenced by outside factors. What if it can be a conscious state of being instead? What if we could nurture a happy, joyful, contented mindset?
Sure, there are times when we cannot help but be swayed by the things that are going on around us. Maybe you had a bad day. Perhaps your boss yelled at you or a project you worked extremely hard on was rejected. Maybe the kids are rowdy and not listening to you. Even in the midst of “life”, we can choose to stay angry, depressed, or moody or we can say: “No, not today. I’m not going to let this ruin my whole day and sour my attitude.”
It will not always be easy. The apostle Paul wrote: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Even when we face challenges and trials, we can overcome by not allowing these experiences to drag us down emotionally or render us anxious.
Isaiah 26:3-4 encourages us: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” And Jeremiah 29:11 promises: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
What a beautiful promise to hold on it! No matter what your life may look like to you right at this moment, if you trust in the Lord, He will take control and guide you to a future and hope. So what do we actually do?
There are many ways that we turn happiness from an emotional response into a habit. Here are just a few simple ones that we can start putting into practice right now:
1. Keep a journal and make a note of what makes you happy so you can see what events in your life are influencing your emotions. If certain things make you happy, try to do them more often. If certain things give you stress or anxiety, try to limit or avoid exposure to them.
2. Eat healthy and exercise. Following a nutritional diet, drinking plenty of water, getting fresh air, and doing moderate exercise on a daily or weekly basis helps our bodies and minds stay balanced. When our minds are balanced, we can handle stressful or difficulty situations more calmly and rationally.
3. Spend time with God every day to help fulfill your spiritual needs and desires. Doing a devotional, reading the Bible, and praying are all calming experiences that can ease tension, fear, and worry. When you relinquish the control and allow God to work in your life, not only will He change you but He may guide you in new ways you did not anticipate.
4. Help others by volunteering your time and talents. Many have realized that helping others cultivates compassion, but it also prevents the development of selfishness, which is often a major source of unhappiness!
Proverbs 17:22 tells us that “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” I choose to make happiness my habit and nurture it every day. How about you?