There is a certain amount of anger, anxiety, and angst in our nation today. The news networks, rife with conflict, discord, and disdain, may only be a reflection of us. The Jerry Springer Show, now in its 28th season, has proven that we all love to see a good train wreck. We seem to enjoy other’s unhappiness. What would Jesus say about that?
When you see Jesus with the people he loved and you read the things he did and taught, you discover that Jesus was a very happy person. What was his secret to happiness?
Jesus on Happiness
Jesus didn’t have much. When he died, the soldiers drew lots for his only earthly possession – his tunic. Yet the gospel writer tells us that Jesus was “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21).
Jesus told his disciples that he was teaching them everything that the Father had given him, “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Five Things Happy People Do
Here are five things Jesus did that are essential for building happiness in your life. These are five things happy people do.
1. Happy people stop to smell the roses.
Jesus and his disciples were walking one day when Jesus stopped, pointed to a beautiful meadow, and said, “Look at the beautiful flowers in that field …” (Matt. 6:26). He pointed to the sky and said, “Take a lesson from those carefree birds …” (Matt. 6:28). Jesus took the time to stop and reflect on the beauty all around.
Happy people may have times when they are going 100 mph like the rest of us, but they have mastered the ability to create a space where they can stop and enjoy the beautiful things in life.
As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round. — Ben Hogan
Happy people make time to hike or fish or hunt or golf or grill or play in the park or whatever connects them to the beauty of nature and other people. And they know how to soak in those moments and squeeze them for all they’re worth.
2. Happy people let go of what they can’t control.
Jesus understood that his destiny was crucifixion in Jerusalem. He told his disciples on numerous occasions that he was headed for that sacrifice (Matt. 16:21; Mark 10:33; Luke 18:31). It wasn’t easy to accept, but in the end, his prayer to God was, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39).
In other words, Jesus let go of the one thing he had no control over. When the torch-carrying posse came for him he was able to say, “Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matt. 26:46).
Happy people are able to work hard at changing the things they can change, improving in areas that they can control, and letting go and letting God deal with the things they have no control over. This is difficult but essential for true peace of mind and happiness.
The opening paragraph of the Serenity Prayer by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr comes to mind:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
3. Happy people learn from their mistakes.
Peter made a terrible mistake. After Jesus was arrested, Peter denied he knew him – and he did it three times – the third time right in front of Jesus. It was a terrible moment of moral cowardice for Peter.
Here’s the thing – Denying Jesus wasn’t his first mistake (see Matt. 16:23), nor would it be his last (see Gal. 2:11-21), but Peter learned from his mistakes.
After the resurrection, Jesus restored Peter and Peter went on to become one of the greatest Christian preachers of the First Century. Peter’s story is one of the great comeback stories of the Bible.
Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes. — Oscar Wilde
Happy people understand that we all make mistakes (James 3:2) and that the mistake is not the last word of your life story. Happy people are able to acknowledge their mistakes, own them, learn from them, and keep from repeating them.
4. Happy people swap self-pity for gratitude.
Jesus approached a man who had been an invalid most of his life. The man was sitting next to a pool of water in Jerusalem that was associated with healing. When the water was stirred (probably from underground springs) people would rush into the water to be healed.
Jesus asked the man, “Don’t you want to get well?” The man said, “Sure, but I have no one to help me into the pool when the waters are stirred” (John 5:1-9).
The man had been sitting there for 38 years and had never managed to get into the water. He was suffering from a victim’s mentality.
Victims make excuses – “I have no one to help me.” And Jesus responds, “Get up and walk!” In other words, “Take control of your life!”
Self-pity is spiritual suicide. It is an indefensible self-mutilation of the soul.” — Anthon St. Maarten
Happy people don’t allow themselves to wallow for long in a state of self-pity. We’ve all been there. Happy people don’t stay there. They swap self-pity for gratitude.
5. Happy people seek validation from God.
Jesus always spoke the truth (John 8:32; 14:6). It created a lot of enemies. At a certain point, his truth became too hard to take and many of his followers began to leave him (John 6:60, 66). In the end, they all left him (Matt. 26:56). Jesus spent his last few months on the run from authorities and at odds with even his closest disciples.
No matter – Jesus didn’t seek ultimate validation from people. His sense of self-worth came from his heavenly Father (John 17:1). Jesus loved his disciples, but he was quick to cut them off if their agenda was not God’s agenda (Mark 8:33).
Happy people don’t try to please everyone. Constantly seeking validation from other people is to become divorced from your true self.
Sometimes you aren’t listening to your body because you’re listening to everybody else’s expectations.” — Ann Voskamp
Happy people are defined by God’s will for their lives. Whether other people like them or not isn’t as important – what matters most is that they are walking the path that God has for them.
There they are!
FIVE things Jesus modeled for us so that we could find happiness.
I hope you take them to heart as you seek God’s peace and happiness for your life.