What you think about yourself ,your world and other people is more important to your happiness than the circumstances of your life.
”The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven out of Hell or a Hell out of Heaven “ John Milton – Paradise Lost.
I am gleaning from a book entitled The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky a scientific approach to getting the life that you want. She states that 40 percent of your life in regards to happiness is within your power to change by exercising certain activities. Over the next few weeks I want to take a look at them in light of the Bible. She obtained her findings scientifically. I am convinced that if it is true you can find the principle in the Word. God’s Word is ultimate Reality. So if it is real it is in the Word.
Happiness Activity No 1: Expressing Gratitude:
Gratitude is defined as “A felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and a appreciation for life . The practice of gratitude involves a focus on the present moment, on appreciating your life as it is today and what made it so.
Eight Ways that Gratitude Boosts Happiness:
1. Grateful things promotes the savoring of positive life experiences. By relishing and taking pleasure in some of the gifts of your life, you will be able to extract the maximum possible satisfaction from your current circumstances. Appreciate the good you have right now this moment will never occur again.
Php 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
2. Expressing gratitude builds worth and self esteem. When you begin to realize how much people have done for you or how much you have accomplished you feel more confident. As a pastor I get up every Sunday morning to meet with folks that I want to see come into the blessing of all that the Lord has done for them. Being thankful for what He has done makes us realize just to what great lengths He has gone to to makes us His. We are the object of His Love.
Eph 3:14 ¶ For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
3. Gratitude helps us cope with stress and trauma . Focusing on what is good which is God in our lives defeats the fear that tries to grip us in adversity. The natural reaction to trauma or adversity is to think of all the bad things that can happen. Negative experiences spring to mind. By delibertly givng thanks our hope that we developed from past victorys floods our minds and give us something to use our faith on.
1Sa 17:36 “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”
Rom 5:1 ¶ Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
4. The Expression of Gratitude promotes righteous living. Grateful people are more likely to help others. They are aware of how much others have helped them by kindness and feel compelled to reciprocate and are less likely to be fixated on material things.
2Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;
15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
5. Gratitude helps build and strengthen relationships. When you are aware of the value of your family and friends you will treat them better and deepen the relationship. I have found in my own marriage if things begin to get rough with strife coming in that if I take a few moments to appreciate the good things that are in my life because of my wife gratitude rises in my heart and strife is out the door.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
6. Gratitude tends to inhibit comparisons with others. When you focus on what you do have you are less likely to envy others and compare your lives.
2 cor 10:12 ¶ For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
13 But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.
PHP 1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
7. Gratitude helps us thwart hedonic adaptation ( the tendency of humans to rapidly take for granted any new circumstance or experience. In other words what thrilled us yesterday bores us today. The person who so greatly effected our lives a year ago we now through familiarity despise.
Rom 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
It is important to express gratitude. Practice gratitude by writing down what you are grateful for. Count your blessings. If you are in a negative mindset this can be difficult but find one thing at a time in which you are fortunate. Create a Gratitude Journal in which you constantly list things for which you are grateful.
Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has effected your life in a positive manner. Express gratitude directly to another. By phone letter just do it. Tell your spouse or parent something you appreciate about them. Everyone loves to be acknowledged as to their contributions to life. Your gratitude blesses them and causes you to realize their importance in your life. Express gratitude you will be happy you did.