Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It isn't wrong to be happy.

I know, I know how the saying goes:  "God doesn't want you to be happy.  He wants you to be Holy."  Upon dissection, at the point of the issue, I do agree.

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with being happy, and the case can be plentifully built from Christian scriptures* for cultivating joy and happiness within our daily lives.

Yes, God desires our sanctification.  Sanctification, or purification, often comes through difficulties.  These difficulties so often steal our joy; but there's no holiness in a lack of happiness.  Sometimes, we have extended difficulties and it becomes hard to believe that life will ever be any better.   I believe the human heart longs to have peace, and contentment, and yes, even happiness. 

Is it wrong to seek happiness?  If, by happiness, you mean a shallow, selfish, fleeting emotion, then - mostly yes.

If, by happiness, you mean purposefully seeking brightness, hope, healing, levity and relief from depression, then - no.  Seeking to be happy in one's daily life, even though we face difficulties, is an acceptable pursuit.

Some will read this and say, "Well, of course.  Does this even need to be said?"

I have been a Christian for a long time (imperfectly, and struggling, and growing, of course.)  I believe that I can legitimately say that it is okay for a Christian to pursue happiness.  Despite the saying, Jesus doesn't mind if you are happy.  Depression isn't good for anyone.

If you need that in "Christianese," call it "joy."

In this vein, here is a list of things you can do to have a better life - to seek and find happiness.  This is for my friends and readers who are struggling, who need a little "happy" nudge particularly this time of year. This is not my list.  I found it, unattributed, around the web, and I thought that perhaps someone might benefit from it.  I did.  My favorites are numbers 18 thru 25.

So, here you go.  You have my permission to be happy!  :)

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. Get more sleep.
4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to __________ today.’  (Think about it.  You'll find the right thing.)
5. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
6. Play more games and read more books than you did last year..

7. Make time to pray.
8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
11. Drink plenty of water.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk.
14. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, OR issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest what energy you do have in the positive present moment.
15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the negative blues away.
18. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
20. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
 21. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
23. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’
26. Forgive as you are able.
27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
28. Remember God heals everything.
29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
30. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
31. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
33. The best is yet to come.
34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
35. Do the right thing!

Do you have any to add?

*(I do take care to specify occasionally what Christians generally believe the Scriptures to say, because my friends and readers are not only from Christian backgrounds and I don't want to make assumptions.  God has blessed me with a global community of friends.  I am thrilled to have not only Christians read here from time to time.  I do not want to write for only Christians or frankly, for one demographic.  I'm thankful for the people I have contact with around the world.  What an amazing time we live in.)


  1. Oh, Holly, I love this post. You don't know how many times I have felt guilty for being happy about something or wanting to feel happy when I am depressed.
    Leigh Ann

  2. Praise God for indescribable joy. There are always going to be valleys and mountains on earth but I truly believe joy is something we can always contain! Good post! xxx

  3. Well, thank you! :)

    I was recently having an e-mail conversation with a long-time friend - we were talking about the pre-supposition of a "right" to happiness as being the root of disappointment. I still think that stands - I'm not all that vocal about "rights," as in, "I have a RIGHT to this so I will demand it of God." But to pursue happiness, or joy? Yes! :) I think God approves. (That's not to deny the reality of hard times or hard conditions - not at all. They will always be with us in one form or another.) There really are legitimate ways that we can seek to foster happiness in our lives. I do it. I enjoy it! :) It draws me closer to my Creator, causes me to be more thankful, to enjoy Him. It's good for our mental health, too, which is an important part of who we are.

  4. I just loved this, and needed it at this very moment! Thank you, Holly. My first thought was Psalm 1:1. How fitting that the first verse of the book that contains some of the deepest cries from the pits of the human heart is "Happy is the man..." :)
    You've helped make me happy tonight! ~Tina

  5. Awesome post Holly! Isn't it sad that so many Christians seem to think we're supposed to be sad or always on a bummer for some reason? At least, that's how it seemed to me growing up. "Woe is the Christian for all the persecution!" Like that.

    But God is a God of joy! Who do people think invented laughter and happiness? :)

    You asked if we would add anything to your wonderful list. I would only add; find something to be thankful for, every day, even if it's toilet paper. It really does help with the 'tude! :D

  6. I'm a little behind in my blog reading, but thank you for this wonderful post! Love the list and once our printer arrives (with all our household goods) in February, I'll be printing off this list and keeping it somewhere that I can remind myself regularly of these things.