From looking at the tabloids one would think that having lots of fame and fortune along with great beauty would be the ticket to happiness. But when you look closely at those who adorn the magazine covers, most are not happy and are actually miserable. Then what is the secret?
Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his pregnant wife and parents in 1942. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his wife, had perished. But he had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who lived and those who died came down to one thing: meaning.
He wrote, “He who knows the why for his existence will be able to bear almost any how.”
Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, builds self-esteem, and decreases the changes of depression.
Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, about the meaningful life, said, “You use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.”
And that’s the beauty of following Christ. When we celebrated Easter this month we were saying, “Yes! Jesus is alive!” And so the next step is to live that truth in every part of our lives which will give us purpose and meaning.
When we put our best self forward to glorify the Lord in all we are and all we do, the joy and happiness follows. Here are some tips to help energize your attitude toward happiness.
1. Appreciate! Be thankful for everything for this is God’s will for you. When we concentrate on being thankful, our eyes focus on God and not our problems.
2. Pay attention to nature. Go outside more; smell the roses; watch the sun come up and go down; listen to the birds. Just seeing the squirrels chasing nuts will make anyone smile!
3. Dance! Yes, just put on some music and dance through the house. Movement along with music can really change how we feel. Of course, exercise is great too but I think dancing to great music leads more to happiness!
4. Experience. From the author of Happy Money, “Experiences, especially those shared with others, make you feel more connected.”
5. Photos. Look through your photo books or those on your computer. I know when I see my daughters I light up.
6. Smile. Doing so stimulates smiles muscles and sends nerve signals to your brain that you’re happy, says Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of The Sweet Spot. Remember the scene in Mary Poppins when they are all laughing up in the ceiling? Just thinking of that scene makes me laugh!
7. Kiss and hug. Yes, physical touch really can make a difference to our lives. If you live alone, get massages or a pet which can really help.
8. Do for others. Of course we know that the Bible tells us to do this but that’s because God knows it can change your life.
9. Breathe. I’ve mentioned this before but it really, really works. Breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for one and exhale through your mouth for five to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
10. Make your bed! Did you know that doing even one thing to enhance your sense of order is calming. And when you start to add these up they will bring you a sense of happiness.
11. Friends and family. Having those in our lives that we can do for and share our lives with will bring great happiness.
12. Forgiveness. When we forgive others, we will kill any bitterness that is trying to take root in her heart. No matter what others have done to you, forgive them just as God has forgiven you. This may be the most important way to have happiness in your life.
13. Time alone. Having time to be quiet; to have time to think your thoughts; to have time to be creative; can build happiness. Unplug from everything at night.
14. Live for God. Our purpose and meaning in the life God gave us is to live for Him and to do His will. What a blessing that we know Him!
Manna from Heaven
“But happy is he who is gracious to the poor.” Proverbs 14:21
“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:2-3