One of the catchiest songs of 1988, was Bobby McFerrin’s, Don’t Worry Be Happy. It became so popular an entire generation became honorary psychologists. We’d see someone that appeared worried and we would race over to share with them these four life changing words, “Don’t worry be happy.” There is no denying that worrying has an impact on our ability to be happy. However, it takes more than a catchy tune to help us to stop worrying. Another issue is that worry is only one of the many reasons people struggle to find happiness. Look at the following stats.
The “Pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the Declaration of Independence. It also leaves open for each individual citizen to define their road to happiness. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2017, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts. 47,143 Americans died by suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Of these deaths, 77.97% were white males. The thought that a part of God’s creation lost all hope to the point of suicide or attempted suicide is heart-breaking and should compel all Christians to live a life of impact.
WebMD reports that antidepressant use has increased by 65% in 15 years. The CDC reports that women are twice as likely to use the drugs over their male counterparts. Based on the suicide rates above, it would appear women are more apt to get help, where men try to resolve emotional problems on their own. While these drugs are used to assist with various medical conditions, another common use is the treatment for feelings of depression and an inability to find happiness.
Not all of these stats are directly linked to happiness, but the case can be made that most of them are linked to happiness or the lack thereof. Another interesting stat is the number of authors that have become millionaires by writing books on how to find happiness. Walk into your local bookstore and you will discover more books on happiness than any one person can read in a lifetime. There is a genuine, natural desire for happiness. The reality is that many of these books come up short, because many of them fail to identify what’s at the true core of happiness.
The recommendations are endless. We are told to change our thoughts, change our perspectives, change our circumstances, change our realities and then we will find happiness. We buy the luxury car, the Rolex watch, the big house with the white picket fence, have kids and an amazing spouse, thinking this will bring us genuine happiness. These things certainly give the appearance, or may contribute to a great life, but they are not the core of genuine happiness.
What happens when we trust in things for our happiness? Our trust, at best, is already on shaky ground. You wake up one morning, the car is being repossessed, your house is in foreclosure, the watch is broken, your kids hate you and your spouse has asked you for a divorce. Sounds crazy right? Many people including Christians have gone through these things and worse. The truth is, life happens, and it happens whether we want it to or not. Some circumstances are beyond our power to control.
Another thing we link happiness to is our circumstances. Lasting happiness is not possible when it is centered around our circumstances. Too many things control the circumstances in our lives. Bank accounts, relationships, conversations, careers, grades, feelings and much more. When we define our happiness around our circumstances, genuine happiness appears to be nothing more than a distant dream.
Circumstantial happiness can be dangerous. For one thing, our circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. Think of it like riding a roller coaster. One minute, you’re having the time of your life and the next minute you’re scared to death. What happens if the roller coaster of circumstances controlling your happiness continues going down? Your happiness and emotions go with it. Eventually, you hit the bottom, thinking you’ll never be happy again. We’ve all been there. You make an A on an exam or get the promotion at work. Then suddenly you are at lunch in the middle of a breakup with the supposed love of your life.
Part of the problem is that you have been lied to most of your life. You’ve got the world, family, friends, even some churches telling you one thing or another about being happy and most of it’s not biblical. We’ve been conditioned to depend on people, possessions or circumstances to find happiness.
We give or receive advice that sounds like: Go after the job you want. If you love them go for it. You need to make six figures. You look important and powerful in that car. The list is exhaustive. I used to sell real estate. One day while I was in a beautiful neighborhood, I was sitting at a red light. I recall praying, “Lord, why can’t I have a house like this for my family.” Just as quickly in my spirit I felt the following. “It’s not the size of the house that makes it a home, it’s the people and their love for one another that makes it a home.” Talk about being punched between the eyes.
If we hope to help others find genuine happiness, we must first understand what it is and experience it for ourselves. We must remove the many lies we have been told about happiness.
In Matthew 16:19-24 Jesus Says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Our happiness can and should transcend earthly desires, circumstances and worldly possessions. This can be true in our lives if we shift our focus from the earthly to the heavenly. I have read or at least been aware of this passage of scripture for almost thirty-two years and it never made more sense than it did quite literally a few months ago. When I was selling real estate, God really blessed me. As a reward for myself for a great year and because I was tired of the way off the rack suits felt on my challenging body, I decided to get two custom suits. I was proud of these suits. When I would wear them, I’d be sure to show the label inside the jacket. It read, “Custom Made for Randy Hollingsworth.” I was proud of my earthly treasures. This was short lived.
Recently, I attended a funeral, looking good of course, when someone said, “What’s that on the arm of your jacket, a hole?” “What?” I exclaimed! “There better not be a hole.” Turns out it wasn’t a hole. It was about ten holes. My life was over, no more as the Nature Boy Ric Flair would say, “Styling and Profiling.” Turns out that both of my custom suits were the victim of a moth crime. My earthly treasures, destroyed. The old me would have seen my happiness in that moment gone with them. The old me was very materialistic.
Was I disappointed? Absolutely! My happiness wasn’t impacted though because my happiness wasn’t rooted in those two suits. When you are living rooted in His joy you understand things happen, things can be repaired or replaced. Life happens and it happens a lot of times beyond our control. Our prayer is that when it does happen it’s only the stuff that is impacted. Cars, homes, clothes and other material items can be repaired or replaced, people can’t.
So how should we, as Christians define happiness? Honestly, the dictionary struggles to define happiness in a way that makes it sound achievable. However, out of all the definitions of happiness, one clearly gives us a clue how to find genuine happiness, “A state of well-being and contentment, joy.” There it is, the one word that makes genuine happiness possible for all of us, joy. Real joy, however, is impossible apart from Christ.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
Honestly, not everyone will be able to buy a luxurious car or live in a great, big beautiful home. Many people will live paycheck-to-paycheck. And circumstances, we’ve all heard the phrase, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.” Joy levels the playing field because we all have access to it. Think about it this way. “Happiness with no roots will always be based on possessions or your circumstances.” Our happiness needs roots. Joy is the roots. We all have access to joy because we all have access to Christ.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
As Christians we are called, some would even say commanded in scripture to live a joyful life. One that sets us apart from this world. Many Christians have seemingly lost their joy and are living no different than the world. Therefore, the world is not seeing a life-example of genuine joy rooted in Christ. We are not of this world; therefore, our hope and joy are not found in this world.
“Let Israel be glad in his maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their king!” Psalms 149:2
“Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.” Psalms 149:5
“Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:23
When we look in the mirror and we see the real person. You know the person that was dead in our trespasses. The person that was pursuing the world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. A person caught up in the desires and passions of our flesh it is hard to be joyful in those things. But we are not commanded to be joyful because of who we are. We are brought to joy because of who He is and what He has done for us. He loved you too much to leave you there in your transgressions. When you look in the mirror, don’t look for who you were, look for who you are in Christ.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:5a
That’s why we are joyful, because of Him. Happiness rooted in Joy and joy rooted in Christ. Strong roots bring forth a healthy life. One that lives to make an impact for Him, the one that impacted us for all eternity.
“Correct Roots” are vital to happiness. Happiness established in the wrong roots is equivalent to happiness with no roots. Therefore, we are called to share in voice and in living the joy we have in Him. The deeper we grow in Him, the stronger our roots become, growing into something you never thought possible, genuine happiness.
Strong roots determine the heath of the tree and its branches. Just as a strong foundation determines the stability of the structure built upon it. If you are building a skyscraper, a house or simply planting a tree, the foundation is the most important part of the project. Your life is no different.
Jesus spoke to this truth. In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus says, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And then the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
If you wanted to plant some trees there are some key steps you need to follow if you want healthy, vibrant trees. I couldn’t help but to relate these tips to how we are to live and grow as Christians. I encourage you to do the same as you read this excerpt from the article. In an article published online at Houzz.com on April 28, 2017, writer Falon Mihalic gives us “5 Ways to Keep Your Trees Healthy.”
She also mentions hiring a professional to do the pruning until you are comfortable doing it yourself. If you are like me, you’re not a green thumb. You’d need to hire a professional to do it all, not just the pruning. We like the option of hiring professionals to do the work that we either loathe or we feel inexperienced to do. Therefore, we see a lot of service-based companies that do very well. They perform services we can’t or don’t want to invest time into completing.
However, your happiness is something you can’t outsource to someone or something to handle for you. In fact, a lot of people are depending on other people for their happiness and this unhealthy. You alone are responsible for you and your happiness. If you are blaming someone else for your unhappiness, stop! It’s not healthy and it will not resolve the problem, because it’s not the root of the problem. For many the problem is there are no real roots planted deep within the soil of joy. A joy found in knowing and serving Christ.
“But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!” Psalm 68:3
Christians are called to impact the lives of those around us, I call this ‘your world’. I may not be able to impact the entire world, but I can certainly do my part to impact my world. The battle for happiness is a real one. Over 1,400,000 attempted suicides are proof of this and that is just in the United States. Hopelessness is at an all-time high, because joy is at an all-time low.
One problem in the Christian community is we say things like, “I just want to be happy and left alone.” Christians are designed through a rebirth in the spirit for fellowship, not isolation. This mindset of wanting to be left alone also leads us to leave others alone. Is this really what we are called to do? Is it even possible for a joyful follower of Christ to remain silent about Christ? The world wants you to remain silent about your joy because it is rooted in Christ.
For too long, we have been more than willing to oblige. There is no better proof of this than all the government programs we have in place to assist those in need. In a world where God has called us to be His hands and His feet to those in need, we have outsourced it to a government unable to do the work it was purposed for in the first place.
First, we need to be concerned for the spiritual well-being of people and then their physical well-being. Somehow, we are falling short on faithfulness in teaching others how they can share in our Christ-centered happiness. We say that we love and care for others, but do our actions support it? What does faithfulness to those in need look like? How do we help others share in our happiness? These are all questions that will answered as you read through this book. We need to get back to happiness rooted in joyful service to Christ and others.
“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45
How do you start your journey to genuine happiness? Reading this book is a great start. On a serious note, by recognizing the foundation for Joy has at its very center, Christ. As a Christian you have been given an eternal navigational system that points you away from this world. You now have access to a peace that passes all understanding and a joy that will never fade away. Tap into it. Oh, and please don’t tell Wayne Watson that I tinkered with the lyrics to his hit song.
This is not our permanent home. We have an eternal destination far better than any human mind can conceive.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
I think it’s safe to say, “That if you are pursuing the world you will never find genuine happiness.” First, you are pursuing something that is passing away. Second, the world is never satisfied. It’s always desiring more.
For a moment let’s say there are two roads. On one road many are traveling, but not one person is satisfied. There always wanting and desiring more. In most cases they don’t care who they hurt to get it. On the other road few are traveling, but they are finding genuine happiness with each new step. They are fulfilled, they are helping those around them take the next step and they all have the same goal. This is because their happiness is rooted in joy and their joy is rooted in Christ.
Jesus Christ, the rock by which all worldly circumstances will be crushed. When you truly know whom you belong to, your joy will never waiver from the foundation of Christ. You may have bad days, but even so you will give God the glory. Only joy in Christ can respond this way.
Pursue a holy life, living to impact your world for His glory. For this, you have been purposed and with Him you will not fail. Your happiness should never be at the expense of God’s will, it should be because of His will.
Joel Osteen likes to say, “Live your best life now.” As Christians, we anxiously await the best life, eternal life. Personally, I think we are called to live our most impactful life now. Impactful for God, His glory and His kingdom.
As we bring this chapter to a close, I want to ask you a question. Are you happy? Are you genuinely, rooted in Christ, happy? Hopefully, you didn’t expect this chapter to magically transform you as you read it. The goal of this chapter was to reveal the core of genuine happiness. As you journey through the remaining chapters you will discover the biblical principles needed to live with genuine happiness.
Follower, Father, Entrepreneur and Cancer Survivor Impacted by the Grace of God Through Jesus Christ. Seeking to Live a Life of Impact.