If you didn't know this was a thing, don't feel bad. Neither did I. Until I read this: Today story
And I have a few thoughts. (As usual. Smile.)
My first thought: Happiness is a cheap imitation of joy. And it's fleeting. I've written about this before, here. and here. and probably several other times. I'm kind of a big fan of joy.
However. That doesn't mean I don't love being happy! And I want happiness! Who doesn't? It's just that I want JOY more. and in JOY I can find myself quite happy. :)
So with that being said, I think the list that Today put out of the ways to be happy is pretty good, actually. But I'd like to expand on a few of them.
1. Relationships are crucial. Yes and amen. I just had this amazing conversation the other day with some incredible women I am privileged to do life with - and the question was something along the lines of if God is supposed to be enough then where does community fit in. And the answer is that yes, God can be enough, but it's the fullness of JOY that can be found in relationship. We aren't meant to do this alone, and true depth of relationship is one of those things that isn't always happy, as true friends really can point out the yuck in us... but in that we can pursue freedom and joy and that is worth every breath and hug and word and prayer.
2. Be around happy people. Yes and amen. "If you want to make a sad person happy, start by planting them in a community of optimists." ~Donald Miller. We are truly a reflection of the people we spend our time with - good or bad. I've picked up a myriad of non-American phrases simply because I hang out with an international bunch. When I'm around people who want to pursue more of Jesus with every breath I find myself wanting the same thing. On the flip side, when I hang out with people who complain a lot or are constantly offended, I find the same things coming out of my mouth, or can be guilty of getting offended on their behalf as well. There are people in my life that spending time with causes me to want to be a better person; reach higher, further, deeper, and more fully into joy. Who we spend time with is critical.
3. Happiness can be genetically determined. meh. I tend towards the 'nurture' side versus 'nature' side of psychological development - in short, I think we blame too much on our genetics and don't take enough responsibility for ourselves. However, knowing that there is some basis in genetics is okay - it means we can recognize things in ourselves that we just need to work a little harder to change. This makes 1 and 2 so much more critical.
5. Money isn't everything,
6. Experiences are better than possessions,
7. Small things can make you happy. seems to go with 8. Things that will make you happy often don't. Small things do make me happy. Like a post-it note on my door from a friend. Or an encouraging word. Or when the croissants are still warm when I get to them. Or when just the right song comes on at the right time. Sometimes I think junk food will make me happy and it just makes me sick. But sometimes just the right bit of chocolate shared with a friend? Pure joy. And I really like the colored staples in my stapler.
9. Happiness increases with age. Yes... I am happier now than I once was, but even more important is that I am walking in a level of freedom and a depth of joy that I never realized was possible. I have found my species, my heart friends (see #1), and come to realize that all these things above are true. And that naturally does come with age.
10. Know yourself. I don't have a huge capacity for a giant social network. I'm not quite rational after 8pm and coffee is a requirement for daily life. I love good chocolate shared with a friend and running makes me a kinder person to be around. Knowing these things comes with age (see #9) and embracing them as reality instead of fighting against them is wisdom. I know I don't have a huge capacity for a large social life, but a more insecure me might try to fight against that and go out and be social all the time, and then wonder why I am a disaster.
This became a much longer, rambling post than I intended. So if you made it to the bottom, well done friend. Much love to all --Krissy