I’ll admit it. I’m a TOTAL SKEPTIC when it comes to happiness. I’m always convinced that any kind of happiness is basically just the opening act for terrible disaster or tragedy. The second my life starts to spark with some happiness, I begin to worry that the other shoe is about to drop and I brace myself for the fallout.
What is WRONG with me? Just typing that out I realize how CRAY it sounds!
But it’s true. This entire first year in the first house we’ve ever owned in 17 years of marriage (THIS HOUSE THAT I ADORE) I’ve felt that I can’t possibly be entitled to such happiness. I feel guilty about it. And I prepare myself for the inevitable impending doom headed my way to “balance things out” again.
I’m curious if you all struggle with the same thing? Like somehow happiness is a lesser goal for Christians and that we somehow aren’t entitled to something so seemingly sweet and frivolous.
But I have a friend who’s changing my mind. I don’t say that lightly.
Because my mind isn’t always easily changed. But this book that came out today — The Happiness Dare — is chipping away at my happiness skepticism and maybe you need it too?
I took the happiness quiz and my happiness style is: RELATOR. Which makes perfect sense because as I shared earlier this week I HATE DOING things/activities/planning but I LOVE hanging out with friends, talking for hours and catching up.
If you take the quiz too I’d love to know your happiness style. And if you’re a happiness cynic too?
CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE QUIZ AND DISCOVER YOUR HAPPINESS STYLE AND THEN LET ME KNOW IF YOU’RE A RECOVERING HAPPINESS SKEPTIC TOO:
And then keep reading today’s post from Jennifer Dukes Lee – one of my dearest friends, a farmer’s wife and a recovering happiness skeptic like me, who wrote the book: The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire.
Something wonderful happened to my daughter Lydia during seventh grade.
Lo, a more unbelievable sentence has never been written. Because there are two words that—when juxtaposed— strike fear in the hearts of people everywhere: junior high.
But stick with me here: Junior high has something important to teach us all about the art of happy living, the joy-killing ritual of comparison, and the way we’re uniquely wired by God to experience happiness in our lives.
In the interest of full disclosure, Lydia’s year started out rough.
Many cheerless nights, she and I lay beside each other on her bed, staring at the ceiling with our fingers laced behind our heads.
There were so many tears. Self-discovery is hard work.
Lydia saw what made her friends happy: sports. So she joined the basketball team. On nights before games, Lydia would pray for “just one basket.” This, we thought, would make her happy.
By the last game of the season, Lydia still hadn’t scored. Everyone on the team and on our side of the bleachers knew it.
By the fourth quarter, the coach put my girl in one final time, bless her heart. Lydia looked up into the stands. I gave her my thumbs-up and a smile that tried to say a hundred things at once: I love you! I believe in you! Your shoe’s untied! You will survive if you don’t make a basket!
Then it happened: With seconds left on the clock—swish— Lydia scored!
When she got home, I wrapped her up in a hug.
“Lydia!” I gushed. “I’m so happy for you!”
She shrugged. “Thanks, Mom. I guess.”
“What do you mean, ‘I guess’?” I clucked. “Weren’t you thrilled?”
“Yeah. But no. It was really nice, but . . .” Her voice trailed off. “It was actually embarrassing, Mom. Because everyone was so excited, and it was like a scene in a movie where the whole crowd feels sorry for one kid who finally makes a play. Basketball isn’t my thing. It makes my friends happy, but it doesn’t make me happy.”
In the months that followed, Lydia came alive when she discovered what really made her happy: music. Turns out, she was made for the band room, not the basketball court.
This is the truth about happiness: It begins in that moment when we look within and say, “I was not created to be her. I was created to be me.”
It happens when we stop wishing for someone else’s life and discover happiness in the one we have.
Lydia discovered this earlier than many of us, but what’s true in junior high is also true on cul-de-sacs, in church sanctuaries, and in the corporate high-rise where you work.
So much of our happiness is given away because we miss the inherent beauty of our own lives.
So much unhappiness is rooted in assuming that someone else is living the happy life we want. We start to calculate how much it will cost us to get there: how much hustle, how much earning, how many calories burned, how many promotions.
Comparison is robbing us of our happiness.
When really? When we stop comparing, and get on with living, that’s when we discover how the littlest things make us happiest – the things that make us feel warm and bright on the side, like we swallowed a star.
Happiness is the morning’s first cup of coffee. It’s the smile you get when you drop off a loaf of still-warm banana bread for your neighbor. It’s the sound of your friend’s laughter, and you realize she got the punch line before you even said it. It’s the anticipation you feel as you drive to your book club, wondering whether your friends made the same discoveries you did.
Happiness may be a night curled up on the couch with your husband, two hands touching in the popcorn bowl as you watch Shark Week. Maybe for you, happiness is a walk on a pier, at Huntington Beach, with a bunch of Jesus sisters — and you decide to practice your mad photobombing skills.
When our happiness increases in manifold, God-honoring ways, we are not being selfish or sinful. The happier we are, the more we are becoming like our Savior.
God wired us for happiness, not to make us heretics but to make us holy. It’s time to discover how God designed you, to uncover the places where greater happiness awaits you like unwrapped gifts from your Father.
Take the Happiness Style Assessment. In just five minutes, you can identity what truly makes you happy.
Jennifer Dukes Lee is an award-winning former news journalist, an (in)courage writer and a blogger at www.JenniferDukesLee.com. Jennifer once took a dare to find out whether happiness matters to God and, if so, how to pursue it in a way that pleases Him. Out of that quest, was born: The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire.