Do you like to watch the news? I want to know what’s happening in the world, but the majority of what I see and hear seems to be about murders, robberies and destruction –whether the real damage of fire or weather or the less visible tearing down of the character of public figures. It’s not exactly the stuff for which one can feel grateful or in which to discover happiness.
My question is how can we be happy in an unhappy world? It’s obvious we can’t individually change the world outside us, but we can do something about the world inside us. Here are some suggestions to try:
1. Learn to express appreciation.
My friend, the late George Starke, was a good example. He rarely greeted me without saying something positive or affirming. He’d learned that appreciation is the purest and strongest form of love. Appreciation is the outgoing love that enjoys giving everything possible but asks for nothing in return . I’m sure that he had cultivated that trait through the years, but it made him a happy person and enriched the lives of those around him.
During the month of November we are reminded of the blessings of our nation and invited by Presidential proclamation to set aside the fourth Thursday to give thanks to God. Find a way this year to express your appreciation for more than food and football. Take a moment to say how much you admire a member of your family or appreciate the things that are done for you. Especially steal a moment to offer thanks to God for ALL His goodness!
2. Let the past go.
I have shared the confidences of people for more than sixty years. Here’s what I’ve discovered: the single most damaging “baggage” many of us carry is some painful memory of the past. Memory can be a beautiful source of laughter and pleasure or an evil taskmaster whose relentless reminders rob us of joy. Like a drug from which we cannot free ourselves, the past is a horrible mistress. Jesus seemed almost heartless when he said,” Let the dead past bury itself.” But there’s the victory over the repetitive punishment of the past. Let it go! Let it die.
Will that stop all the pain of some tragic experience? No. But freedom is a choice. A grieving widow was nearing a state of major depression triggered by the loss of her husband. She was asked this question – “if you had died, what would you want your husband to be doing now?” Almost immediately she replied, “I would want him to be happy and have a full life.” Like a light bulb being turned on, it dawned on her– “that’s what I need to do!”
3. Lead with your Strengths.
How you think about your life is a determining factor of your present behavior. We think in words. Needless fault-finding and critical words which take up residence in the nest of your brain will eventually produce a crop of negativism. Practice using positive descriptions of yourself, affirmations that reflect your highest dreams! And use the same types of positive affirmations toward your spouse, your family, friends and associates. We all have the choice – horror stories of condemnation or healthy hopes which pull us toward our best.
Happiness is not the result of acquiring some external possession or position. It is the reflection of an inner satisfaction from truly knowing oneself and enjoying that. Happy or unhappy – the choice is ours! Happy people enjoy being thankful.