There have been so many things over the years that I was convinced would bring me true happiness. In high school, it was being part of the “in” crowd. In college, it was snagging that coveted internship and getting the byline on the newspaper’s front page. Post-graduation, it was that “real job,” the imaginary future fiancee on one knee with a diamond ring, the international travel I dreamed of…
I saw friends planning their weddings, others jetting off to serve in third-world countries, others still buying new cars and new houses, and my own life looked like nothing that. It all started to seem shallow and silly, and I started wondering if happiness should even be my goal. Should I be pursuing deeper, truer, and more admirable things than just the idea of happiness?
“This is the truth about happiness,” Jennifer Dukes Lee says. “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.”
I realized why none of those things truly made me happy when I took this quiz Jennifer Dukes Lee created for her new book The Happiness Dare. My happiness style is “Thinker” -- it’s the contemplative work of the mind that makes me deeply happy. Not the picture-perfect wedding, not the jet-setting adventures, not the number in my bank account. She explains that my motto in life as a “Thinker” is “My inquisitive, wandering, wild mind doesn’t make me weird; it makes me wonderful.”
How freeing to read those words and realize my strivings after happiness haven’t been for nothing. How encouraging it is to define the kind of things that do make me happy!
So often, we look at those around us and crave their happiness for ourselves, not realizing what it takes to make our own hearts come alive with that kind of life and joy. We become cynical of happiness in general, thinking it’s all too good to be true, or something bad must be on its way so things balance out again.
Lisa-Jo Baker admits she’s “a total skeptic when it comes to happiness.”
She asks a great question of all of us-- do we struggle with happiness too? Do we think “somehow happiness is a lesser goal for Christians and that we somehow aren’t entitled to something so seemingly sweet and frivolous” like she once felt?
For Baker, the same quiz was helpful in “chipping away at [her] happiness skepticism.” Her style is “Relator” -- and she says “it makes perfect sense.”
We’ve heard the saying time and time again: comparison is the thief of joy. We hear those words and it resonates in our hearts, because we are so aware of the ways we’ve looked to others and been overcome by our desire to have what they have, do what they do, be like they are.
“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,” Lee says.
Take this quick five minute quiz and see what your happiness style is. Are you a thinker like me? A relator like Lisa-Jo? Or are you one of the other types?
It’s not silly or shallow for us Christians to pursue happiness. It isn’t greedy to seek more of the things that bring our hearts joy and that make us come alive. I think instead it’s worship to God when we live our lives in ways that make us shine-- His own heart fills with joy to see ours radiate with happiness. When we take delight in the LORD like Psalm 37:4 says, he gives us the desires of our hearts.
“When our happiness increases in manifold, God-honoring ways, we are not being selfish or sinful,” says Lee. “The happier we are, the more we are becoming like our Savior.”
What a beautiful gift true happiness can be to ourselves and our God!
Let us know in the comments: What’s your happiness style?
What’s one thing you can do today to bring a little more happiness to your own heart and the hearts of others around you?
Publication date: August 11, 2016
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com