STOP AND THINK - Happiness is to take up the struggle in the midst of the raging storm and not to pluck the lute in the moonlight or recite poetry among the blossoms. (Ding Ling, 20th century Chinese author)
Just as genuine love is not spooning by the lagoon under the moon in June, so real happiness is not simply enjoying the pleasant things of life. Love is actively working for others’ benefit. So happiness is to be found in actively working for good in the midst of opposition and struggles. Don’t give up when difficulties come. Work hard in spite of them and be happy.
The Apostle Paul, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
STOP AND THINK - We plan for happiness, but we’re formed by suffering. (David Brooks, cultural commentator)
Suffering and happiness don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. How can we suffer and, at the same time, be happy? The answer lies in thinking beyond the physical to the spiritual. For the most part, it’s not the joyful experiences of life that mold us, it’s the tough times, the struggles. We can be happy that trials have built our character, have made us what we are.
Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials . . . so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold . . . may result in praise, glory and honor. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
STOP AND THINK – Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. (Tim Timberlake, protestant pastor)
If happiness depended on living in a perfect environment, none of us would know what it is like to be happy. No one lives in a perfect family, community, or society. But we know a lot of happy people, don’t we? How can that be? Well, as Timberlake suggests, it means we have to overlook the imperfect, strive for the best we can, and be happy in the effort.
The Lord God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
STOP AND THINK – If man is not made for God, why is he happy only in God? (Blaise Pascal, 17th century French scientist and Christian philosopher)
We live in a society that has become more and more secular. Atheists and agnostics often take center stage these days, attracting more and more non-religious people or dissatisfied “believers.” When life becomes difficult, however, the stress of disappointment and failure causes many to seek something beyond themselves in order to achieve happiness.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. (Psalm 42:5)
STOP AND THINK - To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy—is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century American essayist)
If you’re not a morning person, perhaps this is the best way to begin your day. Emerson says, “To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” Wouldn’t you like to be able to do that—not to allow events and other people to set the tone for your day? Determine to be happy from the very start.
[God’s] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is [his] faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
STOP AND THINK - Love one another and you will be happy. It is as simple and as difficult as that (Michael Leunig, Australian cultural commentator)
Once again we are reminded that to experience real happiness we must be focused outside ourselves. But, as Leunig suggests, it isn’t always easy to think of others first. Some people are not very loveable, so it can be difficult to act toward them in caring ways. But that’s what love is all about. So, treat others well, and you can be happy.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
STOP AND THINK - We don’t laugh because we are happy—we’re happy because we laugh. (William James, 19th & 20th century American philosopher)
Laughter may very well be an accurate indication of someone’s state of mind. But James is turning common wisdom around. Surely, when we hear someone laughing, we can rightly assume that that person is happy. But, of course, that is not always true. It is true, however, that laughter does change our expression and, perhaps, our attitude. Laugh and be happy!
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. (Job 8:21)
STOP AND THINK - Genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness. (The Dalai Lama)
He went on to say, “For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others’ happiness.” The qualities he referred to are all directed outward. They can be shown only in relationship to others. It reminds us that we can’t really be happy if we are focused only on ourselves. We must be positively involved with others. They will be happy, and so will we!
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
STOP AND THINK - Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them. (Leo Tolstoy, 19th & 20th century Russian writer and philosopher)
So many people are looking outside themselves to find happiness. They try entertainment, look to other people or the accumulation of things—and most often are disappointed. Tolstoy doesn’t advise such people to look into themselves (which might be good advice), but that they should take another look at things. Our perspective certainly affects our view of things.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 4:25-26)
STOP AND THINK - Happy is he who learns from the misfortunes of others. (Aesops Fables)
Life’s adversities often cause depression and the temptation to give up. But if we can learn from others’ problems how to avoid those awful results, we can learn even more from our own misfortunes. They can be great opportunities for learning—learning how to handle stress, how to do better, how to avoid repeated disasters. Don’t give up, learn and grow.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (Psalm 119:71)