"Happiness Is: Freedom From Guilt"
The first and indispensable requisite of happiness is a clear conscience
“Thy Beatitude And Happiness Consist In Him”
Thou can't not be fully satisfied with any temporal good, because that was not created for the enjoyment of such things. Although thou shouldst have all created goods, yet this could not make the happy and blessed; but in God, Who created all things, thy beatitude and happiness consist.
"Choose Your Perspective"
Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them."
The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
"They Measure Themselves By Themselves"
Comparison, more than Reality, makes Men happy or wretched.
Live to shed joys on others. Thus best shall your own happiness be secured.
Henry Ward Beecher
"Wait For It"
A pleasure deferred is a pleasure intensified.
"Love What You Do. Do What You Love."
God wants you to serve Him passionately, not dutifully. People rarely excel at tasks they don’t enjoy doing or feel passionate about…When you are doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you or challenge you or check up on you. You do it for the sheer enjoyment. You don’t need rewards or applause or payment, because you love serving in this way. The opposite is also true: When you don’t have a heart for what you’re doing you are easily discouraged…The second characteristic of serving God from your heart is effectiveness. Whenever you do what God wired you to love to do, you get good at it. Passion drives perfection. In contrast, the highest achievers in any field are those who do it because of passion, not duty or profit.
"Light The Fire"
Unshared joy is an unlighted candle.
“His Mere Presence”
The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God which made David dance...something astonishingly robust, virile, and spontaneous; something we may regard with an innocent envy and may hope to be infected by as we read...These poets knew far less reason than we for loving God. They did not know that He offered them eternal joy; still less that He would die to win it for them. Yet they express a longing for Him, for His mere presence, which comes only to the best Christians or to Christians in their best moments...I have...called this the “appetite for God” [rather] than “the love of God”...It has all the cheerful spontaneity of a natural, even a physical, desire.”
"We Become What We Press Into"
All mortals tend to turn into the things they are pretending to be” (C.S. Lewis).
I would like to tweak that statement a bit and share my experience with you. I started rejoicing and praising the Lord some time ago, at first by force of will. But it has dawned on me lately that I am a joyful person nowadays. I do not think this is behaviorism or fakery. I suspect that what happens is that God meets you when you take steps to meet Him.
We know that we are commanded to rejoice in Him. By cajoling, by exhorting, by attracting, by precept, and by example, the Lord everywhere bids us to rejoice:
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble for me and it is safe for you” (Philippians 3:1).
When we set ourselves to do what He commands, the Lord blesses the effort by swapping our spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3).
Likewise, when we deliberately walk in holiness, we find ourselves becoming more holy. The unholy things lose their appeal, just naturally. Or rather, supernaturally. We become what we press into. That is why Scripture says:
“Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:26).
There is a mysterious dynamic here. In order to become what we are, we have to try it on and walk around in it, even if it feels unreal at first. No wonder God talks in terms of “putting on” righteousness and faith and love, etc. (Job 29:14; Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:11). We do not wait for the Spirit to put it on us; He has already given it to us to put on! God can give you faith, but he can’t have faith for you!
Teenaged David put on Saul’s armor and it didn’t fit. But the spiritual things that you and I must try to put on will fit us in short order if we keep them on and walk around in them and get acclimated. This is degree-by-degree transformation of the Saints spoken of in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
“And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
When I was putting on joy at the beginning, I was “beholding the glory of the Lord,” for Jesus also put on joy. And as I was beholding the glory of the Lord, I was being transformed into His image unawares. In the course of time, I realized that I was no longer the same person that I had been at the start of the journey. But it took me by surprise. It is like sitting at my computer and feeling cold, and turning up the thermostat and going back to the keyboard, and then noticing about a half hour later that I am warm. The warming was going on for a while before I started to be aware of it.
"The Chief Cause of Our Misery"
The chief cause of our misery is less the violence of our passions than the feebleness of our virtues.
"Mud Pies In A Slum Or A Holiday At The Sea?"
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
"The Commandments: Doorways To Joy"
Keeping covenant is increasingly a foreign concept in America. The closest we had to it was perhaps marriage. That was in the old days when “for better or for worst” meant it.
God has kept his covenant with me—mostly “for worst.” I alluded in an earlier blog post to my decades of highhanded rebellion. It is interesting to observe the way a God in covenant handles that kind of thing. One never gets off scot-free, in the sense of feeling no painful repercussions; they are exquisitely painful. But God is expert in weaving chastisement with blessing seamlessly. And then you minister out of your scars, and it’s all good.
I like the way my New King James Version phrases the last part of the verse: “who remember His commandments to do them.” It’s one thing to remember God’s commandments, another thing to actually do them. I think we’ve all got the “remember” part more or less down pat: Love your enemy; forgive 70 times seven, do not grumble, do not be anxious. And I have a bad feeling that some of us are going to be awfully surprised some day that we confused the “remembering” part with the “doing” part. As my brother Marc likes to say, “When all is said and done, more will have been said than done.”
Some of us late bloomers have also come to see that when we have actually tried to start seriously “doing” the commandments, they’re not bad at all. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant by His yoke being easy and his commands not burdensome. As a matter of fact, to begin to venture out into the virgin territory of moment-by-moment obedience is to soon discover that the commandments are doorways to joy. Yes, what we have been avoiding doing all our lives turns out to be the way to our own joy.
And then we reread the Psalmist’s exclamation, “Oh, how I love your law!” And suddenly we don’t think he’s a weird ancient Hebrew “enthusiast” anymore.
"Set A Worthy Goal"
If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.
“Happiness is the state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievements of one’s values.”
“Happy People Know”
Happy people know that...good enough is good enough. Happy people know they can be rich for life if they focus more on what they have than on what they want. Happy people know today is all we can be sure of, and they know how to make the most of it. Happy people never see a bad situation as pervasive or permanent, and they don’t take it personally...taking constructive action in spite of fear. Happy people know that happiness is not the act of building a trouble-free life but rather the art of responding well when trouble strikes. Happy people know that with each phase of life they give up something, but they also get something in return...you can “have it all”, just not all at the same time.
Dan Baker/Cathy Greenburg
"Enjoying The Better Things"
To really enjoy the better things in life, one must first have experienced the things they are better than.
"Happiness The By-product"
Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
"The Gateway To Happiness"
We will see that every word we spoke was eternally consequential, and none were neutral. We wielded them not only to the betterment or detriment of our hearers but for ourselves, our very words incrementally forming the persons we would become, rendering us either capable of greater victory or more susceptible to temptation. We will see that the little phrase we always skipped over in Philippians 4:6—“with thanksgiving”— was the ticket against depression and the gateway to happiness.
“Refreshments on The Journey”
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
Help me, O Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such a way that they may unite my heart more closely with you. Cause them to separate my affections from worldly things and inspire my soul with vigor in the pursuit of true happiness.
“New Horizons Ought To Be Appearing”
The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really leaning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening...It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow—and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them.
“Rich Poor Men, and Poor Rich Men”
Content makes poor men rich; Discontent makes rich men poor
"Happiness And The Art of Living"
The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change, for happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.
"Consumers Must Be Producers"
We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
George Bernard Shaw
"Who Is Rich?"
Who is rich? He that rejoices in his Portion.
"Here. Take My Self-Worth"
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
"Our Happiness Lies In Him"
Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We “have all we want” is a terrible saying when “all” does not include God. We find God an interruption. As St. Augustine says somewhere, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.” Or as a friend of mine said, “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.” Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as He leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call “our own life” remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make “our own life” less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness? It is just here, where God’s providence seems at first to be most cruel, that the Divine humility, the stooping down of the Highest, most deserves praise.
'Tis not the meat, but 'tis the appetite makes eating a delight
Sir John Suckling
"Brightness Yet Within Me"
All about me may be silence and darkness, yet within me, in the spirit, is music and brightness, and color flashes through all my thoughts.
“An Indispensable Part of Happiness
“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”
"Things Above. Not Slippery Happiness"
That is but a slippery Happiness with Fortune can give and take away.
My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness.
"Not For All The Olive Oil in Asher"
How do you like the fact that the Levites had no inheritance of land among the other 11 tribes (except for a few cities and their surrounding farmland)—because God was their inheritance?
“But to the tribe of Levi alone Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance” (Joshua 13:33).
Would that sit well with you if you were a Levite? Or would you feel cheated?
This is perhaps a question best discretely left hanging, for your private rumination.
Then again, it is actually the question we are each faced with many times a day: What would you prefer... to “find yourself in the world” to chart a course for a prestigious career? Or to give it all up to serve your husband—and hear a “well done, good and faithful servant” from God? Would you prefer getting an extra paid essay under your belt today? Or meeting that neighbor who needs to talk—plus a “well done, good and faithful servant” from God?
Or have you even gotten to the point where the choice of God is not a sacrifice? Have you gotten to the place where you have stepped into obedience enough times, and chosen the way of faith often enough, that you have learned a very cool secret—that the joy is immediate and the deepening intimacy with God is something you wouldn’t trade for all the olive oil in Asher?
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6).
"The Secret Motive of All We Endure"
How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.
“Steer Toward Joy”
...When a whole society is built upon self-preoccupation, its members become separated from one another, divided and alienated. And that is what has happened to us. We are down in the valley. The rot that we see in our politics is caused by a rot and are moral and cultural foundations. We spend our days shooting for a little burst of approval... It's as if we're all competing to get a little closer to a sun lamp. If we get up and live a different way we can bathe in real sunshine...Joy is a fuller and richer state beyond happiness. While happiness tends to be fickle and fleeting Joy can be fundamental and enduring. The more you are living a committed life well More joy will be your steady state. The frame of mind you carry around with you and shine on others. You will become a joyful person. So throughout this book and throughout life Joy is our North Star --- our navigating point. If we steer toward Joy we will wind up at the right spot.”
“The Optimist’s View of Negative Events”
In terms of our personal happiness, the most important way to safeguard our outlook is to control our interpretations about how positive we view the events of our lives. Remain hopeful and confident that things will work out well for you....View negative events ...as temporary, specific to one situation, and something [you] didn't necessarily cause but can handle or resolve. Optimists are more likely to see the world as it is and take action to address problems than pessimists are. Problems can be resolved. Be willing to take action….Set an intention and a relentless focus on living your life as the greatest person you can be in all situations... Purposefully acting as our highest selves”
Happiness is most often reported as a state in which we lost track of time and we're completely absorbed in something we enjoyed and had skills for but that also had new enough elements to change us.