This series is inspired by the book “The Law of Happiness” (Howard Books, 2011) by Dr. Henry Cloud, a Christian psychologist and counselor. Dr. Cloud’s book is a look at happiness from a Biblical/Christian perspective. I’m building on Dr. Cloud’s thoughts and want to give him proper credit.
Happiness Is A Choice
Happiness Is a Choice is the title of another best selling Christian book by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier. This is also the conclusion Dr. Cloud reaches in his book, that happiness is largely a choice we make. We think we will be happy if we get a different job, overcome a health issue, find a better place to live, get married, move to Arizona, get that degree, get one more gadget – I’m thinking Best Buy here. The reality is that there are people who have these things, and more, and are not happy. We’re “pushing the wrong buttons” Dr. Cloud says when we keep insisting that these externals will make us happy.
This world is fallen and broken and there’s much tragedy, so tears and sadness are often appropriate responses. However, much of day-to-day living, even though they’re far from perfect days, rob us of happiness that they don’t have to be allowed to do. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
True happiness, Dr. Cloud states, is much the same as the Old Testament concept of shalom, peace, which means to be whole, complete, and full as well as at peace. He writes that “we can be assured that the Creator has always been interested in our happiness and well-being. But further, He is also interested that we know how to find shalom: by investing our lives in the ways that he designed life to be lived.” (p. XIII) I think of the statement in Isaiah the prophet: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
We can best choose the road of happiness by choosing to walk with God and in His ways. It makes perfect sense: if the Lord created life, and our lives, then to choose to be near Him and to choose to live according to His plan is going to be the way to choose happiness.
Then there’s the simple fact that many times our state of happiness depends on little more than the attitude we care to adopt. We can be walking along a flooded street and have a passing car splash us and either respond in anger and frustration at the driver’s lack of consideration and our bad luck at being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or we can laugh at how funny the situation looks to a dry bystander!
In the following weeks we’ll look at a dozen or more ways Dr. Cloud suggests are ways of happiness. In the meantime, let’s use our God-given ability to choose happiness where, before, we were inclined not to.