new economy

A while back I gave a guy something he needed in his home. I think I was as blown away by his reaction as he was by getting it. He tried to pay me what he could and kept saying said he owed me. I assured him he owed me nothing and need not pay me back, it was a gift, no strings attached (no he didn’t need to listen to me preach before he could leave either).

So there’s the economy we carry from material world to every other part of our lives. We think that everything comes at a price. Trust me I’m just getting used to this myself. It’s kind of the “love without condition” carried further. If by doing something for you, I expect (even eventually) something in return, maybe it’s just your friendship, or admiration, then I’m not doing it for you at all, I’m just bartering for something for myself.

I think giving is easier with strangers, maybe people you will never see again, do a random act of kindness and walk away, never expecting to see them again, and they can never pay you back. It seems a lot harder among acquaintances, maybe hardest in relationships. We’ve been raised in this “point” system; I help you with your car, later when my computer dies you help me.

In relationships, try to remember the beginning, think back to when just being with that person was the goal, didn’t matter what you were doing, just being around them was enough. Let a relationship last long enough and we tend to put it to the “point system” more and more it becomes what we’ve done for the other or what we can do, or vise versa “what have you done for me lately” or “look at all I do for you and what do I get in return?” well if you’re looking for something in return you weren’t really doing it for the other person were you?. As our relationships with God are compared to a marriage I think we tend to go down the same path, we forget where our faith began, when just knowing he was there was enough.

I’m not throwing out acts of love or intentionality that come naturally through love. But if you buy your wife flowers on valentines merely BECAUSE it’s Valentines Day, it is in your heart, an empty gesture, really, just acting out of obedience or obligation. The same can apply to our faith lives.

So now I get to the point where I may be wrong. But… we are told to go out and spread the Gospel… Gospel means “good news” I’m pretty sure the good news isn’t “well Christ died on the cross now you should feel guilty and not do anything wrong and make sure you read your bible 5 times a day and here’s a check list of do’s and don’ts”.. I’m pretty sure the Good news is the price is paid, “it is finished” not “hey, now the ledger shows you in the red so you owe me”.

How to Find Happiness – Setting Goals

Key #10 to Happiness – Setting Goals

There are many reasons to set goals.  People who set clear goals not only experience more success in their lives, but they are usually also happier and less stressed.

We can all look at our past and analyze different stages of our lives and see that we’ve been happier when we have had something to look forward to…and that is what having dreams, setting goals and visualizing them is all about.  Goals are nothing more than dreams with a deadline.

But what about people who don’t have a clear passion or direction for their lives – no goals?  Should they just pick something arbitrarily?  If this describe you, don’t worry.  Keep reading!  There is a special section for you half way through this lesson.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on goal setting and success:

“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.” -  Cecil B. De Mille

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”  – Henry Ford

“Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” - C. S. Lewis

“Give yourself the freedom to explore the possibility of life without limits. Goals are dreams with deadlines, a means to an end but not the ultimate purpose of life.” – Glynis Nunn

Here is what the Bible says about fulfilling your purpose in life, goal setting and success:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”.  Proverbs 29:18

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.  Phil 3:14

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”   Josh 1:8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  Matt 7:7-8

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”  Psalms 1:2-3

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–From whence comes my help?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth”.  Psalms 121:1-2

Goals give us focus.  This is especially important when we’re depressed or down on ourselves.  At those times, we need to take our focus off the current situation and focus or re-focus on the overall goals and dreams… or maybe set some new goals.  Setting goals is a lifelong process that needs to be renewed and reviewed all the time…at least once every few months.

But what about people who don’t think they have any goals?

Rest assured, God has put purpose and goals in every one of His masterpieces (humans that is, and that means you too).  If you don’t think you have any goals, ask God to let the ones He’s put in your heart and spirit to bubble up to the forefront of your mind.  Some people have never allowed themselves to know what they want.  If this is you, just ask God to help you in this area.  It’s His greatest joy to watch you become everything He planned for you!

People who think they have no goals are usually comparing themselves to others who are exceptionally ambitious and verbal about strong personal achievement goals.  You know who I’m talking about – they are the ones who talk about being the president of a Fortune 500 company by the time they’re 40, a huge music or movie star, or the biggest contractor in the city by age 35!  Of course some of these people will achieve these goals, and that’s great.  Don’t forget however, the most important goal of all should be to hear those cherished words, “Well done good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, now I will make you ruler over many” by Jesus Himself when He welcomes you into the Kingdom for all eternity!  So, let the driven people be who they were meant to be – you get to be the person God made you to be!  He has more good thoughts about you than there are grains of sand on all the seas of the world – and all these thoughts include great plans (and goals) for you. (Psalms 139:17 & Jer 29:11)


Goal setting is important for all areas of our lives.

    • Spiritual Goals (like being more like Jesus)
    • Family Goals (like being a better spouse or a better father)
    • Health Goals (like losing 20 lbs.)
    • Business Goals (like increase sales)
    • Financial Goals (like becoming debt free)
    • Social Goals (like making some new friends)
    • Charity Goals (like giving more)
    • Other Important Goals (like having more balance)

Correct Goal Setting Process:

Identify an overall goal or dream (let’s say that you would like to be healthier)

    • Break the goal down into specific goals (like losing 24 lbs.)
    • Set a deadline (like…lose 24 lbs. in 6 months)
    • Break it down into monthly and weekly goals (4 lbs. per month or 1 lb. per week)
    • Determine daily tasks (not eating desert or minimizing your calorie intake or running 3 times per week for 1 mile to achieve your goals).

Keys to happiness exercise:

    • Ask God for help (ask Jesus into your life if you have not done so already) Email me if you’d like more direction. info@successandfailure.net
    • Take some time on finding a meaningful why and set long term goals – They can’t be someone else’s goals…they have to be your own.
    • Set realistic goals – It’s the difference between successfully reaching your goals and setting yourself up for failure.  Let’s say that you wanted to lose 24 lbs.  If you have not run for 20 years, it would be foolish to set an action plan to run 10 miles per day.  It’s better to be more conservative and increase your activity as you get a feel what you can realistically do.
    • Be consistent with your activity – 90% of success is just showing up. Don’t underestimate this part.  Better to commit to less and be consistent than to commit to too much and then quit soon after you start.
    • Visualize your why and goals at least once each week
    • Look at your goals and action plan several times per week and adjust it if necessary
    • Hint – if you’re unable to perform your daily and weekly tasks or start making excuses – spend more time on your why (you’re probably having trouble because it’s not real to you – most likely from someone else such as an overbearing parent, teacher or other influential person in your life – ask God to help you hear Him alone)

For additional info on goal setting see our Goal Setting Webinar.

Previous Happiness Lessons:

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being thankful

How to find Happiness - Key #3 – Forgive yourself

How to find Happiness - Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

How to find Happiness - Key #6 – Overcoming fear

How to find Happiness - Key #7 – Giving of your money

How to find Happiness - Key #8 – Giving of your time

How to find Happiness - Key #9 – Putting God first

Check in next week for another key to happiness.  Get notified via e-mail

How to find Happiness – Putting God First

Key #9 to Happiness – Putting God First

We all have priorities in life.  When it comes to happiness people all have different goals, needs, hopes and desires.  What makes one person happy may not even come close to satisfying another.  Whatever is most important to us will always come first in our lives.  That which we love the most will always be our highest priority.  The things and people that bring us joy and happiness will always get the most of our time and attention.   So, the question is this, what matters most to you?  What is the first priority of your life? Is it your family, children, career, money, material things?  Is it achieving fame or status?  Maybe your appearance is most important to you?   First identify what you are actually putting first in your life.  Discover why it so important to put God first and what happens when other things and people come before God.  Lastly learn specific ways to put God first and help you begin to put God first in your life right away.

Lamentations 3:40 (New International Version)

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

Psalm 26:2 (New International Version)

Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

Identifying what you really put first in your life:

Learning what your true priorities are in life is really pretty simple to do.  Start by asking yourself this, “what do I spend my time, energy and effort on most?”  If you have to, grab a piece of paper and pen and roughly write out a list of what you generally do each day, from start to finish, first thing in the morning to bedtime.   Can you recognize any patterns or things of special interest? Whatever you devote most of your time, money, energy, and efforts to is what you are putting first in your life.  God knows the truth and He knows your heart.  He knows what means the most to you and where you’re true devotion lies.

Deuteronomy 6:5 (New International Version)

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Jeremiah 17:10 (New International Version)

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

Do not worry God is so full of love.  God is faithful to forgive us.

1 John 1:9 (New International Version)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Putting God first is important for obtaining happiness:

Putting God first is extremely important for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that it does produce happiness in our lives.  The reason we should put God first is because of our love for Him.  We should find happiness and joy in putting God first.  Happiness is not the reason or the motive it is the reward, it is the harvest, and it is the blessing.  How exciting and wonderful this is.  Our reward for making God our first priority is happiness and joy and blessings.

Psalm 37:4 (New International Version)

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

If you delight in the Lord he will give you the desires of your heart.  There is true happiness in delighting in the Lord.

Psalm 35:9 (New International Version)

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation

Psalm 65:4

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You choose and cause to come near, that he may dwell in Your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.

Psalm 112:1 (Amplified Bible)

PRAISE THE Lord! (Hallelujah!) Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who fears (reveres and worships) the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.

Matthew 6:32-34 (Amplified Bible)

For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all.  But seek ([a]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([b]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [c]taken together will be given you besides. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

Putting God first is more than a goal to keep in mind.  Putting God first is the main ingredient to happiness. Without God being first in your life the recipe for happiness will not ever come out right. No matter how hard you try, you can not make yourself happy and other people (all in themselves) can not make you happy either. It also makes sense that no inanimate thing can bring happiness either. Only God can give us an abundant and fruitful life.

The outcome of failing to put God first in our lives:

When we fail to put God first we fail miserably.  We do not reach happiness.  We then turn to other things and try to replace the missing ingredient in our lives.  We turn to habits, addictions, we try to fill our time and entertain our minds and we seek alternate means of pleasure.  We discover that nothing else could ever be enough.  It is like trying to bake a cake without flour.  It is like a turkey sandwich without turkey.  It could never satisfy because it is missing the main ingredient!

God wants for us to seek Him first and to delight in Him.  He wants to be the one to give us happiness, joy and abounding blessings!  When we try to please ourselves or seek out happiness on our own apart from God, not only do fail to find it, we also slip farther and farther away from Him and our only real hope of happiness. We end up angry, sad, depressed and feeling unloved and unaccepted.

Cain is not a favorite of most people.  He is known and remembered for killing his brother Abel out of cold blood.  We can actually learn a lot from the story.  Take a moment and read it.

Genesis 4

AND ADAM knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain; and she said, I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord.  And [next] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground.  And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed.  And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

Cain felt dejected, and when God did not respect or accept his offering it made him exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed.  This is the same outcome for us when we fail to put God first.  We end up allowing sin to master us and we achieve the exact opposite of happiness.

Specific ways to put God first in your life:

In looking at the story of Cain again we read that God saw how Cain was behaving, and He noticed how Cain was feeling.  He came to Him in love much the way any loving parent would go to their child.  He asked Cain why he was feeling that way, even though He all ready knew the answer. He questioned Cain saying, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?”  He also explained that if he didn’t do well he was only opening himself up to trouble.  Sin is there waiting at our door, it desires us but we must master it through Christ Jesus.

Here are some specific things we can do to put God first, but be creative, and find new ways to show God you love Him and you are so happy and full of joy because of Him.  The basic idea is to put Gods will above your own.  If you really want to you can think of endless ways to demonstrate how much God really means to you.

Keys to happiness exercise:

  1. Read the Word of God and desire to do well and follow God’s commands.  Find happiness and joy and take delight in God.
  2. Begin each day in devotion to God.  In prayer, study, and praise.  Offer God your first time.  It is a very special time of day to seek God and pray.  We are rested and alert and blessed to have a new day.
  3. Offer thanks to God for your food and drink and give God of your first fruits.  Be sure to give to God and toward the Kingdom of God. Give as Abel gave.  Give God of your first and best.  Give with a glad heart and offer up your praises to God too.
  4. Trust God to provide your heart’s desires and all of your needs.  God promises that if we seek the kingdom of God first that God will make sure to provide all we need.
  5. Seek God first in all aspects of your life.  Seek God first in regard to relationships, finances, dreams, hopes and desires, in your career and in every part of your life.
  6. Attend Church (if you don’t all ready)
  7. Begin a spiritual journal devoted to bible study and prayer.

In conclusion, God loves you and wants you to be happy.  God wants to provide you with all you need and even your heart’s desire.  God has proved His great love to us by giving His only Begotten Son so that our sins might be forgiven and so that we can have life everlasting in Christ Jesus.  He gave His ALL for all of us.  Jesus gave His all.  He willingly and lovingly gave His life on the cross as a perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sins.  There is no greater love than the love of God.  His love, His salvation, His happiness and joy are all gifts from God to you.  All you have to do is believe it, accept it, confess it and live it.   Begin to put God first right now and begin to live life more abundantly!

John 3:16 (New International Version)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 6:47 (New International Version)

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.

John 10:10 (New International Version)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Previous Happiness Lessons:

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness - Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

How to find Happiness - Key #6 – Overcoming fear

How to find Happiness - Key #7 – Giving of your money

How to find Happiness - Key #8 – Giving of your time

May you find happiness through giving of yourself!  Check in next week for another key to happiness.  Get notified via e-mail

How to find Happiness – Giving of your time

Key #8 to Happiness – Giving of your time.

Personally, it’s easier for me to give of my money than my time.  As a busy person, and who isn’t?  When I get home from work or fantasize about a restful weekend, the last thing I want to do is pile on additional obligations that might compromise my well-deserved R&R.  Now of course, a good balance of work, play and rest is an important part of life.

Giving of your time as a volunteer:

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by thinking that our measly efforts can’t really make a big impact.  We see the immensity of the need in the world and the pitiful smallness of our own contribution, and end up wondering if I have the ability to make any difference at all.  I remember when I got involved with a local homeless shelter that had 100 beds.  I thought, wow – 100 beds!  This is a huge operation!  It sounded like we were helping a significant number of desperately needy people.  But then I heard that there were over 15,000 homeless people within that same valley.  I couldn’t believe it!  The percentage we were helping was pathetically small compared to the magnitude of the need.  I mentioned this to the shelter’s director and he said, “Yes, but as small as our efforts are, they make a huge difference to the 100 people who we daily feed and provide food and safe shelter for their families.”

It never fails.  When I try to bless people by helping out, I inevitably find myself blessed more than those I am supposedly helping.   But wait – are their needs real or am I just making them up so I can jump in and feel like a hero?  No, some peoples’ situations are desperate and they really do need help.  But the depth of humility and satisfaction that God blesses me with exceeds the degree of my contribution by so far that I often wonder – who is really ministering to whom?

Being able to participate in the delivery of real basic needs to truly needy people gives you a sense of gratitude, happiness and thanksgiving for all the blessings in your life.  I promise you, by getting involved, you will develop a passion for the needy.

You don’t have to work with the homeless to be a volunteer.   There are many worthwhile causes and organizations that serve the community…and they all need your help.  Look for an organization you can believe in and figure out a way to serve.  You will be blessed…guaranteed!

Look for a local ministry first.  Here is a great website that lists additional organizations.  http://www.charitynavigator.org/

Here is what the Bible has to say about serving others:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:31

And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.  Mark 12:33

I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help. Isa. 58:7

Volunteering at your church is another way to serve.  There is always something you can help with.   What’s also great is that you have the chance to serve every week or just for one event.  Get involved.  Going to church is not a spectator sport.

So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all
the others. Rom. 12:5

Spend time with extended family and friends:

When we’re young we want to get away from family as much as possible.  The older we get, however, the more we realize that we have only one family and good friends are hard to come by.  If you’ve ever lost a loved one unexpectedly, you know that every minute you spend with family and friends is precious.

Good friendships take effort.  Be sure to set time aside to call or to meet with the people you care about.  Humans are not designed to be solitary creatures.  We are designed to have fellowship with one another.  We’re happiest when we’re with other people. It’s by design.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Rom. 12:10a

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.  Remember the prisoners as if chained with them–those who are mistreated–since you yourselves are in the body also.  Hebrews 13:1-3

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Gen 2:18

Giving quality time to your family:

Spending time, especially quality time with your family (your spouse and kids) is even more important than spending time with your extended family and friends.  We tend to take the closest people to us…our spouses and kids for granted.  We see them every day so we think that counts as quality time.  Well, maybe so – maybe not.  Be honest.

Quality time is different than just being in the same house at the same time.   Spending quality time with our families takes time and focus and can be a sacrifice sometime.  It’s putting our priorities aside to spend time with the other person (s).  I’m sure guilty of that at times.  I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I totally ignore my wife sometime.  Even doing something for God can be wrong if it gets out of hand.  Especially with our busy lifestyles nowadays, I recommend having designated days and nights that you set aside every week to spend time with your spouse.  Balance is key!  You will be amazed that overall you will be a happier person when you make yourself available…and you’ll have a better marriage.

Writing this, I realize I’ll have to remember my own advice…or my wife will remind me about this article and maybe even send me a link, so I’m sure to remember to take my own advice.

If you have kids, you don’t have a life…it all about them.  In that situation, don’t ignore your spouse.  Set time aside to do something together without the kids around.

Spending quality time with God:

I left the most important key for last.  Can you know God without spending quality time with Him by reading the Word, praying and seeking His face…not just His hand?   I don’t think so.

Think of people we meet when walking our dogs, neighbors, acquaintances, extended family, etc.  How well do you know them really?  Just think of how much time we have to spend with someone before we intimately know them.  It’s no different with God.  We are delusional if we think that we know God if we’re not spending time with Him on a regular basis (preferably daily)…doing our best to get to know Him.  It’s not enough to go to church on Sunday and then forget about Him the rest of the week.

Getting to know God is NOT just asking Him to fix our problems.  We don’t really get to know God by doing that.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for God to help us…we should.  What I’m saying is that we need to seek God.  We need to pray that God would reveal Himself to us…by inviting Him not just into our situation and problems but also into our plans…by surrendering our habits…by reading the Bible…by being with other Christians…by making ourselves available to be used by Him.

Read Galatians 2:20 below again…let it sink in.  Our lives are supposed to be a sacrifice.  Frankly, we all are so far away from being that true sacrifice…may God help us all.  The more time we spend with God, the more we tend to realize what sinners we really are our ongoing need for Jesus.   It’s a process of pruning by God.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Success in life is about setting the right priorities…spending time with God should be #1 on our schedule, before anything else, even our own families.  GOD – FAMILY – JOB.  God promises that if we put Him first, He will take care of everything else.  Do your absolute best to not have a day go by when you don’t spend time with Him.  If you do, you will discover a whole new level of happiness – called joy…no matter what situation you’re facing.

Here are some Bible scriptures.

The Lord deserves praise! Day after day he carries our burden, the God who delivers us. Proverbs 8:34

Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.  Acts 17:11

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.  Mark 1:35

So that you incline your ear to wise and apply your heart to understanding; Prov 2:2

For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.  Prov 4:2

Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge;  Prov 22:17

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Heb 4:16

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  James 4:8

Keys to happiness exercise:

  • Ask God for help (ask Jesus into your life if you have not done so already)
  • Schedule your times with God, family, friends and organizations
  • Pray to God to give you a desire to know him and serve
  • Ask someone to pray with and for you.
  • Pray for others in need.

Previous Happiness Lessons:

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness - Key #3 – Learning How to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness - Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

How to find Happiness - Key #6 – Overcoming fear

How to find Happiness - Key #7 – Giving of your money

May you find happiness through giving of yourself!

Check in next week for another key to happiness.  Get notified via e-mail here.

How To Find Happiness – Conquering your fears

Key #5 to Happiness – Living without fear.

One thing among many that I hated prior to knowing Jesus Christ and the love of the Father intimately was some Christian spouting off “Christianese” at me. It was like a sugar-coated secret language that I could only learn after I gave up everything I had, everything I loved and I got ready to wear sack cloth and ashes. Not a very inviting prospective.

So, in order to not be one of those “people”, let me start this article with various things I found that were not in the bible.

I decided to search on my own via the vast search engines available to us for the things I would be talking about in this article. Happiness…joy….fear. Wow! Who knew how often these questions/words/solutions were addressed!  I couldn’t list them all. Here are a few:

Happiness: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss 3 : a source or cause of delight

And….

“One way to understand the difference between joy and happiness is to look at the opposites of the two feelings. The opposite of joy is fear while the opposite of happiness is unhappiness and misery.” Diffen.com

I liked this. The opposite of joy was fear. OK. What else? Again, the search reference for the word “fear” was endless. One definition of “fear” that I felt said it all:
F–FALSE
E–EVIDENCE
A–APPEARING
R—REAL

Then there were the unlimited famous/infamous quotations which I shrunk down to this small list:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which

paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  FDR – First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.” Lt. John B. Putnam Jr. (1921-1944)

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.” H.P. Lovecraft
“The greatest obstacle to love is fear. It has been the source of all defects in human behavior throughout the ages.” Mahmoud Mohammed Taha

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” German Proverb

I have German ancestors. None of them bothered to share that last one with me. I don’t think anyone bothered to share it with them either. On the contrary, all my ancestral roots (not limited to the Germanic only) learned to rule and dominate others with fear. It was a successful maneuver in many ways because it got people to do, or not to do, whatever they wanted. The bad news…it kept many from achieving all they could possibly be or were designed to be by Almighty God. Call it fear of failure, fear of success, fear of confrontation, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, etc. It was still the same four letter word causing the same havoc and destruction of joy or happiness. FEAR!

This can be taught, learned, experienced or generational. It matters not from whence it came. It is a killer of life. It is a killer of dreams. It is a killer of others…either in their spirit or in their body.

I wanted to know how to stop this paralyzing and destructive force in my life. I wanted to have a better life. I tried everything from meditation to other forms of “religious and mind-empowering practices.” None of them worked. Some cost money. Most were not freely given. When all else failed I learned about something I hadn’t tried yet.

“But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [ through Who He is].” John 20:31

The Lord promises a free gift…His gift of love. The gift of Jesus. Someone who really thinks you’re important and really cares. It’s like having a great big daddy Who is always standing guard at all times so I can rest and not worry…and be happy:

“But [even] the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many [flocks] of sparrows.” Luke 12:7

If you’ve never experienced this love, you’re missing one of the first tools to overcoming this four letter word (FEAR) and all its deadly entanglements. He promised us that “Perfect love gets rid of fear” and the name of Jesus is the embodiment of that perfect love demonstrated on this earth. It’s a name that He encouraged us to call out  – JESUS. The name that every/all powers must bow their knee to… JESUS! This was the name…the word… I learned to use early on with my walk through my personal battles.

You see, some of it this freedom walk was not easy for me and is not easy for most. The gift to start on the journey was/is free. But, like any good workout and muscle building program, you (we) have to do some of the work. Many times I wished that the trainer would do the exercises, magically touch my body and I’d be fifty pounds lighter and able to do things I did when I was twenty!  But alas, this is not possible. I have and had to do the work.

The reward was great as I strengthened my faith muscles and started to chip away at all the fear-based ideology that had been imbedded in me. I now look at “stuff” that is taking away my peace, my happiness and ask the Lord what the cause may be. One of the main questions that I usually ask is… ”What am I afraid of?”

If you find yourself battling this four letter word…start with His free gift. If you haven’t invited Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior…give HIM a try. This Web site has tools on how to do this. It won’t cost you a thing. It’s between you and Him. He’s not like a lot of people who beat you over the head to get you to do something. No…it’s just the opposite. He stands at the door to your heart, knocks and then waits for an invitation to come in. He’s not pushy or punitive. He doesn’t want you to be afraid of Him. He’ll wait until you say “yes.” He won’t judge. He’ll wait until your “yes.”

Will happiness come immediately? I don’t know. Each and every experience is different. Like our fingerprints, no two people are alike. But I can guarantee one thing. You will never be alone again. You will always have the name of a Friend who you can on call at any time. JESUS. Once you mention His name…all hell runs away. They don’t like to be reminded of the ONE who is really in charge, who is really love and who will never leave us or forsake us.

Try studying these one day at a time for seven days. Have hope, have happiness and become fearless!

Day #1

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me. Psalm 118:6

Day #2

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27

Day #3
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing son-ship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father! Romans 8:15

Day #4

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). Ephesians 3:12

Day #5

And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God. Philippians 1:28

Day #6

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

Day #7

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:6

Previous Happiness Lessons:

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness – Key #3 – Learning How to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness – Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

May you find true happiness and may God answer your prayers – Amen!

How To Find Happiness – Living in the present

Key #5 to Happiness – Living in the present

“Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.
That’s why we call it the present.”  ~Babatunde Olatunji

At first glance, you might ask – what does living in the present have to do with happiness?  What’s so great about the present?  What does it even mean to live in the present?   It means that we are focused on what we are experiencing, thinking and/or feeling right now…and not caught up in the fantasies about the future or burdened down with memories of the past.

“Be here now” was a popular phrase in the hippy days which was captured well in many books and songs.  Like all things, however, embracing this concept can lead a person either positively or negatively…into deep irresponsibility and narcissism, or into the discipline of total reliance upon God for every need on a moment to moment basis.

Living in the “now” with Jesus is the epitome of joy, peace, wisdom, power and destiny.

But how do you get there?  Well, first, let’s explore not living in the present.

Living in the past = Regret

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

I must admit that I too relive the past sometimes.   Like most of us, when I find myself in the past, I am usually reliving a mistake or a negative situation, which then makes me feel badly about myself.  Oh, I have personal ones too, but when I am stuck in the past it usually has to do with work.  Have you ever had an important meeting and you blew it?  I have.  For days I can beat myself up over it replaying the scene over and over in my mind, wishing I could have a “do over.”   Sometimes even years later, I can find myself feeling sick about a particular meeting that went south.

I can only imagine the torment people experience who have made a mistake that caused serious injury or even someone’s life.  One such situation happened recently with one of my relatives. 
Frankly, I don’t know how one gets over something like that, except by God’s grace.  (check out our article from a few weeks ago “Learning How to forgive yourself”)

God promises to give the Holy Spirit liberally to everyone who asks for Him.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more

will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

He also said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John. 14:14

What does “anything” include?  Hmmnn…  I guess it means ANYTHING.  (which includes healing your memories and self incriminations)  But there’s more –

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”,   Phil 3:13 (NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

On the other hand, if we are constantly recalling positive experiences of the past, it usually means that our happiness is caught up deeds or works we did earlier…with pride hovering around us ready to establish (or grow) a deeper root.  Even reliving our own old glory days too often can hold us back from hearing the new thing God has for us now.

Here is what the Bible says about living in the past:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Cor 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  Phil 3:8 (NKJV)

Living in the future = Anxiety and Fear.

We all like to think about the possibility about a wonderful future where our dreams come true and that is not a bad thing.  However, truth be told, when most of us think about the future, it’s usually about negative things…things we fear.  Fear of losing a job, not being able to pay the bills, not being able to care for our families and more.  We all face these fears, including myself.  The key is not to dwell on our fears but to give them over to God…that is what he wants us to do with them.  Also, check out our next keys to happiness next week where we’ll talk about how to overcome fear.

Here is what the Bible has to say about fixating on the future, worry and fear:


“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  ”But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.   Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad”.  Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good.”   Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them…Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing.  For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, Fear not, I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:10-13 (NKJV)

Living in the present

If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.  ~Author Unknown

We crucify ourselves between two thieves:  regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.  ~Fulton Oursler

There is a lot of truth in the above words.  For a very few people, living is the present comes naturally, including our dogs.  That is definitely something we can learn from our K9s…they truly live in the present.  For most of us however, it takes effort to train our minds to let go of our worries and forgive ourselves of our mistake.  The good news is that we can do it with help from God.  He promises us (read the above verses again) to help us if we just let him.  When we do that, overall we’re happier people.

Do you realize that only when we live in the present can we experience God’s presence?

Keys to happiness exercise:

  • Ask God for help (ask Jesus into your life if you have not done so already)
  • Read the above scriptures and others from our Successful Living area every day for a week
  • Memorize the scripture that speaks to you most
  • Every time fear, worry or regret creeps into your mind, pray, give it to the lord and repeat your favorite scripture.
  • Ask others to pray for you
  • Feel free to e-mail us with questions
  • Sign up for our e-mail reminder as soon as a new key to happiness is published

Previous Happiness Lessons:

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness – Key #3 – Learning How to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness – Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

May you find true happiness and may God answer your prayers – Amen!

How to find Happiness – Learning How to Forgive Yourself

Key #3 to Happiness – Forgive Yourself!

“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose. For this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

 –Mary Pickford, Canadian actress

As Christians, we are taught at an early age to forgive others.  We even recite in the Lord’s Prayer, “… we forgive those who trespass against us.”  And I am sure that must of us can recall the line from a poem written by English writer Alexander Pope, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

We learn that we must also ask God for His forgiveness when we sin or otherwise go against God’s word.  1 John 1:9 (NIV) admonishes us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” But how do we learn to forgive ourselves?

If you are anything like me, you may be your own worst critic. You may spend countless hours beating yourself up tor making a few mistakes in your life.  You may obsess over such things as “Why did I make that stupid comment in the business meeting this morning?” or “Why did I take the expressway this morning instead of the local streets? Now I am stuck in all this traffic!”  Or you may be agonizing over a misdirected life decision, “Why did i major in Computer Science in college instead of English? I always did enjoy writing. Why didn’t I follow my passion?” Or you may be struggling with other issues like a car accident that turned out to be your fault or a failed marriage that ended in divorce. Looking back on these incidents now, they may seem  so trivial, but at the time, the thoughts or decisions may have seemed like the most important issues in the world!

Just remember that God has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Whatever road your life takes or whatever decisions that you are making, it will all work out for the good in the long run.  Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose.” As long as you continue to trust God and put him first in your life you will succeed. Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will will direct your paths.”

Don’t forget to continue thanking God for all that He has done for you.  Ha is still working through you, even in the most difficult of times. And yes, even when God seems silent, He is still there with you!

So if you are currently working toward a specific goal on life’s journey and what you thought was going to work out several months ago is no longer working out for you, don’t give up! Take some time to regroup. Revise your plans, reshape your goals, and get back in there!

“… a lot of times the world doesn’t put rocks in our way. Instead we put them there ourselves.  When we hold on to our mistakes, we’re throwing rocks in our own path…  when we detach ourselves from worry and let go of our mistakes, the road always opens up.  That’s why if you want to make a commitment to never quitting,  one of the first steps is to simply get out of your own way.”

 – Russell Simmons, hip hop mogul (with Chris Morrow), in his book, Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success

Don’t waste any more time continuing to be angry with yourself and by all means, forgive yourself for not getting it right this time.  Whatever the issue was.  Move forward with your life, starting with right now!

What is Self-Forgiveness?

To forgive oneself is not to make excuses for oneself. To forgive ourselves is:

–to pledge to learn from our mistakes;

–to gain a degree of self-control and not repeat them;

–to grow in our capacity for love and peace.

 This article may be a helpful resource for you as well, How To Forgive Yourself & Stop Feeling Guilty

The next time you start beating yourself up for doing something wrong, ask yourself the following questions:   from personal success coach Lisa Phillips: visit her website here

1. At the time of the event, was it realistic for you to expect yourself to do something different / behave in a different way?

2. Did you have the right people around you at the time that could have helped you?

3. At the time of the event, did you have the information or knowledge you needed to make a better choice?

Forgiving yourself for your limitations is a crucial first step in healing your life.  In an unprecedented time of turmoil and stress, most human beings are doing the best they can with the resources, wisdom, and knowledge they have available to them. Yes, it’s important to learn from your mistakes, but eventually you need to get the lesson and move on.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Trying to learn from your mistakes is a very healthy way of dealing with them. A reflection of what you have learned from your mistakes would be a perceptible change in your behavior. Remember that committing a mistake is not a crime, but repeating it, surely is! We learn from our mistakes, as we have to pay a price for them. To err is human and to learn how to avoid the same mistake in the future is also within human capacity.

Encourage Yourself To Move On

Realize that your life is not going to end or stagnate just because of a mistake of yours. Probably, the biggest lesson life teaches us is to move on. Forgive yourself completely and look forward to the future, which is always brighter and full of hope. Languishing in past will not give you an opportunity to time-travel to the bygone times and change things. Disembark yourself from past mistakes and march ahead!

Share your mistakes

Holding things to yourself will make it increasingly difficult to forgive yourself and stop feeling guilty. You can’t afford to keep wallowing in guilt over your wrongdoings. Remember that your mistakes always add to your experience, as life is a continuous learning process. You can always share your mistakes with others and warn them of the consequence that you suffered from. You will also get a chance to vent out your frustration in a more constructive way.

Unburden Your Heart

If you believe that your mistake is too big to be forgiven and keeping it to yourself is killing you, speak up and lift that burden off your heart. Confess your mistake in front of a close friend, whose guidance you trust and value. A guilt-free existence is only possible when your mistakes are not perpetually weighing on your conscience. Pardon yourself by pouring your heart out before someone you know will make you feel better.

 

Don’t Judge Yourself

The worst people can do is to judge themselves by their mistakes. Being judgmental equals to being disapproving, rather dismissive of the subject of our judgment. And, it gets worse when we are disapproving of your own self. Always remember that you are not a reflection of your mistakes, which are generic, but a manifestation of the good things that you do in life. If at all you want to grade yourself, do that in a balanced way, not being overwhelmed by your errors.
++++++

 

Rituals for Forgiveness
Throughout history, there have been rituals that assisted in the process of forgiveness.   Rabbi Irwin Kula shares some of those time-honored rituals:

Meditation/Reflection:
This is your first choice in the healing process. You cannot change the past, but you can own the present moment.
Use a Mantra: This exercise will help you change your thought patterns.  Every day, say to yourself, “I forgive myself.”  This is going to feel awkward at first, but keep doing it. This exercise is about changing your thought patterns.

Journaling: Recording your thoughts in a journal is a valuable way of releasing your feelings.  Each time you feel guilt during the day, write it down in your journal. You will be able to track when you feel this, and why, which will help you begin to understand your guilt. The same goes for the good feelings you experience. Write down the moments when you feel joy and richness in your life, and you will begin to recognize the things that release that joy.

Atonement: Learn how to consciously make a sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness. You can create your own sacrifice by asking yourself, “What will be my offering?” It could be philanthropy, political activism — something that requires a sacrifice of your time, money or effort. The key is to consciously make that sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness.

Success And Failure – Keys to happiness exercise:

  • Ask God for help (ask Jesus into your life if you have not done so already)
  • Read “God’s love for us” and “God’s Mercy” every day this week.
  • Ask others to pray for you
  • Feel free to e-mail us with questions
  • Sign up for our e-mail reminder as soon as a new key to happiness is published

For related articles – Check out:

Check out these Five Steps to Forgiving Yourself with Dr. Phil McGraw

Here is an insightful article from Prevention Magazine, Can You Ever Forgive Yourself? By Ellen Michaud , a former award-winning Prevention editor-at-large.

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson Series – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness – Key #3 – Learning How to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness – Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

Answers for Living

May you find true happiness, forgive yourself and may God answer your prayers – Amen!

How to find Happiness – Being Thankful!

Key #2 to Happiness – Being Thankful!

I don’t think that we can be happy if we don’t have a sense of thanksgiving for the good things in our lives.  Being thankful takes effort.  Naturally, most of us focus on our problems, on what we lack and what ails us.  Let’s face it…every one of us has some areas of our lives that are difficult and confusing.  Some of these challenges are short term and some are life-long burdens.  Some are self-inflicted and some are not our fault.

No matter how positive any one of us may be, there are times when a problem gets the best of us.  I must admit, as I write this, I am preaching to myself as well as sharing my thoughts with you.  Last week at work, for example, I let some of the pressures get to me.  We were trying to keep an important client happy, and everyone (including my direct manager and even the President of the company) had a passionate opinion about what I should do.  Unfortunately, the client had totally different ideas and I was walking that thin line of carrying the burden of keeping everyone happy.  The pressure even affected my life at home.  (My wife would say it wasn’t that bad, but I can see the difference when I don’t have much time for her)

I realize that some of you have much more serious problems.  Some of you might have lost your job or you lost your dream home due to foreclosure…some of you might have been informed that you have some serious illness, possibly even a life threatening one.  A dear relative of ours is living through everyone’s worst nightmare – the untimely death of one of their children in their 20’s.   How can one ever get past such a deep tragedy?  Is it even possible?  A better question is – does God really know what’s going on down here?  Does He see the pain you’re in, the impossible boss, the rebellious spouse or child, the empty bank account, or worse?

These situations are taking you by surprise, but not God.  He tells us that He saw every day of our lives before the foundation of the world – that every day of your life has been recorded in His book.  (God says this right after He tells you that He has more good thoughts about you than there are grains of sand on all the seas of the world)  He has a plan for you that goes way beyond your life on this planet – He has great plans for you throughout all eternity!  Since everyone will have different assignments after life on earth, each of us has to be prepared differently.  God has a wonderful future designed for you!  So you don’t want to be fighting against Him.

Our disappointments, losses and pressures, if not checked, can consume us and make our lives a living hell.  The question is…can we find happiness even when experiencing serious problems?  The answer is yes.  One of the keys to happiness is making a conscious decision and effort to take our focus off our problems and focus of all the good things in our lives…being thankful for those.

Some of you might argue that there is nothing to be thankful for.  On the surface that might seem true…but you’d be surprised.  I admit that this is not always easy but try we must nevertheless.

Personally, when I struggle with problems, I bring God into the situation, eventually.  As a stubborn Austrian, of course, I usually try to handle the problem first by myself… you know, my way!  But without Him, the whole situation inevitably gets worse.  Yes, I usually attempt a fix the hard way but then after several setbacks, I let Him take over.  The earlier in the challenge I surrender the issue to Him, the less pain I experience.  Why is that so hard to remember?   I don’t know why I need to re-learn the lesson over and over again.

Frankly, giving Him our issues is the first thing we should do. Did you know that God actually loves to hear from us about our problems?  He wants to be involved.  He is an amazing God that heals, provides, protects, restores and so much more.  Below are some Bible verses…

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalms 18:2 (NKJV)

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;  Psalms 46:1-2 (NKJV)

You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me
up again from the depths of the earth.  Psalms 71:20 (NKJV)

As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.  Psalms 103:13 (NKJV)

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.  Psalms 147:3 (NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV)

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.  Matt 5:4 (NKJV)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  ”Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  ”Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matt 5:10-12 (NKJV)

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  ”But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  ”Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.  Matt 10:29-31 (NKJV)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  ”Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  ”For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matt 11:28-30 (NKJV)

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  2 Corinthians 4:8 (NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NKJV)

So let’s take some time and think about all the things that are good in your life…your health…your husband or wife…your kids… your job…the fact you live in America…that you have roof over your head…that you can see…hear…walk…talk…and that Jesus died for you.  If you’re having trouble with this, just take some extra time to think about it…it will be worth it.  It’s amazing how many things most of us can come up with.

It is important to write these things down as you come up with these items.  Then read them out laud several times per day.  It’s really amazing what just that little exercise will do help us experience happiness.  Here is what the Bible says about being thankful…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7 (NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Psalms 118:1 (NKJV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  2 Cor 9:15 (NKJV)

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Col 3:17 (NKJV)

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,  Phil 1:3-4 (NKJV)

Keys to happiness exercise:

  • Ask God for help (ask Jesus into your life if you have not done so already)
  • Write down 10 -20 things you are thankful for
  • Read them every day for a week…maybe even twice per day
  • Every time a thought about your problem seem to creep into your mind, remind yourself of one or more things that you are thankful for
  • Ask others to pray for you
  • Feel free to e-mail us with questions
  • Sign up for our e-mail reminder as soon as a new key to happiness is published

For related articles – Check out:

How to find Happiness – 15 Lesson – Overview

How to find Happiness – Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #3 – Learning how to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness – Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

What to do when you’re sick

Don’t Worry

Salvation – What it takes to be saved

Answers for Living

May you find happiness and may God answer your prayers mightily – Amen!

How to find Happiness – A relationship with God

Key #1 to Happiness – A relationship with God

I believe that having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the most important key to finding happiness.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore”.  Psalms 16:11 (NKJV)

Knowing the one who made you, who planned your every feature and personality trait, who saw every day of your life before the foundation of the world – knowing this one is truly the cornerstone and the foundation of happiness.

There are several reasons why we experience happiness through a relationship with God.  Through this relationship, we find our origin, purpose, and destiny, which is a prerequisite to happiness (Read Gen. 1; Eccl. 12:13 and Matt. 25: 46).

It’s part of our DNA and how we were made.

An iPhone without any applications just wouldn’t be the same device.

A bicycle is meant to have wheels, without which it won’t work

A car meant to have steering…without it, it will drive, however, it will not work at it’s potential.

As humans, we’re meant to have deep emotional connections with others, without which there will be a void in our lives that can’t be replaced by anything else.

A baby is meant to have a mom and a dad who loves and cares for them, without which the baby will grow into a person with psychological issues through much of their lives.

When we ignore our need for God, life does not seem to work correctly.  In the same way as the above examples, God made us to have relationship with Him.  In a sense, God completes us.  When we choose to ignore that relationship, we fight against nature and our purpose and therefore elude happiness.

The Bible also says…“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.
Phil 4:6-7 (NKJV)

“Happy are the people whose God is the LORD”!  Psalms 144:15 (NKJV)

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full”.  John 15:11 (NKJV)

Some people mistakenly believe that when we become Christians, we will not have any more problems.  The Bible clearly tells us that we will have trouble in this life.  The good news is that when we have a relationship with him, God becomes our great comforter in times of trouble.  Also check out my article on “Why do bad things happen to good people!

these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NKJV)

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”.  Psalms 73:25-26 (NKJV)

“Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life”.  Psalms 119:49-50 (NKJV)


“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.   Psalms 23:1-4 (NKJV)

For additional verses check out our article on “Comfort”.

The biggest reason to start a relationship with God through Jesus His Son, the one and only Savior Messiah, is not for happiness…that is just a by-product.  The biggest reason to accept Jesus as our savior is because He was the only One capable of paying our ransom.   There will be a judgment day.  On that day, we will all be judged for our sins.  He does not use a sliding scale but judges by his perfect standard.  There is only one way to have a perfect record…it’s not by being a good person (check out “Are you a good person” – A test), but to accept His Son, Jesus as your savior.  He has paid the price for our sins, however, we need to accept that gift in order to receive it.  Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, there is a peace and happiness that comes from knowing that regardless of what disappointments or losses we face here on earth, our eternity is secure.  This is a peace like no other…in good and in bad times.

How to find happiness – Daily Exercises:

Put the following exercises into your routine daily…even multiple times per day for the next two weeks.

  • Pray to God to reveal himself to you (God answers prayer)
  • Ask Jesus to come into your heart (read the articles on “Salvation” below and let us know if you made a decision for Christ)
  • Get a Bible and start reading it daily
  • Find a bible teaching church (see link below)
  • Feel free to e-mail us with questions
  • Sign up for our e-mail reminder as soon as a new key to happiness is published

For more on what it takes to be saved check out:

Salvation – Questions and answers

Salvation – What it takes to be saved

Who is Jesus

Repentance – Key 1 to Salvation

How to find a church

Are you a good person – A test

May God answer your prayers mightily and may you find true and lasting happiness – Amen!

Additional Resources

How to find Happiness CourseNever miss a lesson – Get notified via e-mail as soon as a new lesson is available!

How to find Happiness Introduction

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness – Key #3 – Learning How to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness – Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

How to find Happiness!

An Introduction to our FREE 15 lesson course on How To Find Happiness“.

Webster Definition For Happiness: A state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable satisfaction.

Wikipedia Definition For Happiness:
Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.

A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.

The state of happiness can be illusive and even if achieved, it can be a hard thing to hold on to in this world – especially if we look for happiness in the usual places.

I remember when I first came to the US from Austria.  More than anything, I wanted to prove that I could be a success.  Like many people around the world, for decades I had heard about how anything was possible in America.  Anyone who was willing to work hard could live the American dream.

Well, it was true for me.  I quickly “fell” into an industry that I discovered I really loved – advertising.   I worked very hard and became one of the top ad sales people in the company.  I achieved what most people would consider great success…the American dream.

Why wasn’t it as satisfying as I had imagined?  I started to realize that being a business success wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  As I made more and more money, I was able to buy more and better things but I quickly came to the same conclusion that many before me have discovered – that happiness has little or nothing to do with how much money we have or the square footage of the house we live in.

If you’re still on that path, let me save you some time.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have more than enough, however, worldly success will not give you happiness.  Just look at the many examples of people who seemingly have it all but are so unhappy they end up overdosing on drugs or self-destruct in other ways.  At the same time, some people who live in horrendous poverty, where the kids don’t even own a pair of shoes, seem to be happy.  So am I saying that you have to be poor to find happiness?  No, not at all.

So what are  the keys to happiness?   Well, I believe one of the first is a state of being and state of mind…the way we look at life, money, possession, family, friends and this world.  Discovering this key unlocks many other doors.

Over the next few months, we’ll look at the meaning and the keys to happiness not just in principles, we’ll also include exercises we can do to help us change the way we look at life and make us happier people in the process.  We’ll focus on one key lesson at a time and practice and meditate on it over and over for an entire week.

How to find Happiness – Key #1 – A relationship with God

How to find Happiness – Key #2 – Being Thankful

How to find Happiness – Key #3 – Learning How to forgive yourself

How to find Happiness – Key #4 – Learning How to forgive others

How to find Happiness - Key #5 – Living in the present

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