If I’m unhappy, who is to blame?
“The real purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to make some difference you have lived.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is a Sunday school song, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face should surely show it.” Although it is easy to smile when you are happy, what about those days when everything seems to go wrong? Maybe one of those mornings when you rush out of the house and you are already ten minutes late and find that a tire on your car is flat! Does throwing a tantrum and maybe even give the tire a kick really help? The fact is you can’t change the situation, the tire is flat and regardless of how you react it won’t change! The rational thing to do even you do not feel too rational at the time is to maybe call AAA and then alerting your first appointment that you will be delayed. Although, you probably won’t have a smile on your face how you choose to react to a distressing incident will affect the rest of the day! It is important to recognize that although we cannot control the frustrating happenings in life, how we react to them is up to each of us.
We often try to find happiness in the wrong way. We attempt to gain it by getting instead of giving. Sometimes we link happiness with a goal: “I’ll be happy when I find the right job” or “when I get my finances in order” or “when I finally retire” or “when I find the right life-mate”. Each day can be exciting and meaningful if we see ourselves as God’s representatives, ready to spread happiness to others rather than feeling we alone deserve it.
A variety of people have reflected on gaining happiness. For example, Helen Keller observed, “Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “Most people are as happy as they make up their mind to be.” One anonymous observer averred, “If we aren’t happy with what we have, the chances are we will not be happy with what we want.” The central theme of these observations is that we must look within ourselves for happiness and not expect other people or things to supply it. As Kalidasa, the famous Indian playwright so insightfully claimed, “Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision.” Unfortunately, we often predicate our happiness on what could have happened yesterday or what we wish would happen tomorrow. I wonder if while we are berating the past or dreading the future, we often let the small daily happy events slip away unacknowledged.
It seems clear that an attitude of happiness in life is a matter of our own will. Do we really want to be happy or would we rather mope and have a ‘pity poor me’ party? We have all known people who never seem to find happiness in any situation – life for them seems a drag! We truly need to ask the Lord, “Open my eyes, so I may see glimpses of truth you have for me.”* Perhaps the secret is to look for happiness all day long, to try to let go of yesterday’s disappointments and live each day in the joy of that day, as we may never see tomorrow!
Actually, whether we appreciate it or not we have so much more to be grateful for and so few events to feel sad about. If we would only take a few minutes each day to list our joys, we would find numerous items that could provide us with happiness if we would take time to acknowledge them! I constructed this list in just a few minutes, what might you add to it?
1. Having people who care for me and would do much
to protect my happiness.
2. Having a God who cares for me and watches over
me and helps me become the person that He desires
me to be.
*Hymn: “Open My Eyes, That I May See”, Clara H. Scott.
3. Having opportunities to serve Him in my community,
my family and my church.
4. Living in a country that permits me to worship as I
5. Having adequate resources to provide me with a
sense of security.
6. Being able to being self-sufficient at the age of 80.
Give it a try and as the old hymn suggests: “Count your blessings – name them one by one; count your blessings – see what God hath done.”**
**Hymn: “Count Your Blessing”, Johnson Oatman, Jr.