... praise the Lord! Did you think I was going to say, “Clap your hands”? Many of you may now be singing to yourself that children’s song, often popular at summer camp or on the school bus. This article however is not about that tune, but about true happiness found in and caused by God.
Our tendency is to believe that satisfaction at any level is governed either positively or negatively by circumstances, events, relationships, etc. What if that’s not true? What if happiness is actually a constant and our connection with it is made plain through peeling away the influence of human conditions?
A recent survey called The Better Life Index showed a surprising result among participants from 34 different nations – including the wealthiest in the world. The happiest respondents were not those with the most money, best education, or greatest power. They were in fact at the bottom of the list of all those categories. The happiest ones attributed their joy to faith, family, and love of country. You can read about the details in this article from The Christian Science Monitor.
Jesus makes the same point in his Sermon on the Mount. To me, it seems as if he’s asking, “Why are you looking to your food and clothing – or any merely human situation – for happiness? Don’t you see that anybody who’s preoccupied with those things finds no joy. Instead, look to your heavenly Father and only to Him, and every single detail of your life – including your happiness – will be generously supplied by God every moment” (see Matthew 6:25-33).
Jesus seems to be indicating – as do the lives of those who are happy even without all the stuff and status – that happiness is a choice: a choice based not on the conditions we pursue but on the thoughts and attitudes we cultivate.
For me, the best way to develop a joyful mental state is through prayer. And not a prayer of “gimme” but a prayer of gratitude – genuine appreciation for all the good that God is infinitely pouring forth. This shift in viewpoint occurs in consciousness first – but it is always then found in experience.
So choose happiness as natural and normal – God bestowed. And then go ahead and clap your hands!
Adapted from the author’s blog.