Many folks are simply not living with joy in their lives. I often wonder what is holding them back? Why is there no light in their faces, no excitement in their voices? I think there might be a few reasons why this is becoming an epidemic of sorts.
One thing that I have observed is, people are surrounded by a bunch of whiners, gripers and complainers every day, and in all aspects of their lives. This type of behavior can come from people at work, church, home, social groups and more. Sometimes, we are surrounded with these people by choice, other times, not so much.
When we are constantly encircled by negative spirits that inject toxic thoughts and opinions, it can’t help but infiltrate our minds. This kind of influence will eventually turn us into whiners, gripers, and complainers too.
Another thing that I have observed is that folks feel that their happiness is dependent upon external factors. “Someone or something will make me happy!” They keep waiting for the compliments to come, keep waiting for people to come to them, they have a continuous “want” for acceptance from anyone, and they grasp at every opportunity to try and fill that gaping hole that they have.
And others that I have observed, have that do more, be more, have more, obtain more stuff syndrome, that I call, I-want-itis.
The picture-perfect life is always within grasp and it is always in the future. Living in the “someday” proves not to be obtainable and it is accompanied with statements like “I will be happy when…”
I-want-itis people are blinded to the fact that a $30 purse will hold just as much junk as a $300 purse! That a $15 pair of shoes, serves the same purpose as the $150 pair. We know this stuff, about stuff, but we find ourselves in a cycle of abusing and bruising ourselves with all of these wants that are impossible to obtain in most cases.
Regardless of what category we fall into, one or all, we miss the opportunities to be thankful for what we have been blessed with!
There are many benefits to living a grateful life. People who practice this daily take better care of themselves and seem to be protected from negative emotions in times of extreme losses. Health benefits can include better immune systems, sleeping better, and it benefits the heart and mental health.
People who live with joy in their lives have better social lives. They make better friends to others, focusing their attentions outwardly to those in their lives and showing a genuine concern for them.
Let’s move on and look at two words, Contentment and Complacency.
Contentment comes from within and it is a state of mind and it is a choice. It is a state of happiness and satisfaction. It’s not what you have, but how you feel about what you have that makes the difference.
Complacency is a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better. Complacent people are easily satisfied, quick to make excuses, and oftentimes are referred to as slugs.
There is a difference between contentment and complacency. We are never to stop growing and learning. A complacent person becomes prideful and unteachable. They stop dreaming and stop pushing, they just stop and eventually lose their joy.
C.S. Lewis states that the great problem with human beings is that we are far too easily pleased. We don’t seek pleasure with nearly the resolve and passion that we should. So, we settle for less.
I often wonder, from my observations, if Christians sometime don’t fully believe Jesus when he says there is more blessedness, more joy, more full and lasting pleasure in a life devoted to helping others than there is in a life devoted to our material comfort? Matthew 6:19,20
We are not called to be complacent. We are called to keep our eyes on the goal, keep the goal, work towards that goal, and run towards the goal. While doing so, we are to be content with what we have, be grateful for what we have already been given, while we are achieving new heights.
Colossians 3:15-17 Paul writes:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in work or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
1. Be content – let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
2. Be thankful – remember the good things God has done in your life
3. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly – Begin everyday with the word. He will give us a humble attitude that helps us to appreciate what he has done.
4. Sing to God with Gratitude in your hearts – be grateful for the one who has given you a hope and a future
5. Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus – It will keep you thankful during the most daunting times!
6. Give thanks to God the Father through him (Jesus) – Jesus died for us!
Look up! Giving praise to God and being thankful to God, will help us to recognize and appreciate the littlest of things, and the simplest of tasks. It’s not always about the big stuff! When you begin to recognize and are thankful for the small stuff, wow! When the big stuff happens, you’re going to appreciate it even more!
By looking up to heaven and staying focused, you will also begin to measure your successes differently. Remember that be more, do more, have more syndrome? This will change and fade away!
You might struggle in the beginning of this journey by not being able to recognize what you need to be thankful for, so ask Him to open your eyes! He will do that for you!
Once He has been revealed these things to you, it will change your life! Be thankful, serve Him with a grateful heart, then make sure you take care of what He has given you!
After looking up, we need to move horizontally outward to others.
Remember that you are blessed by what God has given you, be content, reach for heavenly goals, and share your riches, God’s gold, with others! A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles to take place within you and outside of you, so give away the good stuff!
1. Associate with the right people – don’t give your pearls to swine -cut down on the amount of time you spend with the “negative nellies” in your life. Let them observe that you will not stand for gossip, or malice or any negative thoughts, once you quit partaking in that foolishness, they will weed you out! Negative people don’t hang with positive folks. They don’t want their party to get rained on.
2. Say thank you as often and as much as you can. – in person, send thank you notes, a simple email, or phone call or text.
3. Appreciate everything that people do for you and show it. – even for the small things, that may all they have to give.
4. Be thankful for the people God has put in your life. – even the EGR’s! They are in your life for a reason, so learn from the experiences!
a. Are you being taught patience or a new skill level with how to handle people, are you learning about boundaries?
b. Are you being blessed by knowing someone? Have they changed your life for the better?
5. Serve others with a grateful heart. – Grateful Heart, please! And do all work and service work to honor God.
6. Set a goal of improving at least one person’s life a day! – help someone in need, who can you smile at, greet warmly, listen to, encourage, pray for.
7. Simply put, Treat People Well - Content, happy people are not jealous or envious people! They do not have a critical spirit that runs people down, they treat and serve others with joy and delight and are very uplifting souls! They want people to be successful and even more successful than themselves!
Joy in doing good and to others is final joy in God, because the ultimate good that we are always aiming for is to 1) display the glory of God and 2) to expand our own joy in God to others.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
And in the middle of the storm James 1:2-4 tells us to consider it pure joy, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance, which will make you mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The more that you have matured, the more you realize exactly how much you have been given to be thankful for and you LOOK for things to be grateful for. You LOOK for the positive, you LOOK to do the positive, and you LOOK up to heaven and say THANK YOU!
You are thankful for the Hope in your heavenly future, and you are grateful for God’s abundancy that He has given you. The most natural response to having all these things is joy, peace, and contentment.
C.S. Lewis wrote – “It is a Christian duty for everyone to be as happy as he can.”
Personally, I treat delight and joy as a duty.
Let Christ be your treasure chest of holy joy!
From the Lecture Series for “Making Wise Choices”
Debra Lee, Speaker/Author of “It Is What It Is…but it wasn’t a tragedy” and “Making Wise Choices…the most important life skill to master”