Thursday, October 26, 2017

Day 26-What is Your Happiness Set Point?

  **This is part of a 31 day series on Joy in the Journey. To read the rest click here. ** 
           Did you know people have a genetic set point for happiness? It doesn’t mean we can’t increase our happiness. But to a certain extent our happiness is part of the personality we were born with. Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, The How of Happiness, says research shows that like our metabolism, intelligence and athleticism, our happiness is determined somewhat by our DNA. That is how God made us. It makes sense. There are people who always seem to be happy. They have an optimistic outlook regardless of their circumstance. There are also those people who never seem happy. Their life can be going great, happy marriage, kids, good job and still, they seem to have no joy.

We are all are born with a happiness set point that accounts for fifty percent of our happiness. Ten percent of our happiness is determined by our circumstances. If you get a promotion at work, find out you are pregnant, or the person in front of you in the drive-thru pays for your coffee – these things can increase our happiness.  If we get a ticket on the way to work, get a call from the high school that our son is suspended (this is hypothetical of course!) or receive a bad report from the doctor, these things can seriously deplete our happiness.

The good news is this leaves forty percent we have control over. Our happiness increases based on what we think about and what we do.  Lyubomirsky writes,

“If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and our circumstances.”

If this is true, the question is what can we do to increase our happiness? Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of The Happiness Dare, says it depends on what your Happiness Style is. (You can read more about that and take the Happiness Style test by clicking here.)

If your Happiness Style is Doer, Lee says you should get up and do something meaningful. Accomplish something on your to-do list. Do something you have wanted to do for a long time.

If your Happiness Style is Relater you need to be around people. Invite friends over, plan a game night, call someone and talk on the phone. Relaters increase their happiness by investing in relationships.

If you are an Experiencer go outside and make a memory. Take a walk and watch the sun set, go to the zoo, or plan your next vacation. Planning and looking forward to your next adventure will greatly increase your happiness.

If you are a Giver cook a meal and bring it to someone who is sick. Send a care package to a college student, or send an old school card in the mail.

If your Happiness Style is Thinker take time out to be alone with a good book. Read something challenging. Learn a new skill. Contemplate the latest podcast you listened to.

We may be born with a happiness set point, but we have control over what we choose to do and think about. We have the ability to increase our happiness by intentionally doing those things that bring us joy.

What could you do to increase your happiness today?



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Day 25 - Marriage Doesn't Make You Happy

“Marriage doesn’t make you happy. You make your marriage happy.”
Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott

I was talking to a young woman recently who was telling me what went wrong with her relationship of the past two years. One of the first things she said was, “All my friends say he treats me badly.”

That was enough for me. “If everyone is telling you that, then you should run away from that guy.” I told her. She told me some of the rude, self-centered ways he treated her and my Mama Tiger kicked in. “You don’t need that guy. You need a guy who treats you great and thinks you are wonderful. You need a guy who pursues you and wants to be around you, someone who wants to listen to you and do things with you, someone you can have fun with and you don’t have to worry about walking on egg shells around him because he has anger issues. You need someone who is kind and cares about you.
She smiled like I was telling her a fairy tale. “I’ll never find a guy like that,” she said.

Then I gave my standard pre-marriage advice, “Don’t settle. Forever is a long time to be married and you want someone you love and who is head over heels in love with you and treats you like a princess.”

I couldn’t convince her. She shook her head not believing what I said was possible. And then she said something that broke my heart. “I would rather be in a bad relationship than alone.”

No! I couldn’t believe she said that! She was as cute as she could be with long sandy hair, half pulled up in a messy bun, skinny black pants, red blouse and cute pointy red flats. With her flawless skin and beautiful smile she could be a model. Her personality was kind, sweet and endearing. Any guy would love to be with her.

With only fifty percent of marriages making it, we have an obligation to encourage others that there are joyful marriages. It is our duty to instill hope in the next generation that a happy marriage is possible. It’s not a fairy tale. She went on to tell me both her sisters married men who treated them badly. They didn’t hit them but they weren’t nice to them. She said they grew up watching their Dad, who she said wasn’t a bad person, but her Mom almost divorced him because he had a porn addiction. All the guys she knew were like that.

I went off. “There are great guys out there. Don’t settle for someone who treats you badly just because you don’t want to be alone. I’ve been married 30 years to a guy who has loved me and treated me great. We enjoy being together and have fun together.  He is my best friend. He still looks at me like I am the best thing that ever happened to him, even when I am sometimes a hormonal emotional mess.” She smiled.  I kept going, “I’m serious, life is too short to be with a guy who doesn’t cherish you and want the best for you. Thirty years is a long time to be in a miserable marriage. Look for someone who thinks you are amazing and who brings you joy. It is the best going through life with an amazing person who you love and who loves you and treats you well.”

What could she say after that? I had more. I could have kept going, but I hope she got my point. I wanted her to know that marriage can be a beautiful thing with the right person. Marriage doesn't make us happy, but marrying someone who loves God and following His plan for marriage can bring great joy.
Today we've been married 31 years.

Happy Anniversary to the man who loves me,
sees the best in me and makes me feel special everyday!

(This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)


Monday, October 23, 2017

Joy in Trials -Part 2

**(This is Part 2 of Joy in Trials. To read the first part, click here.)**

In addition to James1: 2 “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” There is another verse, First Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Like James, Peter also gives the reason why we should rejoice in trials. He says, “These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  

He is saying trials have come so our faith will grow and that will bring glory and honor to the Lord.  If you are in a difficult circumstance or stressful situation consider the struggle a trial. Then consider it a joy because God allowed it in order to grow and mature us. Trials produce spiritual maturity, which is why they can be considered a gift or a joy.

Kay Warin in her book, Choose Joy, says, “We hate the process that makes us like Christ because it involves pain, sorrow, stress and upheaval. Yet we all want what it produces: spiritual maturity.”

When we persevere through trials, especially when we are able to choose joy in it, our spiritual maturity on the other side not only brings glory to God, but can also help and comfort others. When you or someone you love is going through cancer treatment, who do you want to talk to? Someone who has endured those same treatments. When you are praying for your prodigal teenager, who offers the best advice? Someone who has had a prodigal. Our trials are not for nothing. They have purpose. They benefit us and they can benefit others.

It is rare and inspiring to see people who choose joy in the midst of their trials. When you see this in people you can tell their faith in God is strong. In fact, their joy is evidence the Lord is with them and carrying them through their trial. This is not to say we have to be happy every minute as we go through difficult seasons. It means when given the choice, we are able to keep our eyes on the Lord, know that when we trust and follow Him, He works all things out. The outcome may not be what we wanted or prayed for. But if we keep our focus on the things we know to be true: that God loves us and has a plan and purpose for our lives, and in the end, if we are true believers, we will have our home in heaven. Joyful heaven.

There are many lessons to be learned in trials and much spiritual growth can happen if we allow it. I knew several proud successful people who lost their jobs. This was a devastating loss and brought about a financial crisis for their families. But God used it to teach them humility. They came out on the other side of their trial different. Their arrogance was gone. They were teachable and more dependent on the Lord.

What about you? Has a trial or difficult season changed you for the better? 
Have you ever been refined by fire?

 (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read all the posts, click here.)


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Joy in Trials

The most well known Bible verse about Joy is James 1:2  
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”

The verse is insightful because it assumes, and rightly so, trials will be a part of every believer’s life. The 'trials of many kinds' range from Christian persecution and martyrdom to the struggles and difficulties of the 21st century. Large or small, we all have trials and challenges.

Thankfully, James gives us the reason why we should consider trials a joy. He says, “because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.”

The Message version of the Bible calls joy a gift.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way."

The part that speaks to me is, “don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.” During stressful or difficult times, I often start to think about quitting.

I have quit diets – it is too hard to lose weight.

I have quit fitness goals – it is exhausting working out and going to the gym everyday.

I quit fasting one day a week – it is hard to starve yourself all day.

I quit gardening – the weeds grew faster than I could pick them. I gave in. They won.

I started writing several books and quit before they were completed. –It is time consuming.

Granted, these are all self- imposed stresses but had I finished them, I would be in better shape in several areas than I am now. In the middle of a trial I think about quitting. I try to figure out how I can escape or remove myself from the situation. In most of them there is no way out, I must finish. I have the choice to go through the trial, test or challenge with a depressed, poor-me attitude, or I can choose to view the situation as a gift that if I keep going through will develop maturity and perseverance in me.  If I choose to lean in to God, trust Him more, keep going knowing I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength, I can come out on the other side with a stronger faith and hopefully more wisdom than I had before.

There is no getting around the fact that life is full of trials. James encourages us to stick it out and finish, knowing that going through difficulties relying on God, builds Christian character in us. I have several situations in my life where I am encouraging myself to push through, finish, take the next step, and persevere. 

How about you?
Are you in a situation where you want to quit?
Can you see where if you stick it out and finish your perseverance will build maturity in you?
I encourage you, like James does, don’t quit prematurely.  Finish strong and choose to be joyful as you go through it.

                             Continued in Part 2 - Click here.

(This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Day 21 - Where Has My Joy Gone?

I hate to admit this but somewhere during this month I lost my joy. I know, here I am writing 31 Days of Joy in the Journey and it has been difficult for me to actually have joy. It’s nothing major, just the normal stress everyone has: running a business, three employees quit, training new employees, teenage boys, teenage girls, teacher’s calls, principal’s office, grades, graduation concerns, urgent care, no doctors, unanswered health issues, daughter with high risk pregnancy, growing ministry, a church merge, meetings, planning an Israel tour, insurance issues from a car accident, totaled car, dieting, lack of sleep, and two food obsessed dogs, you know, just the usual. Anyway, I can’t seem to find my joy.

Then I started reading The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee. In chapter three she issues the actual dare. She says she has taken the challenge and it changed her life, so she wrote the book to challenge others to take the Happiness Dare as well. You will have to get the book to read all the details, but the challenge is huge. It stopped me from reading for a few days wondering if I could really do it. So, here it is. Let me know if you are up for taking the challenge. I would love the company if anyone wants to do it with me.

The Happiness Dare Manifesto

Huge isn’t it? Are you up for it? Do you think you can do this? Reading the book has inspired me. I am taking the challenge. I’m going to do it.

See you tomorrow for a more joyful day!

(This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)