There are many different ideas and questions about happiness. Does being happy imply that we will never feel terrible? Is there a formula for happiness? Is being happy something we should even strive for as Christians? I answer all this and more as I give you 5 Biblical teachings on happiness that you can apply to your life. Unlike momentary, fleeting pleasure, true happiness can sustain us through the worst times.
Take this work and apply it in my cost-effective coaching group Clarity+Courage, where you will get live coaching, application tools, workshops, lessons, Scripture studies, and other tools that help you apply the concepts so you can create change. When you join, you get access to a whole vault of classes, tools, and coaching calls.
Learn more at https://www.myhappyvault.com.
Questions? Email Jill directly at Jill@thehappiestlives.com
You are listening to The Happiet Lives Podcast with Jill Lillard. Episode #5.
Hey, everybody, this month we are discussing how to have a happy life. I wanted to deep dive into this topic, as there are a lot of misconceptions, perceptions and definitions of happiness. And since my business is called The Happiest Lives, it makes sense to talk exclusively about happiness at least once. We will talk about it throught a lot of the work I do but I don’t think I have devoted a lesson or class to this subject. And so that will be this months topic in my online coaching group Clarity+Courage.
I want to be clear about how I am defining happiness as you consider what happiness means to you.
I'm posing the question, what is a happy life? How do you define that? What comes up for you when I say the word happy?
In 2018, I started my company, The Happiest Lives. I was deciding what to name my company. So many people had sat in my counseling office over the years telling me, "I'm just not happy in my marriage," as though they were entitled to happiness.
So, I presented this name and a few others to a small group of women for feedback. Some really liked the name The Happiest Lives- The Happiest Wives, but a few didn't like it.
Even still, it was the name that "won," and ultimately, I chose to name my business.
Interestingly enough, I have sometimes caught myself cringing at the name, even though I picked it. I only do that when I'm imagining other people's interpretations.
I don't share many personal pictures or antecedents about myself on social media. Still, there have been times I posted pictures of my family or I've favorably talked about my husband. And when I do that, I'm always sensitive to what insecurities it might trigger in others.
Even so, I know how somebody else feels about my posts is based on their thoughts. My pictures, words, and thoughts aren't what causes negative emotions within someone else; it is always what they think about what I'm sharing.
By no means is my life all sunshine and roses and beauty. We all go through challenging things, and this is the nature of being human: the 50/50.
We feel happy, we feel sad, we love, we argue, we laugh, we cry. We have mountains to climb and valleys to walk through. This is life here on earth, as God allowed it to be.
If we're feeling unhappy, we may compare and despair, looking for evidence that we're getting the short end of the stick. I can't control others' comparing or making assumptions, and I don't want to convey that life is supposed to match a picture.
When envisioning the Happiest of Lives, I'm not promoting hedonistic values void of biblical truth. People often say, "Well, just do what makes you happy," or "I just want my kids to be happy." And I want my kids to be happy, and I want people to be joyful about the decisions they make.
But that doesn't mean I want them to find the quickest dopamine hit at the cost of what will make them truly happy in the long term, always honoring Biblical values and commitments above pure, selfish, short-sighted gratification.
Happiness is not typically found in what immediately satisfies us; we're never happy when our happiness is at another's expense. Although the joy we experience- true joy- it's because of the price Jesus paid on the cross-- that WAS at his expense.
We're all part of the body, and Christ is the head. And when we plug into that, when we serve and love others and build others up, we're not just looking out for our selfish gain. That doesn't mean we're just trying to people-please and make others happy because seeking the approval of others is not a recipe for happiness. What we think others want us to do may be different from what they need or want. Thus, the only way to find true happiness is to keep plugged into Christ as the head. In that way, we can edify the greater whole, building up the body and seeing ourselves as part of something more than just ourselves.
Happiness cannot be faked or forced, yet we must be willing to have peace and joy, even when experiencing negative emotions. That's very different than pretendinging and trying to power your way there.
As a kid, I was asked to be the flower girl at a wedding. And if you're a flower girl, you will be included in all the pictures taken. And let me tell you, there are a lot of pictures taken at weddings.
I was asked to smile in all of the photographs. This was something I had never done before. Back then, people didn't even take pictures the way we take them now, right? My children have grown up with cameras in their faces, and we're constantly taking pictures of them. My teenagers have learned to smile since they were babies. It's just the culture we live in. But back then, people weren't putting cameras in your face all the time. So in the late 70s and early 80s, when I was in this wedding and told I needed to smile for all the pictures, it was a lot of pressure.
It was awkward, and I felt uncomfortable. My brain was trying to process what it meant, and I had never digested this experience. I was thrown into the situation and told it was my job to smile, and I found myself resisting it.
I didn't feel like smiling, and it felt fake. It didn't feel genuine.
At the wedding, my parents took me aside, and they used my first and middle name, "Jill Marie," so I knew it was very serious. They firmly told me it was a privilege to be in this wedding and that I needed to smile and not be stubborn and uncooperative. I needed to shape up and get with the program, or Jill Marie would have a reason not to smile when she got home.
Still, I didn't smile. I wasn't trying to be selfish or uncooperative. I remember the car ride home was quiet and long.
I say all this to say I'm not a promoter of acting fake or trying to look a certain way. I want you to operate with sincerity and all you do, and I want a congruence inwardly and outwardly in how you're living your life.
As an adult, I would have smiled at the wedding, even if I didn't like it, because it honored my higher values. But as a kid, I was frozen under the pressure to perform.
To be happy does not mean that there's no room for sadness and sorrow or that laughter is better than crying. Now, I certainly would not name my business, The Most Sorrowful Wives or The Saddest Lives because that's different from what everybody wants. Our goal is not to be sad and full of sorrow. Still, it's an essential part of life.
Jesus was a man of many sorrows, despised, rejected, and acquainted with grief. Sorrow is part of our life; we must learn to walk through it gracefully. And when we're willing to walk through it, we will find hidden treasures in those dark places. When we live a life to please the Lord, and we do things his way, we will experience more happiness, joy, peace, and contentedness than we could have otherwise.
Three motivations drive humans: to seek pleasure, avoid pain and be efficient. We want to be happy; we all want to feel good. This isn't something to be ashamed of. The Lord wants us to feel good too. That's why he has given us parameters and boundaries for how to live our lives. He does it for our well-being.
It was for their benefit when he told Adam and Eve to enjoy everything in the garden but one tree. At the heart of happiness are contentment and satisfaction, a joy not contingent on our circumstances. We want to have an internal locus of control rather than relying on forces outside of us, which would be an external locus of control, to define how we feel.
Scripture is full of passages about joy, gladness, happiness, contentment, and peace.
If you're inside my coaching program, Clarity+Courage, you know that each month I provide you with a scripture study of the monthly topic, and this month is no exception. You will find that Scripture has a lot to say about happiness. It tells us to rejoice, give thanksgiving, offer the sacrifice of praise, and worship God. These are each central to the Christian faith.
The Bible also addresses sadness, sorrow, and suffering as a natural part of life, guiding us on how to cope with these emotions. In our difficult places, we can find comfort in the Lord. And oftentimes, he will provide relationships for us during those times that can strengthen and encourage us. The Lord will encourage us during trials and difficulties if we feel all alone. Gifts are developed within us during trials that ultimately make us happier people.
Today, I want to share five biblical principles for living a happy life. As this concept is interwoven throughout Scripture, there are so many passages we can choose from, but I will just constrain to five concepts.
The first biblical teaching on happiness is that true happiness comes from a relationship with Jesus. We can strive and seek and search for things to fill us and make us happy, but those things will always fall short.
As a teenager and young adult. I loved the book of it. Ecclesiastes, I said it was my favorite book of the Bible. Some would say, "Man, that's a really depressing book."
Maybe it resonated with that melancholy part of myself that was in touch with the reality that this isn't our home.
It has the message that everything is meaningless, "Meaningless, meaningless, says the teacher. Everything is a chasing after the wind." That resonated with me. The falling leaf. The passing vapor. Nothing seems last.
You can get a great tan, but it will soon fade.
You could pull all the weeds out of the yard, but then the weeds would eventually come back.
You can love people, and they can leave you.
Life is meaningless when we don't have a relationship with God. The pleasures of life will not satisfy and fulfill us.
In Ecclesiastes, the writer, the teacher, set out to test what would make him happy. He consciously ran a little experiment.
For a time, he focused on pursuing pleasure- hedonistic pursuits, filling himself with good food, drinks, women, and parties. And at the end of the day, he found that all of it was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Then he set out consciously to pursue a life of responsibility. I imagine him being driven toward goals, producing successful outcomes, making achievements, and focusing on discipline. But he found that this, too, was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
And really, his conclusion in the whole book was that we should fear God and keep His commandments, but also that we should enjoy our inheritance from the Lord. Food, drink, and relationships were all gifts from God. Neither success nor pleasure should be central to our existence. At the end of the day, our relationship with the Lord should be the one thing because, without him, it doesn't matter what direction you go. The end is the same.
Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life and your presence, there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. "In a relationship with the Lord, when we are in His presence, we're going to find the fullness of joy.
Psalms 37:4 " Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." So if we seek the Lord first, we will also experience a byproduct of being more fulfilled. His way is the best.
Psalms 144:15 "Happy are the people who are in such a state, Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."
Is Jesus Lord of your life? Is he the one that you are surrendering to and thirsting for? If He is, you will find happiness as you abide in this relationship with Him daily.
The second principle I want to talk about for living a happy life is that happiness comes from living a righteous life. The Bible teaches that living a life according to God's will is what brings us happiness.
Proverbs 3:13 says, "Blessed it is the one who finds wisdom. And the one who gets understanding."
Psalms 1:1-2, "blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law, he meditates day and night."
Are you meditating on Scripture? Are you hungry for God's word?
Proverbs 16:20. "Those who listen to instruction will prosper. Those who trust the Lord will be joyful." That's a powerful promise that God is giving us in His Word.
The third principle is material possessions do not bring lasting happiness.
The Bible warns that when we make money the center of our lives when we love money, and our primary goal is to make money or acquire material possessions, we won't be happy. We're going to be exhausted and discontent.
Now, this isn't to say that money is a bad thing. Money and possessions can be a blessing from God, and we can enjoy their benefits.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, "Whoever loves money never has enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This, too, is meaningless."
But then, in Ecclesiastes 5:19, a few verses later. "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot, and be happy in his work, this is a gift from God. "
So God does give us material things. And he is the one who enables us to enjoy those things. But we don't want to make those things the source of our happiness, the center of our world, the pursuit of our hearts.
Number four, happiness comes from helping other people.
Acts 20:35 says, "In everything I did, I showed you by this kind of hard work, we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, It is more blessed to give than to receive." So we are instructed to help those weaker than us and receive this giving as a blessing.
Proverbs 11:25 says, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes, others will be refreshed." And Luke 6:38 says, "Give and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
II Corinthians 9:7 "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Are you giving from a place of joy? Or are you doing it out of compulsion, reluctantly, because you feel you have to?
It makes a difference. It's not the action that matters as much as where it's coming from in your heart.
The action certainly does matter, and action must follow belief to be true faith. So if you believe God wants you to give and you're not doing so for you, that is a sin. But if you're doing it from a place of resentment and compulsion, you're missing the entire gift in the giving.
We can be willing to give because we trust the Lord, know His ways are good, and that he always provides for us. Then we experience joy in giving, which creates a circular process of having and receiving all we need.
Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ." We want to support and encourage one another, and this is the law of Christ. Overall, the Scriptures teach us that helping others brings blessing and happiness. And when we give generously and cheerfully, we not only help those in need, but we will also bring joy to ourselves.
The last principle that I want to look at today is happiness comes from having meaningful relationships.
The Bible teaches us that having meaningful relationships will bring us happiness. We see this in Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for times of adversary."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up, but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."
Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn."
I Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore, encourage one another, build each other up just as in fact you are doing."
Meaningful relationships with friends, family, and fellow believers can bring joy, support, and encouragement. We're not meant to go through life alone. We're called to love one another, support one another, and build each other up.
This is what I think of when I talk about happiness. Life will have all the feelings, but joy and peace are always available at the center because these are not created by our circumstances but by the Spirit living in us.
When we're willing to abide in Jesus and trust His goodness and faithfulness, allowing ourselves to feel it in our bones and take action even when we don't feel like it, we are free. We are free to sing and dance and rejoice. We are free to have the happiest life. Thank you for listening. Let's do it again next week.