“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” the Bible tells us.1 That friend is Jesus, who also promises, “I am with you always”2 and “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”3 His presence can fill the aching void within that we all sometimes feel, no matter how many close companions we may have on life’s journey. We need to learn to let Jesus fill that void.
In the last few years, psychologists and researchers have been digging up hard data on a question previously left to philosophers: What makes us happy? Researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, and ethicist Stephen Post have studied people all over the world to find out how things like money, attitude, culture, memory, health, altruism, and our day-to-day habits affect our well-being. The emerging field of positive psychology is bursting with new findings that suggest your actions can have a significant effect on your happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are 10 scientifically proven strategies for getting happy.
I am the father of a large family, a full-time Christian volunteer, and a part-time sports coach. During our family’s two-year stay in India, I always packed some sports equipment when we traveled.
Our time there included many challenging and rewarding experiences. Our teenagers did volunteer work at several medical clinics, where they cheered up and helped ease the suffering of terminally ill children. They also taught at a home for children who had lost their parents to AIDS. We traveled to the sites of natural disasters, bringing water, food, clothing, and other relief supplies. It seemed that wherever we turned, someone needed encouragement or assistance.
There is a mystery in human hearts: to every one of us, from time to time, there comes a sense of utter loneliness.
Some of the loneliest people in the world are those who are constantly surrounded by others, yet they feel that no one truly knows or understands them. They may even have an abundance of material things—everything to satisfy every physical need—yet they complain of loneliness. They long to share their interests with someone, to find someone who will listen to their problems and sympathize with them.
When someone asked Jesus what was God’s greatest commandment, He replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”1 As far as God is concerned, love is the supreme virtue. Love is the most important thing. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect; He doesn’t ask us to be free from mistakes; He doesn’t ask us to do great things that the world will hear of. He just asks us to love others.
God’s idea of prayer is not a ritual, but loving and lively communication between the best of friends.
But sad to say, many people think they can’t talk to God like that. Some think they’re not religious enough, not righteous enough, or not spiritual enough. Some think He’s too big—too far above them. Some think He’s too busy to be concerned about them and their problems, which to Him must seem awfully petty. Some feel unworthy, not good enough. Some feel guilty or ashamed about things they’ve done. Some are even afraid of Him. If only they understood how differently God sees it!
A group of social scientists asked this question to a group of children: “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think.
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
It’s been said that people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. How true!
Most people tend to be a little selfish. It’s human nature to “look out for number one,” to put your own needs and desires before the needs of others. It’s easy enough to get caught up in your own life and problems, but when you do that, you’re creating a bigger problem by closing yourself off to many wonderful things in life and many wonderful people.
The vision lasted only a few seconds, but it left a big impression. I had been talking with a friend, when suddenly I saw a glimpse into the future. We were hugging, laughing, and talking about our lives—and we were in Heaven. This has happened to me several times. Sometimes it has been with a close friend, and other times it has been with someone I had just met. In each case I was left with the profound feeling that friendships in Heaven are much deeper and more meaningful and longer lasting than the ones we enjoy in this life.