The walls of my bedroom are brightening with a new day’s sun. I rub my eyes, stretch, and yawn, allowing my thoughts to travel far on memory lane. Through the twists and turns of my life, I’ve made what I like to think is a discovery—though surely many others have long found this secret. I have discovered what makes a person happy and how I can be happy too.
A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.
The world is like a mirror: Frown at it, and it frowns at you; smile at it and it smiles too.
When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to play the Smile Game. Whenever we were out and about, running errands with our mom, going to the supermarket, or waiting at the stoplight, we’d have a little competition to see who could find the most smiles amongst the people passing by.
Peter was awestruck. Along with James and John, he’d trudged up the mountain following Jesus, when suddenly “[Jesus’] face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” The spectacle was soon even more amazing: Moses and Elijah—dead for many centuries—appeared and started talking with Jesus.1
Nehemiah said it was the source of true strength.1 The psalmist David found it in God’s presence and offered it back to Him as a love gift.2 Jeremiah found it in God’s Word.3 King Solomon said it was one of God’s rewards for right living.4 Jesus promised it to His followers and said it came through believing and doing what He said.5
The joy God can give you enables you to be happy even if things aren’t perfect in your earthly situation, because it reaches beyond that. God promises that things will turn out all right in the future, and that He has strength available for you in the present.
“Do you want to be happy?” The splash on a magazine cover caught my eye and made me chuckle. Surely everyone wants to be happy; and you’d think that after millennia of philosophers and theologians tackling the problem—not to mention the self-help books and articles published every year on the topic—we’d have figured out the formula!
So how easy is it to be happy?
I think most parents would agree that the highest hopes we have for our children are for their health and happiness. Recently, I’ve been wondering if there was something more specific that I could be asking God for on my daughter Audrey’s behalf, and I considered praying for her future success.
One of the central questions that philosophers and theologians have struggled with for millennia is the mystery of what gives life meaning. Everyone wants to be happy and fulfilled, but how can we tell what true happiness is and where it comes from?
The ability to look on the bright side is a gift. It enhances your happy times and makes the difficult times more bearable. It's the gateway to greater joy, which is one of the many treasures you found when you found Me. Love, faith, peace, joy—these and many more are My gifts to sustain and inspire you.
I want you to partake of My full joy,1 but there is something you must do before this can happen: You must accept who and what you are and believe that you were created this way for a wonderful purpose, that you were endowed with a unique set of gifts, talents, and attributes that will help you find and fill the special place in this world that only you can fill.