The world population is estimated to be over 7 billion people, and although we all have unique gifts, skills, and interests…we also have some things in common. Let me give you a perfect example, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and religion…we are all in pursuit of one common thing…and that is happiness! We all want to be happy!
Depending on where we are in life, happiness will mean different things to us. When we are a child, we are in pursuit of childish things like toys, then we become teenagers and we shift our focus from toys to “who” we associate with. Who will like us? Being accepted and “fitting in” becomes very important to us and we believe that will make us happy. Then as we transition into adulthood we chase different things to find happiness…we aim to find happiness in our careers, titles, the companies we work for, obtaining more money, material things like expensive cars, big homes, and luxurious vacations.
What we learn is that none of these things that the “world” tells us will give us happiness, will lead to genuine and everlasting happiness. Over the years I’ve learned that true happiness comes from God and it starts from within…not externally.
Do you want to know how to find happiness within yourself? It really begins with a choice, you have to “choose” to be happy. Just like you choose every day to get out of bed, get dressed and go out into the world, you must choose to be happy even if you don’t “feel” like it. You must make a conscious decision that you will pursue internal happiness and not allow anything to interfere with that.
There are 4 key points to keep in mind in your pursuit of happiness and becoming the person God created you to be. Once you are aware of these it will require that you make an effort to take action in putting them into practice. This is critical, it’s not enough to just have the knowledge, if you really want to find happiness in your life, you have to be intentional about your efforts to make it happen. The 4 key points are as follows:
- Identify Bondage in your life that is resisting happiness and commit to eliminating it
- Replace bondage with Virtues and practice them daily
- Make time to contemplate your life and find things to be Grateful for
- Be intentional about making progress in your Relationships
Break The Bondage or It Will Break You
Anything that prevents us from being free to love authentically and being our best in thought and behavior is bondage. Bondage is enslavement that keeps us from reaching our goals and becoming the best-version of ourselves. Bondage comes in different shapes and shades, and if we are not careful, it will catch us by surprise and suffocate our aspirations for happiness. It can be negative thoughts about ourselves or others, anxiety and worrying obsessively, the things we keep putting off that we know are good for us, lacking self-control and discipline in our lives, and neglecting to nourish and building great relationships.
The key is awareness, once we identify and acknowledge the bondage that limits us, we must make a commitment to ourselves to make a U turn and take steps to remove them from our lives. Unless you seriously commit to this and not dabble, you will NOT see any significant changes and will stay stuck in the mud pit of unhappiness.
When you find the strength and determination to break the internal chains that are holding you down and keeping you from happiness, you will feel like a free eagle…expanding your wings and soaring to great new heights!!
Strive to Live a Virtuous Life
There is no doubt in my mind that living a virtuous life leads to internal happiness. I believe that we all have the capacity to do good in this world…to do what is honorable and upright. Just think about a time when you “chose” to do what is right and just, an act of love…most likely you felt great inside, and it’s because you were created to be virtuous…it’s an affirmation of WHO you are. Sadly we forget this and then wonder why is it that we feel empty inside and not happy.
In pursuit of living a virtuous life we must practice discipline and self-control. Living a disciplined life will help you to do the things that are “good” for you that will lead to happiness. Self-control will help you to avoid the things that are “not good” for you that will lead to self-sabotage and unhappiness.
One way to apply discipline is in your prayer life and reading scripture and Christian books. If you commit to a scheduled time for prayer, reading and reflection, you will not only be inspired to live a virtuous life, but also gain wisdom on how to achieve happiness in your life. I know that self-control is not a popular word these days, but it’s very powerful and it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I personally believe that a lot of the problems we have in society today is due to a lack of self-control. Practicing self-control trains us to say “no” to short-term gratification that ultimately leaves us feeling “empty” and unhappy.
If you can get yourself to a point where you think virtuous thoughts, and act virtuously, then, you will experience God’s inner peace and happiness that is overflowing and surpasses all understanding.
Gratitude Leads to Happiness
It’s easy to go down the “self-pity” road (especially on Monday’s) and start the day by counting our blames and not our blessings. I’ve done it many times and it just drains me to the point that my entire day just drags…it’s an energy drainer. How we start our day will put us in the right mindset and will dictate how our day turns out. I invite you to give it a try and see what happens!
Start the day by waking up a few minutes earlier than you normally do, and find a quiet place where you can reflect and think about people, experiences, or things you are grateful for and you will find that your heart will expand in gratitude. We all have crosses to carry and challenges to face, but I’m sure we can find something, even if it’s one thing that we can be grateful for. When we make time in the day to think about what we can be grateful for, it gives us a “global” perspective and reminds us of how blessed we are, as well as what really matters in life.
Don’t Underestimate The Power of Relationships
All human beings yearn deep meaningful relationships, it’s so fundamental to our well-being and happiness, but sadly many people are ineffective when it comes to building strong healthy relationships on a personal and professional level. Weak relationships are just dry and disconnected that make us feel empty and lonely. On the flip side, can you think of people you know that have strong great loving relationships? Have you noticed that they seem to be happy and peaceful?
Whether you believe it or not, we were created to be in good relationships to love and be loved, it’s the core of who we are as human beings and when we are not in alignment with that design we will be unhappy. Be intentional about building and nourishing good healthy relationships with the people in your life, don’t settle for average lukewarm. Make time to have quality conversations that demonstrate you really care and want to connect on a personal level. When you take an interest in people and work to make progress in your relationships, you will experience an increase in happiness threefold!
Authentic Happiness is Possible!
True authentic happiness is sustainable and possible for you! It can be achieved if you really desire it. If you are seeking true happiness, make a decision to take action and work on the 4 key points; bondage, virtues, gratitude, and relationships. Remember, the level of happiness in your life is a choice, if you want it, be relentless in pursuing it!