by: Justin Halbert
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. -John Piper
Recently, I watched a TED talk titled The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Anchor. His premise was that our culture believes that our jobs will bring us happiness and that the more success we gain the happier we will be. But is it possible we have it all wrong? Could our incessant striving for achievement backfire on us?
I think so.
Now before I get into this brief thought, please note that I don’t think that it’s God’s job to make us happy nor is that our main spiritual goal – holiness is as is a proper relationship with Him. I acknowledge that we are God’s characters in the story He is writing for our lives, and we must ask daily how we fit into his plot.
But have you ever prayed for God’s will for something? Should I date this person? Take this job? Move to this place? I often used to fear that if I didn’t do exactly what God wanted me to do then somehow I’d be punished. And, of course, if I was punished that meant God wouldn’t want me to be happy.
But there’s so much more freedom in Christ than that!
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, He commands them to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances because this is what God wants for them.
I was impressed with the TED talk because the principles Anchor was explaining were backed by scientific research, and although I don’t know if he’s a Christian, those principles were exactly what Paul was writing about.
Happiness isn’t contingent on our work or our success – it is something that is practiced, and it is based on gratitude.
I wonder how many of us would be happier if we rejoiced always, prayed and gave thanks continually. Maybe some of us don’t think God wants us happy because we don’t actually do what the He tells us to.
Here are five things Anchor said can make you a happier person regardless of your job or success:
- Gratitude: Be thankful for three new things for 21 days. Your brain begins to write a pattern to see the world more positively.
- Journaling: Write about one positive experience you've had over the last 24 hours teaches your brain to re-live these moments.
- Exercise: Working out teaches your brain that behavior matters.
- Meditation: Meditating teaches you from multi-tasking and increases your focus on the task at hand–such as praying.
- Random Acts of Kindness: 1 positive email thanking somebody.
I encourage you to pick a few of these and commit to them. Start with 21 days, but make these a daily habit if you can. Develop the habit of gratitude and perhaps you’ll see that your work doesn’t define you – what God says about you does. You are loved; you are free to love and to be happy.