Happiness Coaching. No Charge. You’re Welcome.

The Wall Street Journal reported that more and more employers are enlisting happiness coaches. Love that image.

“Line-up for smile drills. Jones, why are you frowning? Give me 25 guffaws pronto!”

The actual concept is a trainer or speaker who will teach you how to practice new behaviors, cheer up and stop stressing out.

The Journal notes that the methods these trainers teach differ from the skills coaches usually promote, such as advancing your career or learning teamwork. Instead, they draw on psychological research and ancient religious traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity – of which there is plenty in today’s workplace. Employees are urged to meditate, send daily e-mails thanking their co-workers for things, write in a journal about things they’re grateful for or help someone without expecting anything in return.

It seems I have read a lot of those ideas in a text once…what is called…oh yeah…the Gospels. Okay, the e-mails weren’t mentioned by Jesus but I think He taught the rest of the course.

Srikumar Rao is known as the happiness guru. I would love to be a guru but I am afraid I would be the “Dad Joke Guru” so I think I’ll pass. Mr. Rao teaches people to stop jumping to conclusions and labeling everything that happens to them either a “bad thing” or a “good thing.” If your job is changed in a corporate reorganization, instead of concluding that’s a bad thing, tell yourself it could be good or bad in the long run, and there is no way to know right away.

Hmmmmm. That feels a lot like Paul’s word to the believers in Rome about all things working together for good for those who love God. Our culture has decided that happiness can be found in power, prestige and especially money.

Writer Albert Camus said that, “It is a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.” To slightly modify an old Paul McCartney and Wings lyric…”I’m so sorry, Uncle Albert…but you haven’t learned a bloody thing at all.”

I have been on both sides of the money thing. And I can tell you without reservation and snobbery free that money is unrelated to happiness. Happiness is seeing my wife at the end of a long day. Enjoying dinner with my wonderful sons (and daughter in laws). Laughing with friends. Being greeted by a Labrador Retriever that thinks I am the greatest human being.


Happiness is watching a baby toddle. A child smile. An elderly couple look at one another with that look that only decades can develop. Happiness is seeing the sun rise and hearing the birds welcome that sight. Happiness is connecting with the one who made me. That is what I was created for and my happiness is found in the simplest things of life. There is joy all around us. I choose to look for those things. Happiness is often a choice. Yet life happens and happiness can be a bit harder to choose.

In his letter to the church at Corinth Paul made the amazing statement that “I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles.” (2 Cor 7:4, The Message)

Where does that attitude come from? I can guarantee it doesn’t come from money. Money cannot buy happiness. Because we can “rent” what appears to be happiness for a season our culture confuses money with real happiness.

Thomas Wolfe reached the same conclusion as King Solomon in Ecclesiastes. Wolfe wrote that “Man was born to live, to suffer, and to die, and what befalls him is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it along the way.”

Mr. Wolfe is a brilliant writer and man. But he stopped a bit short of truth in my opinion. Man is born to live. A fallen world will produce suffering for all of us along the way. Dying is a pretty safe assumption. And tragedy does befalls most of us. I don’t deny a thing that Wolfe said except that we must deny those things. I choose to embrace life. I accept suffering because I am in relationship with a God who understands suffering and offers comfort that is inexplicable. I have looked tragedy in the face and found peace.

Paul wrote these amazing words to the church in Corinth. He asked God to remove an affliction. And then he received this insight.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (I Corinthians 12, NIV)

His grace is sufficient. And that makes me happy every day no matter what that day might bring.