A lot of my colleagues over at Crosswalk are great at coming up with lists of things to do. My buddy Ray Pritchard wrote a great article titled Seven Reasons Not To Speak When You Are Angry. He also came up with 25 Reasons to Give Thanks When You Don’t Feel Like It. Holy Cow. After trying two or three things on the list I start being distracted by shiny objects and squirrels. The most read articles are often 8 ways to do this or 11 ways to do that. So today I tried to come up with my own article featuring a snappy list. So far I have “Six Things I Screwed Up Yesterday Because of My Own Self-Sufficiency” and “Seven Times I Didn’t Tame My Tongue This Week”. Hmmmm. Then I saw an article at Yahoo.com about a scientific study that shows five ways you can be happier. Let’s work with that. Here is part of that article.
Some scientists have argued that happiness is largely determined by genetics, health and other factors mostly outside of our control. But recent research suggests people actually can take charge of their own happiness and boost it through certain practices.
“The billion-dollar question is, is it possible to become happier?” said psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside. “Despite the finding that happiness is partially genetically determined, and despite the finding that life situations have a smaller influence on our happiness than we think they do, we argue that still a large portion of happiness is in our power to change.”
Lyubomirsky spoke here Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She and colleagues last year reviewed 51 studies that tested attempts to increase happiness through different types of positive thinking, and found that these practices can significantly enhance well-being. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
Here are five things that research has shown can improve happiness:
1. Be grateful
2. Be optimistic
3. Count your blessings
4. Use your strengths
5. Commit acts of kindness
Seems like a good list. Where have I seen these things before? Was it in Oprah’s magazine? Reader’s Digest? Wait, it is coming to me now. Wait for it….it was in the Bible! Who knew that the One who created us would know how we could improve our happiness? Here is a little list that I compiled from God’s list.
1. Be thankful – Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3, NLT
2. Be optimistic – “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14, NLT)
3. Count your blessings – Those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Galatians 6, NLT)
4. Use your strengths – Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. (Romans 12, NLT)
5. Commit acts of kindness – Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesian 4, NLT)
The Journal of Clinical Psychology has some good thoughts. But to quote another wise man from the Bible. “Nothing under the sun is truly new”. I would agree with the study that our happiness can be genetically influenced. I have been much happier since my spiritual DNA was rewritten when I trusted Jesus as Savior. I became a new creature on that day. Believing the good news of the Gospel many years ago was the best answer for me to be happier. The other list is icing on the cake.