Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

Why Happiness Matters and What I Can Do About It

10 Comments

Austin Botanical Garden 003I bought the book Happier at Home on accident while learning to use my Kindle. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I’d bought the book until a month afterwards, and I didn’t get around to reading it until a year later on a 12 hour plane flight. It struck a chord with me because I believe happiness matters. Of course, real joy that comes from God no matter what I’m going through, but I like the idea that I can proactively invest in my own well-being.

Maybe because we live in the Middle East, I’d never heard of Gretchen Rubin’s first book, The Happiness Project. But Happier at Home ended up being one of the books I enjoyed most last year.

Is it okay to make joy or happiness a priority?

Christians often feel like their own happiness should not be a priority.  We’re taught to put others and their needs first and not think about ourselves. Of course serving is part of being like Jesus; we all need to combat the selfishness that so easily grows within. But we’re sometimes left with a vague feeling of guilt about considering our own needs and happiness.

The importance of caring for ourselves

Serving and caring for others is a top priority. (It also tends to make us happier people!) But ultimately we’re better wives, mothers, employees and friends when we care for ourselves and mindfully consider our own needs. If I keep giving out without putting anything in, my well runs dry and I end up without much to give.

That’s why I loved Happier at Home. Here are the three messages I took away from it:

Gratefulness:  We need to wake up to how happy we already are, and start appreciating our blessings, small and big.

Mindfulness:  Life will pass us by if we let it. It’s a gift to be appreciated, not to be wasted or taken for granted. This includes being fully present to the moments with our loved ones.

Intentionality:  Let’s think about what brings us joy and happiness and make space in our lives for those things, whether it’s buying a new perfume or tackling a household project in order to feel ultimately more peaceful.

The book inspired me to think about a happiness project of my own. Instead of a systematic, well-thought out plan like Gretchen Rubin’s, I just have a brainstorm list.

My Happiness Project:

  • Morning quiet time with God.
  • Learn to knit. (Again.)
  • Write for 25 minutes a day.
  • Read 12 books this year.
  • Go through last year’s digital photos and print some.
  • Date my husband.
  • Play more gin rummy with my son. (Only one more year with him at home.)
  • Hug my daughter and laugh with her more.
  • Call friends without waiting for them to call me because “it’s their turn.”

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you think it’s okay to make happiness a priority in our lives? What is something that makes you happy?

Advertisements

Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

10 thoughts on “Why Happiness Matters and What I Can Do About It

  1. I like your brainstormed list-great ideas, doable, realistic. Some of the things on your list are things I am wanting to be more intentional about too such as playing more games with my son, dating my husband and laughing with my daughter. Many blessings as you walk in faith this year.

  2. Thank you, TJ! Great to hear from you. I’ve got a list, now I’m hoping I’ll get around to it! (Especially the knitting.)

  3. Betsy, I loved Happier at Home! It’s one of my favorite books. I understand your reservations about making happiness a priority sounding un-Christian. But then when we read the book, we love her ideas of making Home a happier place for our families. I enjoyed your review of the book and your take on it. This was another great post!

    • I liked the book too! So refreshing! And do you know a funny thing? When she quoted Samuel Johnson so much, my interest was piqued, and I went back to re-read (first time after high school) Boswell’s Life of Johnson, and it definitely added some happiness to my summer last year. (not for everyone though. :-))

  4. When I think of our Lord’s time on earth I’d say I think he was more happy than sad. Happy believers will likely draw others to them more than complaining or grumpy ones. I wonder how we ‘learned’ that holy and happy do not or should not mix.

    Likewise reading a book about taking a day of rest I find my self pondering why I often feel I need to explain to people [in an apologetic manner] that I’m not as busy as other missionaries or doctors so they can feel free to contact me for advice. I learned my lesson the hard way coming close to burn out-[maybe some denial maybe I did reach that level] and with God’s help backed off to a much healthier place but still I feel the pull to match the unhealthy business of other Christians.

    It can be hard to hear His voice above the physical voices in this life calling for our attention. Family makes me happy and remember why I need to slow down and enjoy them.

    • Wow, Kris! What a great point. It is so true that we tend to “measure” ourselves and our activity by comparing ourselves to others and their activity level. I’ve also pulled back a bit more on activities outside theho me because, as you say I want to avoid burn-out. And because my family needs me more now. But seeing others “busy-ness” can make it hard.

  5. reading your blog makes me happy, Betsy! 😀

    i’m not sure how content i’d be if i make happiness itself a priority. but choosing happiness as an outflow of the gratefulness you describe, and as a response to the amazing grace of God toward me is a healthy thing. and maybe making space in life for the things that God has given us a love for is actually glorifying to Him…it’s a way of enjoying HIM!

    • That’s a good point Barbara. I think happiness is more of a by-product of a balanced life, choices we make, attitudes. And a response to God’s grace, as you say. (And thanks for reading my blog.)

  6. Ooo! I like your list. Knitting makes me happy, too. Will you share your progress here on your blog?

    • Oh! Phyllis, with my “two left hands,” I’m not sure if I dare to post a picture. We’ll have to see. But I still haven’t started. Have the needles. Need to buy yarn.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s