Core 52

Day 3 of 5 • This day’s reading


The Key to Happiness

What father doesn’t want his kids to be happy? Perhaps you’ve heard, “God doesn’t want you to be happy; he wants you to be holy!” On the surface that sounds reasonable. However, it contains a fatal flaw. It assumes happiness and holiness are opposites. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Holiness and happiness go hand in hand most of the time.

The Bible hasn’t been particularly timid on the topic: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1). “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). “We consider those blessed [happy] who remained steadfast” (James 5:11). The entire book of Ecclesiastes is a treatise on happiness, and Proverbs is a happiness handbook of sorts. So it can be misleading at best to say God desires your obedience more than your happiness. Obedience to God fosters our happiness! 

Psalm 1 is the single most important passage in the Bible on happiness. It opens with the key word blessed—the Bible’s term for “happy”: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (verse 1). If your ambition is a blessed life, Psalm 1 is the starting line. 

Psalm 1 rightly addresses our own choices as more important than our circumstances. Written three thousand years ago, it gives us a clear process for building the blessed life: (1) Foster relationships with people who honor the Lord. (2) Create space in your brain for truths of God’s Word. (3) Serve others in significant ways. 

It’s that simple and that effective. The small things you do today can increase happiness. A note of gratitude to a friend, five minutes of meditation, or a random act of kindness can release chemicals of happiness in your brain. The secret to happiness is in micromoments that turn into habits. Habits, continued over a lifetime, become a biography with a very happy ending. 

While genetics accounts for 50 percent of the variability in happiness, circumstances account for only 10 percent— leaving a whopping 40 percent of our happiness to the choices we make. What are three choices you could make this week that would increase your happiness, even if your circumstances don’t change?