Happiness is serious business in America.
Our Declaration of Independence says it plainly: We all have the right to pursue happiness. And pursue it we do. We leave no stone unturned in our search for true happiness.
People marry because they’re happy and divorce because they’re not. Advertisers promise happiness to us if we’ll just buy their car, their beer, or their latest technological gadget.
But do we ever stop and ask ourselves – as believers who live in a land of abundance and opportunity, and who have virtually every material blessing right at our fingertips – why are so many of us miserable?
What are we missing?
I believe it’s truth.
Healthy people live in truth. They’re able to embrace both the good and the bad of reality. Another term for it would be “wholeness,” and it’s a prerequisite for happiness. You can’t be truly happy if your heart is routinely focused on how you wish things were instead of embracing how they actually are.
Which brings me to three common lies that prevent people from enjoying authentic happiness.
The first lie is that life should be easy and fair. Take a look at the world around you. The fact that life isn’t easy or fair ought to be one of the most obvious truths we can believe. Jesus even tells us pointedly, “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). But because we believe the lie that life should be easier than it is, we get disappointed, frustrated, or even protest angrily when things don’t go our way.
The second lie is that we should be better than we are. We struggle against our limitations. Our mistakes often become life-defining. We think, “What’s wrong with me? I should be better than this.” Many of us believe we should have no weaknesses, no failures, and make no mistakes. But we’ll never be happy if we believe we can and should be perfect.
Of course, God can use our weaknesses as opportunities to help us grow and strengthen areas of our lives. But if we believe the second lie, our efforts will devolve into a game of spiritual Whack-A-Mole. You conquer one weakness and five more appear.
We will always have weaknesses. Believing the lie that, “I should be better than I am. I should have no weaknesses. I should have no failures. I shouldn’t make any mistakes,” will keep us stuck in unhappiness.
The third lie is that we deserve more than we have. We think we deserve a better job, a better home, or a better _____ (fill in the blank). Happiness is rooted in gratitude for what we already have. If we believe that we deserve more, we’re never going to be happy because, ultimately, more is never enough.
If those three ideas about creating happiness are lies, then their opposites are true. Learn to accept that life isn’t fair and easy. We should work to improve ourselves, but accept that we’ll never be perfect. And learn to be grateful for what we already have.
How do we do that?
Our guest on today’s program, Leslie Vernick, will help us answer that question and clear up a lot of other confusion about what happiness is and what it isn’t. She’s a counselor, a life coach, and an author. Our team had the opportunity to do an offsite recording with Leslie in Pennsylvania where she lives, and I think you’ll benefit greatly from the insights she has to share.