People often say that happiness is different for everyone, but that’s actually misguided… misguided being a nice way of saying “Ehn, you’re wrong.” People enjoy doing different things. Like in January I was working on my book and it was the best month I’ve had in a long time. I felt alive and everything I was doing was really just in the way of me doing what I wanted to do, work on my book. I still made sure to do my responsibilities (ticking off my wife wouldn’t help my cause of feeling happy), but writing helped me feel good. I wasn’t screaming like a drunk person at a club who hears their favourite song: (drunk person) “I love this song!!” (sober friend) “The music’s stopped; that’s just the ringing in your ears.” (drunk person) “It’s like wedding bells!” I wasn’t even nonstop smiling: (smiling person) “If I always smile, people get scared.” I just felt good. My wife? Couldn’t care less about writing. We like doing different things, but happiness comes from the same place: feeling content. It’s good to have dreams, but we need to be content with what we have and where we are in our journey. Happiness isn’t a destination… to use a cliché… and it’s not about being overjoyed – that’s called a high for a reason – but the key to being content is ultimately one thing: being thankful. Over the last couple years of my blog I have emphasized the importance of being thankful, which is helped by having a thankful journal, but I had a new realization this week in regards to it. In case you’re not familiar, a thankful journal is taking time every day to acknowledge the little things for which you’re thankful in that day. I have an actual calendar I write in every day to keep a record. I started with doing 5 things everyday then moved to 8 and now I do 10. Yes, I write really small to fit it in the calendar box. It’s cool because at the end of the year I have a calendar full of things I was daily thankful for, which helps life seem better. Even in my rough patches I’ll write things I’m thankful for, which helps fight the negative thoughts and give me a better memory of the experience. For instance, the other week someone was not happy with my post. The old me would’ve obsessed over someone not being happy with me, but beyond an apology and personal message to the person, I tried to focus on being thankful that she read it and challenged me to re-examine what I wrote. This time next year, I’ll feel even better about it because I put in the time and effort to see the good in it.
Being thankful is a 2000 year old concept that has been reintroduced by modern psychologists and more importantly, Oprah… yeah, Oprah likes it so it must be good. When talking about thankfulness I often quote 1 Thessalonians because the Apostle Paul wrote: “Be thankful in all circumstances…” This is brilliant if you want to find contentment and ultimately be happier. Someone recently challenged me about why I’m thankful to God because how can I know if God’s the reason these things even happened? What if He didn’t give any of it to me or what if He doesn’t even care? Those are some tough questions to answer. I could go churchy and quote the Bible, “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” (James 1:17) but that wouldn’t mean anything to this person because he’s not a believer. And that’s when I realized, by thinking God’s done the good things for me I write in my calendar, I feel happier. It doesn’t matter if He wanted me to sleep in or watch an episode of Brooklynn Nine Nine, two things that have often made my thankful list, because I’m thankful to Him, which makes me feel like He cares about me and wants good things in my life. I don’t have to be right in thanking Him; I’m thankful to God because it’s better for me. If it’s true, God has given me these things like I want to believe, this just makes this action all the better. If I want to be happier, I need to focus on being thankful and if being thankful to God helps me feel even happier, then that’s just a logical thing to do.
This week may you find the joy of thankfulness.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people