An Overlooked Method For Finding Happiness
Our first snow of the season left a few inches of white covering the grass and the trees. I was driving near my house the next day, and happened to look over to the side of the road. I was awestruck by the gorgeous landscape of trees painted white. The whole scene glowed, the rays of sun that were about to set making the snow glisten and brilliantly shine. I praised God for this and started wondering “how many people missed this?” How many people drove that same stretch of road on that very same afternoon yet completely missed God’s amazing masterpiece?
If we stop and notice, God paints designs in the clouds every single day. He paints a sunrise each morning, a sunset each evening, and a whole landscape of stars every night. All of this is done for His enjoyment and ours. But how many times do we get caught up in the flurry of day-to-day activity and completely miss out and the wonder and the majesty of our creative Creator?
Do we take time to notice God’s love in the smile or kind gesture of a stranger? Do we look at the tiny “coincidences” in our daily lives and see God’s handiwork?
Just as a parent will sometimes slip an “I love you” note into the lunch box of their child, God sends down little blessings to us each and every day, if only we will stop and pay attention to them. The Lord says these encouraging words to us in Isaiah 43:4
“You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” (New Living Translation)
I think being able to find joy in the midst of the ordinary is the secret of contentment. The Apostle Paul had some dreary (and rather unpleasant) living conditions in his jail cell, yet he instructs us:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The Apostle Paul’s advice is supported by the latest scientific research. A study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that counting your blessings, writing letters of gratitude and doing kind things for others brings happiness to those who were depressed. These simple activities “reversed apathy, stimulated the brain’s pleasure circuits, and restored happiness.” Another study, conducted at University of California, Riverside found that performing acts of kindness, like donating clothes to a shelter or writing a note of gratitude boosts your own level of happiness and self-esteem.
As we ring in the New Year, I challenge you to find just five things each day that brings you joy. Write them down in a journal, if you can. Your five things can be big things or small things ~ though I encourage you to look for the small things. You may be surprised, once you start intentionally looking for them, how many little blessings God sends you each and every day! Then, be sure and share your blessings by helping and encouraging others. You yourself will also be blessed and find your spirits have been lifted.