"Are you happy?"
Most often it is asked by women who are experiencing challenges in their lives and are considering making life changing decisions. Some are thinking about a career transition, but many are considering relationship changes such as ending a dating relationship or perhaps their marriage. Others may even be pondering entering into a new relationship. In an attempt to answer their question, I used to explain my version of happiness. Once I discovered their inquiry really wasn't about me, I began to answer the question with a question.
I can remember when I struggled with similar thoughts mainly before I made the decision to divorce and before I made the commitment to remarry.
Many songs have been written about the topic, my favorite being "Don't Worry, Be Happy". What's funny is that those are the only words I can remember. Seems like Bob Marley just whistled a happy tune and then sang "Don't worry, be happy."
What is Happiness?
Wikipedia defines happiness as "a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy." Happiness has been defined in biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical terms, most focusing on what a person has or an emotion deriving from a source. Even the Declaration of Independence indicates the "pursuit of happiness" is our fundamental right as citizens.
Psalms 1: 1-2 ESV says, "The truly happy person doesn't follow wicked advice, doesn't stand on the road of sinners, and doesn't sit with the disrespectful. Instead of doing these things, these persons love the Lord's instruction and they recite God's instruction day and night!. They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time and whose leaves don't fade. Whatever they do succeeds."
Now that's a different definition. So as I understand it, happiness is when you don't listen to bad advice and don't hang around with people who are disrespectful and engage in wrongful behavior. Instead, happiness is achieved by seeking Godly advice and making good decisions.
Looking back, as I struggled with marital decisions, listening to the wrong people resulted in sadness and strife, whereas when I sought Godly advice and made my own decisions based on prayer and biblical teaching, I was much more successful.
If you are struggling with the question of happiness, I recommend you speak with someone who understands happiness is not about what you have, but happiness is achieved by your actions and who you are hanging out with and listening to. Don't seek advice from someone who is miserable. Remember, misery loves company. Instead seek out happy people.
One question for you... ARE YOU HAPPY?