It’s a funny thing, happiness. Sometimes seeming so elusive to me, yet occasionally I see other people who seem to have happiness as almost a constant companion. Then I wonder, what is their secret? Often, I don’t even realize that I am not happy until I recognize that I feel unhappy and am suffocating in negative thoughts.
In Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz shares that Dr. John A. Schindler’s definition of happiness is, “A state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.”
Ok, ok…. me too! When I first read that, I thought to myself that’s ridiculous. I didn’t even underline it, just kind of snickered to myself and read on. It was only 2 pages later, that the same comment was made, just in this manner: Happiness is simply a “state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.” Literally, I was like how profound! Then it dawned on me, I just read that; I immediately turned back to find it, and I underlined it. How funny that a different lead in could make such a difference in how it impacted me.
How could my impression of that simple little definition change so abruptly? Well, as I read, my little ‘filing cabinet guy’ (story to follow in a bit) ran around and pulled out memories for me of instances where this was truth. And then when I re-read the same thing in a different manner, it clicked how true it is!
My little filing cabinet guy brought forth a memory from about 8 years ago. I don’t recall where we were, but it was a place that wasn’t ‘kid friendly’ and I had four little ones that were past the point of patience. The girls were about 3, which would make Michael about 8 years old. Obviously 3-year-old triplets and an 8-year-old being ‘done’ meant that my endurance was nearing its end as well. Suddenly I jumped up, placed myself in a spot and created a circle of us facing each other. The kids looked at me as if I was crazy, but I gave no option of joining or not. I began, “If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands”; at first the response was a bit forced, and the attitudes were still close to tears. But then as the song progressed to “your face will surely show it” I made a goofy face. Suddenly giggles erupted. I don’t know if Katie, Destiny, Zoey or Michael recall that day and how much fun we ended up having, but it certainly created a happy memory for me. Our thinking went to pleasant thoughts as we acted out in happiness until we actually felt happy.
Today, that memory came literally because of the phrase “your face will surely show it”. Somehow that popped into my head when I read that description of happiness. It is pretty well impossible to feel miserable when you are surrounded by the smiling faces of toddlers as they joyously mimic you in a goofy song that is so much closer to the truth than we realize – your face shows your feelings. Jorjia speaks of it in her blog from Sept. 2017 ‘What Are You Smiling About?’, when she speaks of sharing a smile.
I began writing this blog this morning as I flew to Los Angeles. I happened to be blessed to sit next to a gentleman that spoke to me part way through the flight, complimenting me on how nice and helpful he had observed me being. Then we also spoke of the book I was reading and about happiness itself. He mentioned how good it felt to be happy and to make others around you happy. I agreed. Happiness does seem to be contagious.
But, I did promise to tell you about the ‘filing cabinet guy’ that I spoke of? Well, in Magic of Thinking Big written by Dr. David J. Schwartz; he actually refers to the character as a banker- that puts negative or positive deposits and withdrawals in your memories according to your view of various events. I guess I kind of took that image and morphed him into a little guy that runs around pulling files of memories to share with us when certain things trigger them. So, even as silly as the picture of that may be, it is in effect a simplified version of how our neuropathways recall visual data when given defined parameters.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Maltz goes on to share that Dr. Schindler has said that unhappiness is the sole cause of all psychosomatic ills and that happiness is the only cure. The very word “disease” means a state of unhappiness— “dis-ease.”
I read that, and it was mind blowing! Initially I was ‘hmmm’ then ‘wow’ then as it fully exploded like Disney fireworks against the beautiful night sky, I was ‘WOW’!!
My negative thoughts create unhappiness which can result in negative physical and mental symptoms!
Imagine. Imagine if we could be healthier by being happier. Imagine if happiness is within our control. Imagine if happiness were literally a state of mind, an existence we placed ourselves into.
But seriously, isn’t that just some mumbo-jumbo ‘self-help’ kind of sales talk?
Is it? Is it really?
Proverbs 15:13 – A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is crushed.
Dr. Maltz also quoted Abraham Lincoln, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Hmmmm, both of the above statements tie together, making me think a bit deeper.
For example, when I consider how our actions changed our ‘happiness’ then look at the scripture with the glad heart vs. sorrow of heart, then mix in Abe’s comment… I suddenly begin to see, the answer to my dilemma, is me.
It all begins with self. The circumstances don’t have to dictate how I feel and respond.
One thing that I felt was an essential tool in the belt of a healthy outlook on life that Dr. Maltz explained, was intentional practice. Being aware of my environment and factors that may cause me to feel my happiness slip away, and intentionally holding on to it. Acting happy even if I don’t feel it, because that action can generate the proper outcome.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean to become completely oblivious to our circumstances or surroundings, but it does mean not to dwell in them and feel such despair, or to shut out the world and drown in loneliness.
In fact, I actually had something happen last night while I was here in California that ties directly into this topic. Pastor Erwin McManus, from Mosaic did an incredible talk, explaining how hard we try to fill that aching spot in our heart that is crying out for Jesus. He explained how sad and lonely we often feel, until we invite Jesus in.
After his talk, I was extraordinarily blessed to be able to speak with a young lady from Quebec Canada. She described feeling that exact same loneliness and unhappiness, even in a crowd. We prayed together, and she chose to invite Jesus into her life. Watching the transformation was indescribable. She told me she felt lighter and happier. I am so excited for her and her future. I was honored to be there with her.
Not everyone will have the same experience coming to faith, which I think is awesome, because not everyone has the same walk prior to faith. I also believe that my relationship with Jesus is personal, so the fact that it is tailored personally to me is also something I believe.
And I have to say, the happiness I saw on her face was radiant!!
If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, or if you have questions, feel free to contact us. Also, I think that everyone can take something away from the talk Pastor Erwin did on March 30, 2018. Watch for it to come out on YouTube.
Remember John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whomever believes in Him will have eternal life.
And also 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have gone; the new is here!
So, go out there, choose to be happy, entertain happy thoughts, make happiness contagious! And know that the first step may need to be intentional and often starts with getting that God-shaped hole in your heart taken care of!
Let’s spread the happiness and love, Amy