Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking that "I would be happy if.....?" Maybe it is a new car, a new spouse, a new house, that nifty flatscreen TV or whatever. "I would be happy if..." robs us of happiness today and defines happiness by our circumstances, our possessions or some external factor in our lives when happiness can only come from the inside! As soon as our happiness is defined by external things we are robbed of the ability to live in happiness every day.
Relying on the external for the core joy and happiness of our lives is the reason so many people chase after stuff, experiences and even sin at the expense of a relationship with Jesus which is the true source of joy and happiness. "I would be happy if...." is an empty promise! As soon as one attains that thing that will supposedly make us happy, the goal line changes and we find another "I would be happy if...." When our joy and happiness comes from within (and from God) we have the real deal and no one can rob us of it.
Joyful living is a gift of the Holy Spirit (one of the fruits of the Spirit) and it is a choice that each of us make every day. As a gift of the Spirit it is available to us at any time, regardless of our circumstances. That does not mean we don't wish some things were different in our lives or hope they will be different someday. It does mean that we choose a posture of joy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves because we are intentionally walking with God and conscious of His provision, care, and love.
A key to joyful living is the fostering of an ongoing spirit of thanksgiving to God for all of His blessings. Numerous times in the New Testament or Psalms we are told to be people of thanks and to live with an attitude of thanks. "Thank you Jesus" ought to be the mantra of our days. The more thankful we are the more joy we possess because thankfulness leads to a joyful heart.
It is an irony that many of the most joyful and happy people I have met are those who have suffered the most. Their circumstances did not determine their joy, their relationship with God did. Any of you who have been in the presence of Joni Eareckson Tada know exactly what I mean. Joy radiates from her paraplegic body and her singing, smile and words of encouragement infect all around her. But she would be the first to tell you it is a daily choice and not always an easy one.
In the next 24 hours, simply live in a spirit of thanksgiving and see what it does for your happiness factor.