Last Tuesday I gave you a look into my background. I told you about how I struggled with depression and explained why. Today I want to tell you how I was able, through God’s help to pull myself out of depression and finally to find happiness and joy in a less than ideal situation.
When I found out that I was pregnant just a few months ago, call it hormones or maybe just my situation, but I suddenly felt like I had put on a pair of dark glasses that turned my world gray and dreary. I had been in this dark place before and certainly didn’t want to go back. After just a few days of feeling this way and realizing that part of it was feeling lonely due to my family situation, I smacked myself upside the head.
I took a good hard look at myself and the attitude I had towards my situation. Yes, I was lonely. Yes, I was hurt because of all that had happened. Yes, I missed my big, once happy family, but that was no reason to be moping around having a pity party for myself.
It was time to move on. It was time to let the past go, and enjoy the life that I had. Yes, there were relationship problems that I couldn’t do anything about, but there were also those that I could rebuild.
I told myself as I sat on my couch, sick with nausea, that I was going to make the most of this situation. I was going to learn to be happy.
1. They are thankful.
In the past, I had a habit of writing down 5 things I was grateful for before starting my day. It had helped tremendously with my anxiety and was a habit that I felt might help me have more joy.
I posted something that I was grateful for on FB one day, explaining how having a positive attitude that day had helped me be more joyful. A friend ended up reaching out, telling me that there was a book she thought I would love to read. She bought it for me.
The book gave me so much insight into joy starting with gratitude. It lead me to ask the question, where does my bitterness and lack of joy come from? To answer that question, it comes from a lack of gratitude. It comes from the opposite of gratitude.
The opposite of gratitude is expecting more. It’s the idea that we deserve more than what life has handed to us. It’s the idea that God is unjust in a certain situation, that He should do more for us, that He shouldn’t have allowed that to happen to us.
When I took a good hard look into my heart, I knew this was true for me. I tend to ask “why?” in just about every situation. Why don’t you heal my Dad when I know you are capable? Why have you allowed my family to fall apart God?
When we choose to be thankful for ALL things that are given to us, a magical thing happens. We find joy. It’s not an easy thing to do though.
2 They are Factual.
When I made the choice to learn to be happy, I decided that one way that I would learn was by observing people who were happy. In a conversation one day with a friend who’s brother had died of cancer at just 11 years old, I had the opportunity to ask her.
“Do you ever ask God why?” Her response surprised me. Not because she said no, but the reason she could say no.
“It’s the world we live in”, she said.
“People die every day of diseases and cancer. Why would I think that I shouldn’t be one who has to deal with it in my life?”
I was beyond inspired by the way she stated it. It was just a fact to her. How much happier could I be if I adopted that same factual response?
What if I could say, “My dad had a brain hemorrhage”. What if I could just shrug and say, “These things happen, it’s part of life”. What if there was no fighting in me? No inward rebellion against the things that had happened in my life.
What if I could just accept the facts as they were and choose to make the most of the life that I have? Wouldn’t I be happier?
3. They Accept the Facts
It wasn’t until months later that I realized that facing the reason behind my lack of joy (Mostly my situation with my family) was what got me headed down the right path. I can explain it better by asking you a question: If you aren’t happy, why aren’t you? What is the root cause of your lack of joy?
For me, it was my attitude with where my family was. My attitude was that of hurt and a need to know the reason why. Why did my dad have to be sick? Why did other people make the decisions that they did? Decisions that in the end hurt me. Why?
When my mindset shifted away from that, “why” and instead to an acceptance and factual response to the situation around me, I was able to let the situation just be.
Letting something just be, not having to fix it, not trying to understand how they could do this to me, that is acceptance. And with acceptance comes peace.
How do we expect to be happy when we are restless and fighting against things that we can’t change? We can’t be. Think about it, does it do you any good to be angry with your two year old for making a mess, or getting mad because you have to clean up your dog’s poop (potty training a puppy has been a doozy for us) for the umpteenth time?
Whether you are angry or not, you are still going to have to face the situation. Kids make messes, dogs poop on the floor, families have fights and people die of diseases. They are just facts and the sooner we are able to accept them, the sooner we will find peace which gives us the ability to be happy people.
4. They Have a Child-like Belief in God.
There is this woman I know who is always so happy and pleasant. What was it about her that she is able to be so happy and pleasant to everyone? I was dying to know.
I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions one day. I told her about how I was seeking to have more joy in my life and asked her how she managed to be so happy all the time. I remember her saying something about being thankful, but I believe her ability to be thankful came from something deeper.
Her mom had passed away from cancer a few years back. I couldn’t see in her spirit even an once of bitterness at losing her mom. She told me about how her mom had prayed for certain things for years after her mom passed away, those things ended up happening.
I think I would have bitterly asked “why?” if it had been my mom who passed away and wasn’t able to see the answers to her prayers, but this women only said she wished her mom could be there to see it, and how happy she would have been.
I saw something in her that I had never seen in a lot of people. She had a child-like belief in God and his goodness. She could be thankful because she had a factual view of life and had accepted those facts, which gave her the ability to believe that God was good. All. The. Time. Even in the bad things that happened to her, God was still good to her.
5. They are Peaceful.
When you can see life in a factual way, accept those facts just as they are, you can be thankful even if the cards that were dealt to you were unpleasant ones. When you do those three things, you can see God as the loving Father that He is, and this, brings peace.
Peaceful people are happy people because they aren’t fighting against things they can’t change. When your heart is completely at rest, your heart is completely happy.
When your heart is free of an inner struggle you bring peace even to the people around you. I’m much more likely to get into an argument with my husband if there is a struggle going on in my heart. I’m much more likely to have a negative attitude towards life and the people around me when I’m dealing with inner turmoil.
Finding peace in a less than ideal world can be hard. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you are able to look at the root issue of your lack of joy and deal with those issues one thing at a time, you will get there.