The holidays provide a great time for many people to feel a heightened sense of happiness. There’s something about being with family and friends and recalling the benefits of the year that tends to boost our spirits and we feel a deeper sense of joy and gratitude.
For Christians, happiness should be a more constant sense that can transcend circumstances and events and sustains us apart from yearly celebrations. Joy is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Bible declares “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord”. (Psalm 144:15, NKJV). Clearly, God wants His kids to be happy.
But happiness impacts us beyond our mere emotions. It provides a boost to our bodies that may be measured even beyond the generic level. You’ve probably read that “A merry heart does good like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, NKJV), but apparently there are conditions to this promise. The most beneficial effect is realized if happiness results from unselfish actions.
For example, just going out to have a “good time” may or may not result in happiness. In one study, joy gained through self-gratification produced increased inflammation in research participants, while happiness achieved by a giving attitude and generous actions toward others lowered inflammation levels and improved the kind of gene expression that battles invading microbes.
In spite of the many challenges we all face in life, we can still take practical steps to maximize joy in our lives. Here are a few we can use to maximize happiness in our lives right now.
1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE. All of us, regardless of our current circumstances, have things for which we can be thankful. Why not write them down on a regular basis, and soon you’ll become more aware of the blessings you have in your life.
2. SMILE MORE. Maybe you don’t feel like smiling, but even a forced smile dupes your brain into thinking you’re happy. It then complies by ramping up your immune system and triggering chemicals that relieve stress and make you feel better – among other benefits.
3. EXERCISE. Maybe the “E” word makes you cringe, but there’s no need to panic. It’s not necessary for you to run a marathon to benefit. Just doing some simple activities like gardening for 20 or 30 minutes can greatly improve your mindset.
4 HARNESS MUSIC. Listening to, or humming hymns or upbeat classical music has great cheering power that can rapidly improve your mood. Already feeling good? Follow this counsel, “...Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13, NJKV).
5. FOLLOW JESUS’ EXAMPLE. Yes, Jesus was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3, NKJV) – as we often are – He didn’t remain in a state of sadness. He always looked to His Father for positive guidance and turned His attention to others in need.
“Be of good cheer” was one of Jesus’ hallmark phrases
(Matthew 9:2, 22; 14:27; John 16:33.
Ask Him today to help you find more joy in your world – and you may well reap greater physical, emotional, and spiritual health for your daily living.
Thanks to Laurie Lyon for help with this article.
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