There are plenty of reasons to be unhappy, frustrated, and upset. My list in the last couple weeks includes a clogged drain, being the victim of a crime, a friend fighting cancer, Ferguson, ISIS, and what they’ve done with The Hobbit.
Some of the frustrations in my life—like clogged drains—bring to mind a phrase from C.S. Lewis: “…the cursed animosity of inanimate objects.”
Others make me consider the “cursed animosity” of people, which is much, much worse, of course.
I know I need to do what I can to bring order to disorder, reconciliation to ruptured relationships, and perspective to panic. And I am learning about the frequent need to lament, (despite its rarity in our culture).
But most of the time, I (and probably you, too) make one of two mistakes.
The first mistake is to submit to all the unhappiness, frustration, and conflict. I take it in. I load it upon myself. I don’t allow myself to be happy. How could I?, I think, with all this going on?
The second mistake is to fear comparisons to others. I think this might be a product of my upper-Midwest, northern European lineage. If I am happy, I must hide it. Because if I’m happy, and someone else is unhappy, frustrated, or upset, I may make them feel worse.
These two mistakes can lead to me just complaining to others, indulging each other’s woe-is-me attitude. This helps neither me nor anyone else I interact with. (Real lament is another story, but that’s another article.)
But there is another way.
Today, I spent some time taking stock of my life. I just had a great weekend of rest and fun with my family. My kids got excellent comments on their report cards. I am healthier than I’ve been in years, with sweet new red running shoes. My work is interesting and rewarding. I’m fresh off a great trip meeting fascinating colleagues from around the world.
In short, I have plenty of reasons to be happy. To focus on all the problems around me is to miss the good that is present in my life today.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
And to not notice the good that is present is to not give thanks for it.
So today, and this year, and in this life, I look around, I notice, I give thanks, and I am happy.
What do you do to be happy?