Make Happy Happen

Max LucadoBy Max Lucado5 Minutes

Excerpt taken from How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado.

Chapter 1
The Unexpected Door to Joy

How long has it been since you felt a level of contagious, infectious, unflappable, unstoppable happiness? For many, perhaps most of us, the answer is “Well, it’s been a while. I used to be happy, but then life took its toll.”

“The disease took my health.” “The economy took my job.” “The jerk took my heart.”

Something pilfered our happiness. It can seem such a fragile thing, this joy. Here one day. Tomorrow scattered by the winds of a storm.

Still we keep searching for it, longing for it, this sense of contentment and well-being. Worldwide, people profess that happiness is their most cherished goal. Magazine covers promise everything from sexual happiness to financial contentment. I googled happy hour, and in one second, 75 million options invited my click.

Marketing companies get this. Television commercials make grand promises: Want to be happy? Buy our hand cream. Want some joy? Sleep on this mattress. Desire a dose of delight? Eat at this restaurant, drive this car, wear this dress.

Happiness. Everyone craves it. And everyone benefits from it. Happy people enjoy higher odds of a strong marriage, lower odds of divorce, and superior work performance. They are also healthier. In one study researchers found a correlation between happiness and fatter pocketbooks. Others indicated that happy people are more effective leaders than Debbie Downers. Happiness, it turns out, helps everyone.

But fewer people are finding it. Only one-third of Americans surveyed said they were happy. Smiles are in short supply. By some estimates, clinical depression is 10 times more rampant now than it was a century ago.

What’s up? How do we explain the gloom? While the answers are varied and complex, among them must be this idea: We are using the wrong door.

The oft-used front door to happiness is the one described by the advertising companies: acquire, retire, and aspire to drive faster, dress trendier, and drink more. Happiness happens when you lose the weight, get the date, find the mate, or discover your fate. It’s wide, this front door to happiness. Yet for all its promise, it fails to deliver.

There is another option. It requires no credit card, monthly mortgage, or stroke of fortune. It demands no airline tickets or hotel reservations. Age, ethnicity, and gender are not factors. You don’t have to change jobs, change cities, change looks, or change neighborhoods. But you might need to change doors.

The motto on the front door says, “Happiness happens when you get.”

The sign on the lesser-used back door counters, “Happiness happens when you give.”

The words of Jesus are spot-on: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Because when you do, it has a boomerang effect. Happiness happens when we give it away.

This is such great news. You can’t control your genetics. You aren’t in charge of the weather, the traffic, or the occupant of the White House. But you can lower the anger level in your city. You can lighten the load and brighten the day of other human beings. And don’t be surprised when you begin to sense a newfound joy yourself.

In the entryway is Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was accused of much, but He was never ever described as a grump, sourpuss, or self-centered jerk. He spoke words of resounding affirmation.

His purpose statement reads, “I came to give life with joy and abundance” (John 10:10 VOICE). Jesus was happy and wants us to be the same.

Excerpt from How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado. Copyright 2019 Max Lucado. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

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