Happiness is a choice we should all make

By Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist

It has been said, “The happiest heart is one that beats for others.” I agree.

Preoccupied with oneself brings selfish misery. I’ve also heard that when a baby is born his or her little fists are clinched and they are crying. But when one dies their hands are open and others are crying.

The importance of leaving good memories cannot be overstated.
When my children left the nest I had a hard time. A friend said to me, “In order to keep them you have to let them go.” Through the years I have come to know a wonderful truth… “you only get to keep what you give away.”

I learned this truth from my career of 31 years of teaching children. They have given me so much to keep because they gave themselves unconditionally. Their transparent childlike trust, forgiveness and love gave me a lot to treasure. They gave me a child’s heart and I am forever grateful.

So how do we give ourselves away? For starters we “count others’ interest above our own.” “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others” (Philippians 2:4 NCV). Giving a helping hand to someone in need brings a warm, happy feeling back to you and the blessing “blesses the blesser.”

Overlook offenses. Trying to get even only brings turmoil. Learning to forgive whether the offender asks for forgiveness or not gives you peace and you can go on with life. To do otherwise brings unrest and can even affect health. Forgiveness is the only antidote for revenge. Besides that, unforgiveness brings high stress levels. I once heard about a doctor who wrote on a patient’s death certificate, “grudgitis.” Forgiveness adds to your years. “My son, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long good life” (Proverbs 5:10 TLB).

Wake up! You’re alive in a beautiful world. Nature’s wonder is spectacular. Go for a walk. Listen to the birds sing. Greet everyone with a smile. “Happiness makes a person smile, but sadness can break a person’s spirit” (Proverbs 15:13 NCV). So let’s be joyful. “ … for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 TLB).

Avoid negativity! The world has enough problems without negative responses.

When I catch my husband being negative, I say, “You are polluting my atmosphere with negativity.” He laughs and changes his speech.

Sometimes he has to say that to me too.

The point is, to make it a point to be positive! “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14 NIV).

Happiness is a choice. Each day you have that privilege. You can be happy because “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13 NIV). Stinking thinking is the pits!

Reject negative thoughts. “You might get trapped by what you say, you might be caught by your own words” (Proverbs 6:2 (NCV). Replace each negative thought with a positive one. Do that for 30 days. You’ll be surprised by the outcome and the way you see life.

Realize you have an “x” amount of time on earth. Make it count. Lose yourself in life for others. Live life to the fullest. Embrace it with open arms. Fill your heart with God’s love. Recognize that the world will still go on without you and that makes today a special happy day of living.

Jesus gave his life for you to have the abundant life. Praise him and live happy today! It just doesn’t get any better than that and guess what? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!