What Makes You Happy?

Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” – Psalm 144:15

Browsing in a gift shop yesterday, I came upon a wall of rustic wood signs hand-painted with inspirational sayings. Trendy and very tempting, yes, but who among us hasn’t had this thought—why spend $25 when I could do that myself? I remembered I had some scrap wood laying about and even began dreaming up catchy names for an Etsy shop. As I took stock of my possibilities, however, I realized that I lacked paint, stain, the right brushes, hardware for hanging, workspace, time, and calligraphic skill.

Faced with my clearcut deficiencies, I sank back to earth and returned to reading the assorted clever sayings and cliches displayed before me. My attention was drawn to the message painted on one especially winsome square fashioned from rough-hewn pine planks—“Do what makes you happy.”

Now this was an arresting thought which gave rise to quite a few questions to ponder on the drive home. Was it true or false? Good advice or bad? Should I do what makes me happy? Does God want me to do what makes me happy? Do I usually do what makes me happy? What does make me happy?

I arrived home, put on the tea kettle, and thinking that a piece of high quality dark chocolate might provide some happiness, reached into the bag of Dove squares and found this bit of advice inside the wrapper : “Pack your rose-colored glasses.” I immediately understood that a treasure trove of wisdom awaited. In my quest for truth I unwrapped—and then ate —square after square. Each piece of candy counseled me on a different course of action that would presumably lead to happiness:

“Kiss and Tell.” Really? I’d be glad to oblige, but even with rose-colored glasses on there really is nothing to see here. After 36 years of marriage we are usually talking about three daily obligatory pecks: Have a good day, how was your day, and good night, dear.

“Take a Ride with the Top Down” The closest I can come to being this carefree, wild, and cool is to open the moonroof on my 2003 PT Cruiser. Not even a reasonable facsimile.

My snacks continued to speak to me. I pulled out a favorite mug (it urged me to Be Fearless) and dropped in a teabag. Even the tag challenged me to think deeply about my life by quoting Reinhold Niebuhr: “Change is the essence of life: Surrender who you are for what you could become.” Now there is a theme I have certainly done quite a bit of thinking and writing about. But today, I am thinking about happiness.

It seems that everywhere you look you will find people, and even inanimate objects, expressing their opinions about how to live wisely and well. All this pontification can be entertaining and even thought-provoking, but when we want to know what is true about happiness, the Bible is our ultimate source. Here is what I discovered about being happy— and by the way, depending on what translation you are reading, being happy and being blessed are used interchangeably.

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.” Ecclesiastes 2:26

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” – Matthew 25:23

The first place to look for happiness is in the presence of God. Take time to take pleasure in worship, prayer and reading his Word. Please God by your faithfulness. Psalm 37:4 says,

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

If this is what makes you happy, by all means, do it!