Do You Want to Be Happy?

Let’s just be honest.

We want to be happy.

It’s okay.

Somewhere along the way, Christians get a message not to admit that. Oh, we only want to be holy, we say. Happy or not.

“Isn’t happiness against the rules? Some of us may believe that we have to pick one or the other: happiness or Jesus.”
– Jennifer Dukes Lee

But who doesn’t also want to be happy?

“When I choose happiness, I am not denying the pain of this world. I am refusing to give in to it.”- Jennifer Dukes Lee

Part 1: You Have Permission

Jennifer Dukes Lee comes right out and says this:

“It’s the underline of every New Year’s resolution, the reason behind every diet, the hope underneath every “I do” at the altar. Happiness is the aim of every human —from the free-wheeling squanderer to the most saintly woman under your church steeple. You and I just want to be happy. I don’t know one person in my life who prefers an unhappy marriage to a happy one; an unhappy heart to a happy one; an unhappy workplace; or unhappy kids.”

In her new book The Happiness Dare, she gives us all permission to seek happiness. Not over holiness, but alongside it. “We have learned that happiness isn’t separate from our holiness, but is a part of it.”


Who could be more happy than Jesus? He wants us to be happy with him. In him.

“This is what he showed me: My happiness was not apart from him. It was a part of him. My happiness all those years ago was not separate from my holiness. It was 100 percent entwined with it.”

When he came, it was to bring the gospel, the good news.

“If we say the gospel won’t bring happiness, any perceptive listener should respond, ‘Then how is it good news?’ We need to reverse the trend. Let’s redeem the word happiness in light of both Scripture and church history. Our message shouldn’t be ‘Don’t seek happiness,’ but ‘You’ll find in Jesus the happiness you’ve always longed for.'”

Part 2: You Have a Style

Jennifer has a plan. She found five ways we’re wired for happiness. Each person has one primary style (although we dabble in all five).

Take the “What’s Your Happiness Style?” assessment to discover your style.

  • The Doers
  • The Relaters
  • The Experiencers
  • The Givers
  • The Thinkers
    (This is so me: “You would be lost without: your books. For every book you finish, you add two more to the list. There’s no such thing as ‘too many books’ —only too few shelves to put them all on. It bugs you that you’ll die without having had a chance to read everything you want to read and to explore everything you’ve wanted to explore.”)

Then she lays out specific suggestions for each style in the chapters that follow. She gets into the details, including what makes you tick, red flags, and questions for “Digging Deeper.”

Part 3: You Have a Choice

The last section of The Happiness Dare includes things you can do for just five minutes every day that can increase your happiness.

For Thinkers, she suggests these:

“Spend five minutes crafting a poem. Read a short passage in a book. Listen to NPR. Take a brisk walk outside to give yourself the space you need to contemplate. Look out the window and simply wonder about things without feeling the least bit guilty over the work that must get done today.”

She also encourages us: Stop believing these four statements that interfere with our happiness.

  1. “This is just the way I am.”
  2. “If I could just be like her.”
  3. “My life circumstances make happiness an impossible dream.”
  4. “If only I had __________ .”

But we’re also reminded that happy people do cry. “Happiness—genuine happiness—allows space for a person to be sad.” We just don’t have to turn cynical or bitter in the process.

“Because despite everything, this old world is still a beautiful place. No matter how hopeless it all seems, there’s always, always something to be thankful for. We can be grateful in times of hopelessness because we are gripped at all times by God.”

* * *

Which style are you? I’m primarily a Thinker. Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Tyndale Blog Network
for the review copy of this book

21 thoughts on “Do You Want to Be Happy?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      After I looked up apotheosis (the highest point; for others who also don’t know its meaning, ha), I admire your attitude even more, Andrew. I know you’re correct; each moment contains it all. I’m just not there yet…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s great, Patti. The givers and relaters sound so much nicer than we thinkers. ha. But alas, we are how God wired us to be and we have to go with that. 🙂

  1. floyd

    Sounds like a great book. I wish Jennifer all the best! She’s a wise one.

    And I agree with her; happiness is achieved from the inside out. And although I’ve written it like a zillion times, I still think trying to find happiness from the outside, is kin to trying to drown a fish.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Keep saying it, Floyd. Because I have to rethink it every time you do. It remains true each time. And yes, Jennifer is a wise one! One day it’ll be your wise book we’re cheering for. 🙂

  2. Barbara H.

    I like this premise. I really get tired of people saying God created us for holiness, not happiness, as if the two are incompatible. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    I was surprised I tied for Doer and Thinker – I would have guessed Thinker all the way, especially from the paragraph you quoted. But I can see it. Funny, they are also the types that the description says are most likely to have conflict with each other.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes–Psa 16:11 is one of my favorite verses, too, Barbara.

      Sometimes I think the pendulum swings too far one way or the other–for too long in my church heritage is was stuck on the far side of work, work, work. John Piper was an author who really helped me see that God DOES want us also to be joyful in him. It was a life-altering concept.

      A Doer and Thinker seems like a good combo to me. You think about it then you do it. 🙂

  3. Lori

    I’m a giver/thinker. I find it kind of funny that I never had the chance to “daydream” back home. The past four years of living in the middle of nowhere I’ve had lots of time standing at the front door or a window just watching. Nothing to see really, but just watching. Those stolen minutes throughout the day helped a lot. Thanks for sharing this review with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s wonderful that now you have time to daydream, Lori. Sometimes we aren’t even aware how important those moments can be. Giver/thinker sounds like a productive member of society to me. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly, Beverley. I often feel that I do NOT have any choice over my emotions, but I have to remind myself that my emotions come from my thoughts, and I can choose to think on better things (easier said than done, but still).

  4. Dawn

    Hi Lisa!

    I have take Jennifer’s test but I have not added my scores… is there a category for procrastinators on there? 🙂 I am pretty sure I fall in to the thinker categor w/o adding any of the scores up. That tends to be my personality, at least…and I am with you on the whole book vs book shelf vs time in the day and money in the wallet scenario where books are concerned.

    It is so neat to see all these bloggers cheering Jennifer on and spreading happy.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Procrastinators probably fit neatly into one of the categories. ha.
      Perhaps heaven will have unlimited shelving and reading corners for people like us. 🙂 Have a blessed week ahead, Dawn.

  5. Michele Morin

    Lost without my books! Yes! But I came out higher on doer than thinker, and really enjoyed the book. Thanks for your review — it’s always fun to read a review on a book that you’re reading!

      1. Ashley Davis

        I was thinking last night how God has revealed to me my strengths (and weaknesses) over the past few years. My spiritual gifts are encouragement, mercy, and wisdom, which go right along with being a relater. Funny how God works all of that out. ? And it’s also nice because I am an introvert with some extrovert qualities, but my introvert quality that goes well with being a relater is the quality of spending time with people. God is amazing. He relates all of these qualities back together, and we get to praise Him for these things He has blessed us with.

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