Let’s just be honest.
We want to be happy.
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?
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.
- “This is just the way I am.”
- “If I could just be like her.”
- “My life circumstances make happiness an impossible dream.”
- “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
- Whose Life Matters? Only or Too?
- Want More Grace? Quotes, Books, & a PDF