So I had a conversation with a friend a few days ago who’s been going through a hard time after a bad “break–up”. She’s sought after my advice throughout all of the circumstances that occurred in this situation with her and this guy, and as best as I humanely could, I’ve offered her practical advice which I know she’s appreciated. The hard thing though is sometimes I wish I could control her brain and her emotions, because right now she’s unable to take her focus off this having not gone her way, and because of her current amplification of negative emotions as a result of this situation, she’s focused on other things that haven’t quite gone her way in life. It’s understandable given these things can be difficult to move past. It got me thinking though. Given that I’m feeling pretty upbeat in my life in spite of my own difficult circumstances I’m currently enduring, is it really true that as the title of my blog states, the less you focus on your misfortunes and your desires, the happier you are?
Of course happiness is all subjective. One moment something makes you feel good, another moment something tempts you to get mad, sad, or distresses you. I don’t think scripturally there’s anything wrong with acknowledging our own hardships we’re currently enduring. It was noted that Jesus was distressed before he knew he was going to be crucified; Paul acknowledged his own hardships of being beaten and jailed to the Philippians. But I think the problem is when you consume yourself into your own present challenges that are tempting you to be miserable.
Jesus was distressed before he was going to be crucified, but he prayed to God in the midst of that distress, and also in his prayer, in a sense he reminded himself of what the bigger purpose was when he stated, “yet not as I will, but you will”. Paul acknowledged to the Philippians his hardship of being beaten and jailed, but he also told them he was content with food and clothing, in a sense reminding himself he had things to be thankful for, which we’re commanded to be thankful always. Funny enough, science has more and more been proving that when one chooses to be thankful, when one is connecting themselves with a bigger purpose than themselves, they tend to be more joyful.
And there’s just so many other things that science is confirming generates happiness for humans that scripture has been talking about for years. Being a part of a community, giving of yourself to others. Having read scripture numerous times, I have a strong confidence in concluding that New Testament teachings primarily encourages us to focus our attention outwardly, on God and others, and less so inwardly. To focus our attention on the bigger purpose of things more than the minuscule day to day that we get ourselves sucked into so easily sometimes.
Maybe there was really something to what Paul encouraged the Philippians to do in Philippians 4:8 which states, “8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” I know for myself in spite of a current challenge I’ve been dealing with, because I don’t dwell on when’s this gonna finally be better and just trust God’s gonna do whatever is best, because I focus on appreciating the good things I have in life (family, friends, my needs, music, laughter, etc), because I focus on making myself better in whatever way I can (eating healthy, exercising, etc), because I focus on the bigger purpose of God’s will being fulfilled as the most important thing beyond all of whatever desires and hopes I may have (reading and living the Word daily), and because I commune with people every day in conversation with my focus on them taking more of my focus off of me, I’m honestly the most joyful in spite of my circumstances that I’ve ever been. And I still have my moments where I’m not feeling particularly cheery, but I don’t allow myself to sink down to the level of sulking in misery. I instead just choose to maintain a relaxed state of mind in those moments until I’m ready to focus on something more positive.
Not an endorsement of prosperity gospel
And one thing I want to make very clear, this post is as sure as the deepest depths of the burning fiery hell below, not an endorsement of prosperity gospel. Because you know what, that focuses you more on you and your personal desires and probably makes you even unhappier because you’re constantly frustrated with not having what you want. And then once you get that thing, you probably just end up repeating the same cycle with wanting something else. This is about following what scripture teaches on focusing on living for God and thus loving Him, focusing on loving others, being thankful of what we have in life, praying and singing to God through our trials, and trusting it’ll all work out for whatever best scenario God sees fit. For myself personally, that’s brought me peace and contentment, and I honestly don’t worry much at all anymore, which not worrying or being anxious is a part of what God wants us to strive for in being Christians. And we become more of a light shining in this world and hopefully influencing people to become saved and live as followers of Christ.
With all that said, it’s my prayer that this post has encouraged you, and if you can, please share with someone else you know this might encourage as well. Peace to all those who are in Christ.