happiness, n., a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
What makes a person happy? I suppose this question has been asked millions of times over the course of time that humans have walked the earth. I sincerely wonder if it is a commodity that evades definition.
We all want to be happy. Happy with our circumstances, happy with our jobs, happy with our lives...right?
A few days ago, a sweet friend was pleased to see me. "You look so happy!" she said with a smile. Apparently, I had not looked happy the last time I was in her presence. It made me think about what was different from the last time I saw her; really, nothing had changed. My circumstances are still the same as then - the same grief and swirling emotions. But, perhaps time really is the great healer, and I'm continuing to progress through the grief process without being fully aware. I wanna say that makes me happy. Honestly, though, I think I've just learned how to put on a good face. Sound familiar?
What is it that elicits true happy feelings, feelings of contentment, enjoyment, joy...even completeness? I might suggest that we all feel most contented and joyful when we are wanted by others, even needed. Oh, I know...you have heard me harp on this before, "everyone needs to feel wanted and needed". Sorry, but I still stand by my assertion. The happiest I have felt in my life was at times when I felt completely accepted, wanted and needed by those who were important to me. As a general rule, I'd say that most of us want to please those closest to us; when we feel successful in that endeavor, it results in happiness.
So, maybe, just maybe, we could focus on creating happiness for others. Would that work? Would the simple act of making others feel needed and wanted create happiness for ourselves? Do we have broad enough shoulders to help carry someone else's burden, thus giving them a piece of happiness from feeling that they matter? Can we turn away from our inward focus, the nagging worries and unsolvable problems and just give our attention to making someone else smile, or more - letting them feel like they are worthy of our time?
Making someone else happy always makes me happy, I have to admit. I like to see people smile, glow from the inside out, and then to know that there is great potential of them passing it on to someone else. But ultimately, I cannot rely on others to facilitate my happiness and, unfortunately, I don't have the power to make someone deeply contented in their life. Spiritual happiness comes from one source, and it isn't from our best friend, spouse or parents. It comes from the One who created our souls in the first place. Knowing that our fate lies in His hands, and that He has our best interest at heart always, is the underlying foundation of deep, satisfying happiness. Even with that, though, I believe that our LORD works through those around us, showing us His unending love and care by the works and kindness of those walking beside us.
I'm thinkin' kindness begats happiness. Could it be that simple? When you think of the lack of happiness in your life, the source of that worry, that pain, that grief - wouldn't a little kindness soften the edges? What if that husband was kind and understanding instead of critical and harsh? What if that teacher was accepting and respectful instead of arrogant and moody? What if that young person was willing to listen and consider instead of dismissing the wisdom of an elder?
To that end, I'm sure there is someone in my life who needs to feel a little happiness right now.