And Other Equally Tough Questions
Are you happy?
Has anyone ever asked you that question?
Or maybe YOU are the one that’s asked the question…
Let me help you. The answer is probably “no.”
People who are happy have a way of carrying themselves don’t they? An entirely different body language. They have a confidence, an aura. They walk more upright, they look you in the eye.
We look at people an instantly have a sense about them. Maybe we can’t define it. Maybe we aren’t exactly sure, but we sense there is something going on.
It’s almost as if we can FEEL happiness in others.
Or unhappiness in ourselves?
A great truth about happiness is that we don’t have to tell others that we’re happy. They’ll just know.
Do you have a friend who’s constantly telling you how great they are doing? Or maybe let’s put it in dating terms. Do you know anyone that’s been in a relationship and now that it’s been over for some time they announce, “I’m over her! I’m so over her. I couldn’t care less about her. I don’t care who she’s seeing. She is the farthest thing from my mind. I never even think about her. I am over her.”
Methinks he doth protest too much.
Even Shakespeare knew. If you are constantly mentioning an ex, you aren’t over them. If you’re constantly telling people you’re happy. Or asking yourself if you’re happy, you very likely aren’t.
Of course, some people try really hard to fool the world. And fortunately there’s a great tool out there for those people.
It’s called Social Media.
Do you have a friend that seems to be constantly posting selfies? Just their big ole grin right there? Maybe they are genuinely happy. It’s possible. But maybe, they’re trying to fool you.
Or fool themselves.
A recent poll on happiness in America concluded that at any given moment only one third of us are actually happy. And that seems about right doesn’t it?
Because another great truth about happiness is that sometimes our attempts to become happy are the very things that are making us unhappy.
We think we’d be happy if we could only have this or if we could only have that. There’s a THING that can make us happy. We might say, when I reach this milestone, then I’ll be happy. Or worse, we look back on a TIME when we were happy.
If we think there was a time in the past that we were happy (or at least happier) then by comparison our present situation will always fall short. You see, that time in the past, no matter how great it was, it’s not coming back. It’s in the past.
And that thing or future event, a promotion, a relationship, a new car or maybe a dream vacation, it’s
And maybe it never will be.
Or maybe when we get it, we’ll only want more.
Each and every one of us are currently living in the present (news flash). We have to make that present as full of happiness as possible.
Which leads us to yet another truth about happiness. Happiness is temporary. It’s a moment like any other.
Sometimes it may last longer than others, but it doesn’t last forever and to expect it to only makes us…you guessed it…
So, maybe a better question. One that your friends should be asking. Or that you should be asking youself is:
Do I WANT to be happy?
WHY wouldn’t I choose to be happy?
There’s a story in the Bible, in the book of Mark chapter 5, about Jesus and a demon-possessed man that might shed some light on this.
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Sometimes, healing is uncomfortable. It’s disruptive and it changes our narrative.
We had a story. We were a victim. Someone had hurt us, left us, betrayed us. The thing that we wanted, we didn’t get. The thing we thought would last forever didn’t. Someone had died. Our marriage ended. Our business failed. We were alone.
And over time our story came to define us.
We weren’t happy.
We couldn’t be happy.
We didn’t deserve to be happy.
We didn’t want to be happy.
See how it goes?
There’s this comfort in knowing who we are. Even if that comfort means clinging to something, or someone, or some time that is far less than healthy.
The people of the region of the Gerasenes had witnessed a great miracle. A healing. A beginning of a new life. A new way of living that said, the past had been one way, but maybe the future didn’t have to be.
And they were afraid.
They rejected it.
We’re all living our story. And at different points, people come into our lives that are disruptive. They bring a new way of thinking. They say, the past was this way but I’ve got a different future in mind.
They acknowledge all that you’ve been through. They wrap their arms around you as you sit on your living room floor screaming and crying and cursing God.
As much as possible, they see your pain.
They are different. You can feel it. They are happy. They are smiling and laughing. Almost uncontrollably. And they want you to be happy too. Not all the time because that isn’t possible. But more of the time than not. And not in the future, and not because you’ll get something or gain something. They want you to be happy because they love you. And they want you to love yourself just as much as they do.
Maybe this story of happiness isn’t one that ties up in a neat bow. Maybe you are going through a really rough season of your life and happiness just isn’t in the cards right now. First, remember that’s okay. It’s a season. It’s not forever. But maybe this season has lasted not days, weeks or months but rather years. Is it time to ask tough questions? Is it time to examine patterns? Is it time to take control and change your narrative? If so, look to the people in your life who are disrupters. Who love you but also challenge you. Who say, “That was the past. Let me tell you about your future.”
Are you happy? Do you really want to be?
Tough questions? Yes.
It’s in the tough questions though that we find the best answers.