Personal Growth

Why Your Happiness is Just Out of Reach

December 6, 2012

Yesterday evening I sat alone in a room. It was so very perfectly quiet. I sat smiling from ear to ear. Quietness feeds my mind and my soul. I face me there. I face me head on and I can’t hide. It’s a good thing.

As I reveled in the quietness I thought, “I am truly happy!” It was different for me. There was no, “I am happy, but…” or “I think I will be happy when…”

The thing is, for years now, I thought I would just be happy when ____________ happened. You fill in the blank.

It was has always been something. When I got married, when we bought a house, when we have a baby, when my baby sleeps through the night, when, when, when.

I am much happier than I used to be, but I still struggle with chasing happiness. And, I always wonder why.

A stellar resource

I am reading the book The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud. In the book, as you may have surmised, Dr. Cloud addresses the issue of happiness.

We all want happiness, but so few actually achieve a consistently happy state in their lives. The book addresses 13 areas where science and God agree on how to become happier.

One of the chapters struck me. Actually, I have a sneaky feeling the book literally jumped out of my hands and slapped me across the face!

The chapter was called “Happy people are not lazy about happiness.”

Happiness requires “doing the work”

In the chapter, Dr. Cloud tells the a story of John Grisham. As you probably know, John Grisham is the bestselling author of the novel “A Time To Kill.”

John was an attorney and a state legislator, but his dream was to be an author. He was extremely busy with his full time job and had other responsibilities, as we all do. John, however, decided to not be lazy about his happiness. He got up one hour earlier each day and wrote. Each day he wrote one page.

One hour, one page. Within a few years, he had “A Time To Kill.”

Since that day, John Grisham has sold over 100 million books!

What struck me was this. With all the books I have read, all the knowledge I have, I still, somewhere deep in me feel as though some-thing is going to bring me happiness. And it won’t.

(Actually, circumstances do bring some happiness, but only about 10% and this 10% is short lived. Soon you need something else to fill the void)

The truth is actually very simple: happy people pursue happiness every day! They aren’t lazy about their happiness!

photo by premasagar

When we stop being lazy and wake up from the dream which says, “When __________ happens, then I’ll be happy,” we come to the realization that we are responsible for our own happiness.

It is the same in the Bible where God promises the Israelites the promised land. But, he didn’t just give it to them. They had to go and possess it! And, honestly they had to travel far and fight quite a few battles to possess it. So do we.

Happiness will not just envelop us like a mist. Just as anyone needs to work on perfecting a trade, true and lasting happiness requires certain activities done on a regular basis. It requires work on our part.

It requires pursuit. Happiness must be.

Here are 13 habits Dr. Cloud emphasizes in his book. Each chapter goes into more detail on these habits, but here is a quick overview.

13 habits of  happy people

      1. Happy people are givers
      2. Happy people are not lazy about happiness
      3. Happy people don’t wait for “someday”
      4. Happy people pursue goals
      5. Happy people fully engage
      6. Happy people connect
      7. Happy people don’t compare
      8. Happy people think well
      9. Happy people are grateful
      10. Happy people have boundaries
      11. Happy people forgive
      12. Happy people have a calling
      13. Happy people have faith

Wow, this gives me tools! This is tangible! I can do this, and so can you!

I am altering my approach to happiness from this day forward! And, guess what? That is exactly why I was sitting alone last night smiling, when normally I would be worrying or fretting about who knows what!

I am actively pursuing happiness. Will you join me?

Question: Are you pursuing happiness?

 

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13 Comments

  • Reply Donna Yates December 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Claudia, this is so poignant!  I have been the same for years always thinking that “if I had—, then I’d be really happy”.  Of course as we know that usually is only fleeting happiness or joy but then there’s always the next thing.  I’m going to make my goals for 2013 today and one of them is going to be actively pursuing happiness!  Thanks for the reminder.   

    • Reply Claudia Good December 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      You’re so welcome Donna!
      Wow, what a great day for you, I LOVE goal setting day! How invigorating and inspiring! And what a wonderful goal to add – the pursuit of happiness! 

      I bet you would really enjoy his book. Cloud also wrote the book “Boundaries” which was also a life changer for me, you may have read it?

      Yes, as you said, I have been chasing happiness for awhile now only to get to the place where I thought I would be happy and find myself disappointed. It was as I read back on my journals and looked at pictures and made decisions about my next hair style that it dawned upon me. I have been chasing happiness, but not pursuing it actively in my life. I just expected to trip over it one day.

      It never happened though 😉

      Blessings friend as you actively pursue things which do bring happiness and fulfillment. I’m excited to see where your goal takes you! Keep me updated! 😉

  • Reply Ann Musico December 6, 2012 at 7:59 am

    What a great post and sounds like a wonderful book!  I can well remember chasing happiness thinking I had to be married, have kids, have a different job, etc. to be completely or truly happy.  But you are so right!  Those “things” make you happy for a time – but that wears off and you are looking for the next happiness fix! I’ve heard it also described that happiness has more to do with external “things” or circumstances – where joy is from within and doesn’t fade when “things” don’t go as planned.   Makes sense to me since it is one of the fruit of the Spirit.  I agree with Donna – pursuing real happiness is a great goal for 2013.

    • Reply Donna Yates December 6, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Ann, my husband is the teacher to our Sunday School class and last Sunday he taught on the difference between happiness and joy and said just what you said-that true joy is within.  We can always have joy but not always be happy with our circumstances. 

      • Reply Ann Musico December 6, 2012 at 8:13 am

         What a great class that must’ve been, Donna!  It makes perfect sense to me – it’s not always so easy to live, though. 

        • Reply Donna Yates December 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

          Oh I agree Ann.  I fail at it every day but still keep trying 🙂 

    • Reply Claudia Good December 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Ann, thank you!
      You would really enjoy the book, I just know it! But, I already see you as a beautifully happy person, it would only add to your glow 😉

      Oh yes your point about joy vs happiness… makes sense!

  • Reply AnnetteDarityGarber December 6, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Ooh! Great post, wise friend! Thanks for sharing all of it! I just recently had a conversation with a friend about how I think a good test of whether or not we are “happy” with ourselves and God is if we can sit in the silence. There have been times when silence felt threatening… bringing up feelings of guilt and shame that I didn’t want to deal with. So I’d hop in the car and turn up the tunes! Now I love the moments of silent stillness because I know I am loved by God and I am happy with who I am. Silence allows me to soak in that joy and Love and reflect upon my life in safety.

    • Reply Claudia Good December 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Annette!
      Ah yes, the silence test. Is definitely  a scary thought for some. I love how you pursue silence and reflection in your life, and it shows all over your face!

      The first time I truly reveled in silence was when I was living in Wyoming. There was hardly a moments peace during those days, and very few places to be alone. I used to climb atop a stack of baled hay in the middle of the winter at night just to be alone. The view of the stars was breathtaking laying on my back so very high. I was hidden up there, finally alone, and the quietness along with the refreshingly cold air brought healing to my heart and soul time and time again.

      My other go to place was the middle of a tall grass field. I was hidden by the tall stalks and would lay and look up at the deep blue sky… ahhhh!

      Wow, that was a trip down memory land for me 😉 Thank you!

  • Reply Marilyn Darity December 7, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Dear Claudia, 

     This was sent to me via my wonderful daughter.  What a wonderful to post to be receiving before Christmas during the most harrying and fretful time of the year for me.  You are so refreshingly honest which makes you very easy to relate with.  The 13 suggestions for happiness are going to go on my refrigerator and in my Bible to meditate on during this season.  Thanks for being so vulnerable.

    Love, Marilyn

    • Reply Claudia Good December 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Marilyn!
      Awww that was sweet of dear Annette 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, here! I am really enjoying the book! It is by the same author who wrote the book “Boundaries,” which maybe you have read.

      I have always admired you as a very happy person Marilyn, and one full of life and love! May you find increased joy, and moments of peace during this season.

      p.s. loved seeing you and your sweet family recently 🙂

  • Reply Michael Wright December 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    One of my favorite quotes of all time is Abe Lincoln “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”.   I really enjoyed your book “review” here, Claudia.   All those points about happy people are internal stances we can take.  I will join your Happiness Quest for 2013!

    • Reply Claudia Good December 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Wonderful Michael,
      Great to have you along for the ride! 🙂

      Abe was one cool and wise dude, that’s for sure. (am I allowed to call Abraham Lincoln a dude? haha it felt a little weird)

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