Who’s Responsible For Your Happiness?
(Psalms 144:15 KJVA) Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Today we are going to be talking about happiness. I believe we can all enjoy more happiness in our lives then we have been allowing ourselves to enjoy. In the above Psalm King David gives us a hint into one of the keys to happiness. But we have to go back to the verse before this one to get the answer. Before we do that I want to talk about an interesting statistic I recently discovered about happiness.
Let me ask you this question. In the Olympic games, who do you think is happier, the silver medal winner, or the bronze medal winner? (The silver being second place and the bronze being third.)
I have to admit I was wrong with this one. I thought that the silver medal winner would be happier, but it is the bronze winners that have proven to be happier with their medal. The explanation that was given was that the silver medal winners feel as if they just missed out on the gold, while the bronze medal winners are so excited to have actually won and Olympic medal.
As human beings and especially Americans we are competitive beings. Most of us strive for the best and desire to be all that we can be. Unfortunately our happiness is very dependent upon where we feel we fall on that scale of success. If someone at a particular point in their life feels as if they have reached their own subconscious set goal then they are naturally happy with themselves. But if they somehow feel as if they have not lived up to their own expectations then their happiness is drastically affected.
Just for the sake of searching for an example, I am going to use someone trying to quit smoking. It could really be anything, like a career goal, or a romantic desire, or a physical commitment, whatever your personal, individualized target might be. So for now we will talk about smoking. I believe it was Mark Twain who said it best; “It is easy to quit smoking, I did it a thousand times.”
If anyone has ever struggled with overcoming the addiction to cigarettes, you know how frustrating things can get. Not only does it seem that the stress level around you suddenly rises to new levels when you need things to be calm as you get over the first few days, but your belief in your own will power can become real weak.
So when we give up and grab a fresh pack and open it up and light up again, who do we blame? It always seems easy enough to blame the people around you who caused the added stress that drove you to smoke. Then you turn to yourself and start kicking yourself for not being strong enough to kick the habit. Then the third thing you do is kick the dog.
So, who is responsible for your happiness? We already know the answer to that don’t we?
We are!!!! You are responsible for your own happiness and you really can not blame you being miserable on anyone else. Sometimes we just get tired. Sometimes our bodies ach and we hurt. Sometimes we might not be feeling very well and sometimes our hearts get broken. These are real things that go on outside of our control that seriously effect our happiness. But the truth is we decide to let them effect us as much as we give them control to do so. How much power do you give to other people over your happiness?
I will give you a personal example. As most of you know I drive a school bus for a living. In fact I am what is called a Relief Driver. That is like a substitute driver, only it sounds a little better. Being a Relief Driver I never know what route or bus I am going to be driving an on given day. I have a bad habit of letting the bus I drive, whether it is an air conditioned bus or not, whether it has a radio in it our not, how comfortable the seat is or not…., I too often let that have control over my happiness level.
Now, on these 90 degree days when it is real humid and then it starts to rain so you have to put up the windows, and it becomes like a sauna full of screaming miserable uncontrollable children rolling down the wet road crowded with blue haired people who do not remember what rain even is let alone how to drive in it, you can understand how that might effect someone’s happiness level.
OK, OK, sometimes we have good reason to not be real happy, but what do we do about it? Do we start kicking the dog, or taking our frustrations out on other people hoping that by destroying their happiness you might be able to gain some of yours back? No in fact it has to be the exact opposite.
Now we can go back to our scripture and discover some secrets to happiness. I am not sure who or what King David was going through at the time of this Psalm but he knew where the victory was going to come from, and he knew what would make him happy.
(Psalms 144:11 – 15 KJV) Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
To quickly go over the requests that King David makes here we first see him asking to be delivered from these strange lying children. Of course he was not talking about children, but a people. (However in my bus driving job this children thing really applies.) But he wants safety and security. Secondly he desires that his sons and daughters would be able to grow up strong and beautiful. Then he asks for thousands and ten thousands of sheep. What he is talking about there is prosperity. The next thing he talks about is the oxen, being strong and not needing any breaking in or going out. There he is really saying that he wants things to run smoothly. Then finally, and for today’s message the most important, is the second half of this 14th verse:
(Psalms 144:14b KJV) … that there be no complaining in our streets.
I know that I am starting at the top and working my way down, but this is real important. If we can get a hold on this one thing, we can change our lives for the better. And not our lives only but the lives of so many people around us. I am going to go back to the thought that was first given to me by Joanne Russell who said:
“Your thoughts control your emotions, your emotions control your words, your words control your actions, your actions control your habits, your habits control your character, and your character controls your destiny.”
If we used that correctly we would go right after changing the way we think about things in order to change the way we feel right? Well, sometimes that is harder then it sounds. So take it back words and place a little more control over what you say. If your thoughts control you emotions and happiness is an emotion, then your happiness would in turn control what you say. So if you turn it around at that point, no matter how you really feel about something, speak life into it rather then death, you will turn your complaining in praising and your mood will follow.
That is why sometimes you have to put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness:
(Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Do you want to be happier? Then start by trying to make other people happier. And the best way to do that is to start by talking nicer to them. Start talking nicer to yourself. Start talking nicer. Remember there is life and death in your tongue.
(Proverbs 18:21 KJVA) Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Before we close I want to go over once again the modern day equivalent of King David’s hierarchy of needs. Basically what King David was expressing with his prayer request to God in this Psalm was his hierarchy of needs. Today, academia uses Maslow's hierarchy of needs to guide us to secular happiness.
So, let’s compare this to King David’s. We said that the first thing that King David needed was safety and security from a lying enemy. Safety is second on Maslow’s pyramid. Then King David wanted to look out for his family. That matches Maslow’s third stage of love and belonging. The next thing that David desired was the thousand and ten thousands of sheep. (Show me the money!) Again matching Maslow’s fourth stage of esteem. Then we have the 14th verse where King David simply wants things to run smoothly and for people to stop complaining. OK, to be fair it is not that he wants them to stop complaining, he really desires for them to not have anything to complain about. (That would be nice wouldn’t it?) Can we match that with Maslow’s Self-Actualization? I don’t know, it might be a stretch, but I want to challenge you with this; Try going just one day, without complaining, or grumbling, for one day and tell me if you do not find yourself even a little more happy then normal.
I am drawing a direct correlation between complaining and your lack of happiness. I should not have to remind you of how good you really have it. I spoke last Sunday Night about the building project in Mexico I was able to take part in a few years ago. I talked about the real poverty and terrible living conditions these millions and millions of people are living in. I say the same poverty in Honduras when I visited there. But do you something strange that I found. I found that the people even in their poverty, were genuinely happy. Sometimes they seemed happier then some of the rich people I meet here in the states. Happiness is not dependent upon prosperity as much as it is dependent upon your expectations.
Like the silver medal winner being upset while the bronze winner is overjoyed. Do you remember the 2002 Winter Olympic games. There was a big controversy over the pairs skating winners. The Canadian team gave a flawless performance while the Russian team made a couple of mistakes. Everyone thought for sure that Sale and Pelletier of Canada was going to be the gold winners. However, the judges gave the gold to the Russian team. Everyone was upset about it and it caused a whole lot of hoopla. What was missed in the whole thing was how overjoyed the Chinese team was to have won the bronze. In the end the gold was shared by both the Russian team and the Canadian team and everyone was happy….
I believe that God wants you to be happy. He designed you to go after the gold, but he does not want you sulking over the silver. It is like the loosing team of the Superbowl; they shouldn’t feel all that bad, they made it to the Superbowl.
I am going to end with this suggestion. I don’t know, it might be a commandment, it is kind of worded like one, but it is tucked away in a small book and it is a small verse, easily overlooked. It must just be a suggestion.
(Philippians 2:14 CEV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing.
Do you want to change your life? Stop complaining about it. Count your blessings and give God praise for the great and wonderful things he has done, for what He is doing right now and for the great things he has in store for you in the future. If you would believe the report of the LORD over the report of Madison Avenue, you will discover that you have a lot more to be happy about then you even know.