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Happiness! Is it a pipe dream?

What would it take to make you happy? I mean really, really, really happy? As in, “I’ve never been happier in my life!”

It is likely your mind has been flooded with a number of different options which would seem to have the ability to make you happy, if not extremely so. Such options might include, buying a new house, or a new car, someone gifting you a vacation property, an unexpected significant inheritance or being handed a million dollars.

There is no denying the fact that being the recipient of any of those things would bring a big Cheshire cat beam to any face! But how long would the smile last? How long till the happiness factor was dissolved by everyday life?

Well research has an answer. It is found in a study done at Northwestern University. The research team measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers discovered much to their astonishment; the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical. The Cheshire beam of happiness which came from sudden wealth, lasted at best a year! This is a reminder that what psychologists call “impact bias”, which is the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of future emotional states based on what they hope will or could happen, is fleeting.

Yet in life we do come across people who are constantly happy!

So, is there a secret to finding and maintaining happiness? Travis Bradberry the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 writes there is.

Here are his top 10 recommendations.

Happy people;

1. Slow down and appreciate life’s little pleasures.

2. Exercise.

3. Spend money on other people.

4. Surround themselves with the right people.

5. Stay positive themselves.

6. Get enough sleep.

7. Have deep conversations.

8. Help others.

9. Make an effort to be happy.

10. Develop a growth mindset.

This list is in line with what has been learned by studying the lives of early Christians. Theologian W. Vorster wrote, “Early Christians were also happy because of their conduct. Deeds have consequences, and proper conduct leads to happiness.” Bradberry’s list leads us toward such conduct.

I believe this is still true of Christians today. But, I’d be amiss if I failed to add an eleventh recommendation. It really is the first and foremost prerequisite of living and maintaining a life of happiness. Psalm 144:15 (KJV) “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” No surprise! When this is the first and foremost pursuit in regard to experiencing happiness, it will lead to the conduct Vorster mentioned.

So, here’s the secret to walking around happy and with a Cheshire cat smile dominating your face for the rest of your life. Keep your body, mind and soul prioritized and grounded upon maintaining the priority of having God as the Lord of your life. Then work through and incorporate into your life the key actions from Bradberry’s list which caught your attention.

This will definitively move happiness from the pipe dream side of life to reality!

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