I’m so excited to share this guest post with you by the lovely Alli Worthington. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Alli speak in person twice and was able to spend a little time with her last fall when she spoke at my church. I am a huge fan of her books and podcast, particularly her latest book, The Year of Living Happy*. In this devotional, she challenges us to rethink what we’ve heard about happiness. She’s sharing an excerpt from this book with us today. I hope you enjoy it!
Growing up, I remember being told that joy was spelled, “J-O-Y”— Jesus, others, and you. It was supposed to be a reminder that joy comes from having the right priorities, and that’s certainly true. But it seemed as if joy were always pitted against happiness. While joy was godly and spiritual, happiness was shallow and selfish. But as I kept walking with Jesus, I came to understand that seeking to follow God and seeking to be happy weren’t mutually exclusive.
I used to believe the search for happiness was a superficial pursuit, that happiness and holiness have nothing to do with each other. But now I see that they go hand in hand. This work of seeking authentic happiness is important, and it is holy. As we seek after the things that create real happiness in us, we find God. And when we live the life God has created us to live, securely and obediently trusting Him in all areas, we are happier.
As I pursued this topic of holy happiness, I learned that the concept that happiness is fleeting and of the world, and joy is somehow more holy, is an idea that only became popular a little over a hundred years ago. All throughout church history this concept was unknown until very recently.
There’s nothing in the Bible that separates the concept of joy and happiness. They have the same meaning according to the original languages of Scripture. So many of the words our English bibles use like ‘delight,’ “joy,” and “gladness’ are actually synonyms for the original Hebrew and Greek words that mean happiness.
God tells us repeatedly to be happy in Scripture. Commands such as “rejoice,” “be of good cheer,” “do not be afraid,” “give thanks,” these are all ways of telling us to be happy!
Our happiness (and our joy) are tied to what we desire most. We go off-track seeking happiness when we try to find it in things of this world. But when we desire to find our happiness in God, we access a well of joy that won’t run dry.
Scripture tells us, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). I used to think that meant God would give me whatever I wanted if I seemed happy enough to Him. Now I’ve come to see that when my happiness is placed securely in God, He will be the desire of my heart. And when He’s the desire of my heart, my happiness isn’t going anywhere.
God designed us to seek happiness in Him and to want to have the source of our happiness be in Him. As John Piper said, “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.”
I discovered that by adding in small, simple habits in my day I became a little happier every day.
Here are three things that will build your happiness:
- Focus on Gratitude
At the end of the day, I ask my boys what their three wins for the day are. I ask them in this way because when I tried to ask my sons what they were grateful each day, they looked at me like I had three heads.
But when I ask them what their wins are I trick them into practicing the discipline of gratitude with me! By looking for the wins, they are identifying the things that are good, and those are the things they are grateful for!
This is a practice of gratitude is not just for the boys, but for their momma, too!
2. Find your Battle Buddies
A friend told me that in the Army they have something called battle buddies. A battle buddy is someone who supports you and looks out for you in and out of battle.
Don’t we all need a couple of great battle buddies on our journey with us?
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Just as a blacksmith will use metal on metal to form it for its intended purpose, God will use certain people in our lives to sharpen and mold us into who he is making us to be.
Identify your battle buddies who look out for you, encourage you, and are there for you when life looks more like a battlefield than we’d like!
3. Talk to yourself in a manner worthy of you
Jesus says our mouths speak from the overflow of our hearts. If we truly believe we are his workmanship and are loved by our Father, our words will reflect that truth, both to ourselves and others.
The Lord has done a great work in you. Don’t let your own mouth be a tool that the enemy can use against you to steal your happiness and confidence. You are fearfully and wonderfully made- created in God’s image!
Make a promise to God and to yourself that you will only speak to yourself in a manner worthy of you.
As women of God, let’s be the ones who do the Kingdom work of fighting for authentic, holy happiness and teach our families, our friends, and our communities by our example.
About Alli Worthington
Alli Worthington is the author of The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World, Fierce Faith: A Woman’s Guide to Fighting Fear, Wrestling Worry and Overcoming Anxiety and Breaking Busy: Finding Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy. She is also a speaker and business coach.
Alli’s no-nonsense, guilt-free take on business, family, and balance lead to appearances on The Today Show and Good Morning America.
You can tune in every week to her podcast, The Alli Worthington Show.
Alli, her husband, Mark, and their five sons live outside of Nashville, TN with the only golden retriever who refuses to retrieve.
You can connect with her at AlliWorthington.com and on Instagram at AlliWorthington.