The Things Happy People Do

Recently, I read an article at the online version of the magazine Psychology Today about the things happy people do differently.  But, as I was reading the article, it seemed to me that the things that were mentioned weren’t all that different than what happy people have been doing for ages.  In fact, I’ll go so far to say that the concepts put forth in this article are congruent with those found in The Bible.  Let’s take a look….

From the article:

“The fever for happiness is spurred on, in part, by a growing body of
research suggesting that happiness does not just feel good but is good
for you—it’s been linked to all sorts of benefits, from higher earnings
and better immune-system functioning to boosts in creativity.”

From the Bible:

” A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Prov 17:22a [NIV])

From the article:

“Most people accept that true happiness is more than a jumble of
intensely positive feelings—it’s probably better described as a sense of
“peace” or “contentedness.””

From the Bible:

“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content.” (Prov. 19:23a [NIV]) 

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Phil 4:11b-12a [NIV])

From the article:

“In a 2007 study, Todd Kashdan and Colorado State psychologist Michael
Steger found that when participants monitored their own daily
activities, as well as how they felt, over the course of 21 days, those
who frequently felt curious on a given day also experienced the most
satisfaction with their life—and engaged in the highest number of
happiness-inducing activities, such as expressing gratitude to a colleague or volunteering to help others.”

From the Bible:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”  (Col 3:15-16 [NIV])

“Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up.” (Ecc 4:9-10 [NIV])

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  (Heb 6:10 [NIV])

From the article:

 “A study led by University of New South Wales psychologist Joseph Forgas
found that dispositionally happy people—those who have a general
leaning toward the positive—are less skeptical than others.”

“…happy people tend to overlook such second-to-second alterations—a flash
of annoyance, a sarcastic grin…The happiest
people have a natural emotional protection against getting sucked in by
the intense gravitational pull of little details.”

From the Bible:

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” (Rom 14:1 [NIV])

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Rom 15:7 [NIV])

From the article:

“..paying attention to detail is helpful. But too much focus on minutiae can be exhausting and paralyzing.”

From the Bible:

“…do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Luke 12:22b & 25 [NIV])

From the article:

“It makes sense, then, that we often assume that a good friend is the one who takes us out for beer and sympathy after we get passed up for a promotion—or that we’re being one when we pick up our buddy at the bar after his post-layoff binge leaves him too drunk to drive. Indeed, such support softens the blow of difficult life circumstances by helping the sufferer move past them. Still, new research reveals a less intuitive idea about friendship: The happiest people are the ones who are present when things go right for others—and whose own wins are regularly celebrated by their friends as well.”

“In life, it seems, there are an abundance of Florence Nightingales
waiting to show their heroism. What’s precious and scarce are those
people who can truly share in others’ joy and gains without envy.
So while it might be kind to send flowers to your friend when she’s in
the hospital for surgery, you’ll both derive more satisfaction out of
the bouquet you send her when she finishes medical school or gets
engaged.”

From the Bible:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Rom 12:15 [NIV])

From the article:

“Similar to training for a triathlon, learning the skill of emotional
discomfort is a task best taken on in increasing increments. For
example, instead of immediately distracting yourself with an episode of The Walking Dead
or pouring yourself a whiskey the next time you have a heated
disagreement with your teenage son, try simply tolerating the emotion
for a few minutes. Over time, your ability to withstand day-to-day
negative emotions will expand.”

From the Bible:

In your anger do not sin” (Eph 4:26a [NIV])

From the article:

“…people who are the happiest tend to be superior at sacrificing
short-term pleasures when there is a good opportunity to make progress
toward what they aspire to become in life.”

From the Bible:

“Whoever loves pleasure will become poor.” (Prov 21:17a [NIV])

“I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.  I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecc 2:1-3, 10-11[NIV])

From the article:

“Despite the apparent luster of achieving a predominantly positive state of mind, critics argue that the pursuit of happiness is a misguided goal—it’s fleeting, superficial, and hedonistic. Research backs up some of these claims. Studies by psychologist Ed Diener show that people actually pay an emotional price for intensely positive events because later ones—even moderately pleasant ones—seem less shiny by contrast…Perhaps more damning is a series of studies led by University of California, Berkeley psychologist Iris Mauss, which revealed that people who place a premium on being happy report feeling more lonely. Yes, being happy might be healthy—but craving happiness is a slippery slope. As well-being researchers, we don’t deny the importance of happiness—but we’ve also concluded that a well-lived life is more than just one in which you feel “up.”

From the Bible:

“Now all has been heard;
   here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
   for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Ecc 12:13 [NIV])

 

Okay, so my point in the comparison is that research is discovering what we already know through Scripture.  I don’t believe that I took these passages out of context; I was careful as I could be to not do that.  The fact is that research has confirmed what the Bible already says: 1) the happiest people are those who are grateful, helpful, thankful, and purposeful and 2) happiness isn’t the ultimate goal; those who seek happiness and pleasure end up being some of the most lonely people and depressed people we might find.  As Bible teacher Steve Brown is fond of saying (and I hope I’m quoting correctly), “Happiness is a by-product of pursuing something else.”

 

Blessings,

Randall

Here is a link to the full article from Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201306/what-happy-people-do-differently

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About august589

I'm currently a radio announcer but I'm currently pursuing a Master's in Mental Health Counseling degree. In these blogs, I want to bring a Biblical perspective to mental health and psychological issues that I find as I peruse the internet.
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