Everyone, believer or non-believer, wants to achieve happiness. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy as long as it is not our end-all goal. Other than not having a relationship with Christ, the biggest thing that holds us back from accomplishing our dreams is, unfortunately, ourselves. We put limitations on ourselves every day, whether consciously or subconsciously. There are several practical things we can do to overcome these limitations. Let’s look at some of the things we need to let go of on our journey to becoming happier people.
1. The Approval of Others
When it really boils down to it, who cares what other people think? If you are happy with the decisions you have made, and you have sought God’s will along the way, then whose business is that but you and God’s? Imagine how much you could accomplish if you stopped letting other people’s opinions dictate the way you live your life. You do you, don’t let them do you. Pray, obey and study the Word, and from there take the actions you discover might improve your life.
Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (ESV).
2. Anger, Bitterness, and Resentment
Anger will eat away at you from the inside. Learn how to forgive those who have wronged you. This isn’t about dismissing the other person’s harmful actions; it is about easing the negativity that it caused inside of you. Remember that whoever you let anger you, controls you. Forgiveness and letting go can actually lead you down the road to healing and peace.
Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (NIV).
3. Negative Body Image
This is a big one in the culture we find ourselves living in. Only one person’s opinion should matter to you when it comes to your body and that is you. There is nobody out there who can determine what a “correct” body type is. If you are comfortable with yourself, and you are healthy, then that should be all that matters. Do not let others make you feel that you are less than beautiful because if you believe you are, then you are.
Ephesians 2:10a, “For we are his [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” (ESV).
Genesis 1:27, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NLT).
4. Finding a Perfect Partner
The sooner you realize there is no perfect partner, the better off you will be. Oftentimes what keeps us from moving forward is staring at the perfect image of the imaginary partner that we have created in our minds. Find the right person for you: one that you can pour all of your heart into, one you feel comfortable being yourself with. The following is not a bible verse as has been the pattern so far, but I believe the words are appropriate for our purposes on this point.
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” – Bob Marley
5. A Perfect Life
Just like there is no perfect partner, there is also no perfect life to be had this side of heaven. Life is what you put into it, so if you are not willing to do your part and put forth effort, you will probably find yourself unhappy or even miserable most of the time. The choices you make will directly influence the life you live. It is up to you to create the best possible world for yourself while here on this earth. Just make sure to keep your eyes focused on the eternal.
John 16:33b, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV).
6. Being Rich
Too many people live their lives with the dangling hope that they will one day be rich. While this is achieved only by a minority of the population, it is not something that can happen without hard work and dedication. Stop letting money be your only, or main, motivator. Find a career you are passionate about and do your best. Be content with what it brings you. Turn off your thoughts of winning the lottery each week and you won’t be let down each week. Again, focus on the eternal.
Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (NIV, emphasis mine).
Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV).
7. Thoughts of Your Ex
Your ex is your ex for a reason. If you are going to think of him or hr at all, try and focus only on the lessons the experience taught you. Do not linger on any old feelings as they will only keep you from being happy with someone else in the future. This applies to ex-spouses as well as ex-boyfriends or girlfriends. Of course God “hates” divorce, but if reconciliation is impossible and the relationship has ended, then this advice is important to follow.
Philippians 3:13b, “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and striving forward to what lies ahead,” (ESV).
8. Stubbornness and Pride
I know it’s hard to admit, but sometimes we are wrong. Other people have just as much of a chance as you do in coming up with a correct answer, so stop being stubborn and just accept it. The less stubborn you are, the more open you will be to learning new things. Think of all that could be uncovered to you if you started hearing the opinions of others instead of focusing only on your own. Stubbornness springs from pride, and nobody wants to be around a prideful person.
Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (ESV).
Jeremiah 7:24, “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward not forward” (NIV).
Stop thinking you will eventually get to whatever needs doing “tomorrow.” Live life in the present and get your tasks done when they need to be done. Manage your time the best that you possibly can. This decreases, and can even eliminate, worry and stress by getting important or unpleasant tasks out of the way as soon as possible. By doing so, you give yourself more free time to enjoy the things you like doing.
Ecclesiastes 11:4, “If you wait for the perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done” (LB).
Proverbs 13:4, “Lazy people want much but get little while the diligent are prospering” (LB).
To be continued next week.
Dr. Jeff Hagan is an ordained Christian Minister with 23 years of ministry experience and is a member of the World Reformed Fellowship. He is the Founder & President of True Grace Ministries & Theological Institute (truegraceinstitute.webs.com). He has served as an Assistant to the Youth & Young Adult Pastor, Minister of Counseling, Associate Pastor, Bible college planter, and professor. He has attended such institutes as Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Luther Rice Seminary, Tyndale Seminary, and Northwest University. He has earned Doctorates in both Theology and Christian Education, Master’s degrees in both Biblical Studies and Christian Counseling, and a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Biblical Studies and Behavioral Science.