NOTE: This article is a continuation from last week’s guest blog post from Dr. Jeff Hagan.
All of us have been hurt by someone we loved. Bringing any of those negative feelings into future relationships will only prove to be destructive. No two people are the same, so it is unfair to hold a future friend accountable for how someone other than them has hurt you. Try to start each new relationship with a clean slate.
Hebrews 12:1, “…let us throw off everything that hinders…” (NIV).
What you put out will come back to you, so change your negative thinking right away. Whether we realize it or not, we have so much to be grateful for. Take take time to reflect on those things and appreciate them. More possibilities exist in the mind of someone who is positive.
Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things” (NIV).
12. Being Judgmental
Why do people feel the need to continually worry about what is going on in other people’s lives? If we spent as much time worrying about our own actions as we do worrying about others’, our lives would be much more meaningful. You have no idea what happened to them, what is going on in their lives, or in their minds or hearts, so who are you to condemn them?
Matthew 7:1-2, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging” (MSG).
Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (NIV).
13. Jealousy or Envy
Happiness is not having what you want; it is wanting what you have. Stop being jealous of others and start appreciating what you have. This is the heart of the Tenth Commandment, “Do not covet.” Everyone’s life is unique. You have certain things to offer that others do not. When we act in a jealous way, all we do is bring negative feelings into our lives. There is absolutely nothing positive to be gained from acting this way.
James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (ESV).
Exodus 20:17a, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…[or anything else]” (NIV).
For the most part, happy people tend to have very high levels of self-esteem. They accept who they are and own it every day. They give off an air of confidence and send out a positive vibe. There is really no reason to be insecure in life. If there are things you are self-conscious about, go out and do what you can to change them. Only you, with the help of the Holy Spirit, have the ability to create the best you possible.
Ephesians 6:10a, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (ESV).
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (ESV).
15. Depending on Others for Your Happiness
Ultimately, the only person you can truly count on is yourself. Do not make the mistake a lot of people do and place your happiness in the hands of others. A relationship is not going to fulfill the void if you are unable to make yourself happy. You need to achieve happiness and contentment on your own before you can find others to share it with. This is absolutely necessary to becoming self-sufficient. There is, of course, One Who you can lean on for help in finding happiness.
Proverbs 15:13, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrows of the heart the spirit is crushed” (ESV, emphasis mine).
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me” (ESV).
16. The Past
Stop living in the past! Take past mistakes as lessons learned and move on. You cannot completely move on to a better future if you keep looking behind you. Things happened. Move past it with the help of God’s Word and God’s people.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away; behold the new has come” (ESV).
Isaiah 43:18 , “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;” (ESV).
Sometimes we just need to let life flow along the way it was meant to. You cannot spend your life stressing out about things that are beyond your control. Try to relax and let things happen naturally. Embrace the unknown, where surprise, growth, and learning reside. Let yourself be excited by unknown occurrences and enjoy the delight they bring. Life, and the world, are under the Lord’s providential care, not yours.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, who you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price…” (ESV, emphasis mine).
Managing your expectations is a major key to happiness. If you let go of expectations, then you cannot be disappointed. Go into things with an open mind. This will allow you to give it your full attention without the pressure of living up to any preconceived ideas.
Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV).
Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (NASB).
True and complete joy can be found only in the Lord, but there is nothing wrong with taking steps to try and make one’s life happier.
This list may seem simplistic, and as I am sure you know, trying to live out these steps is very difficult in this fallen world. Do what you can to be happy, but never lose your eternal focus and your absolute dependence on Christ.
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.