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Showing posts with label I just want to be happy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label I just want to be happy. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Be happy - compilation

My friend Lisa suggested a list of all the tips.  I think she had a good idea so I did just that.  I feel pretty inadequate, laying these thoughts to you, in hopes they can be of some help or encouragement.  But I know from my own experience and  many of my friends that fighting depression and discouragement is indeed a real battle.  I wish I could believe it doesn't have to be fought in the lives of Christians but that is simply not reality.  We Christ-followers are indeed waging a costly war against this malady.  And, it brings me to tears as I recall some who never have found victory.  I believe we can, I know we can.  If you find yourself in such darkness that you cannot even find the faith to believe, then I will believe for you.  That's not unbiblical - see Luke 5:20.  Let me know how you're doing.  If you've been able to encourage someone else with a tip or two from here.  Or if you've been encouraged yourself. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Be happy - final tip

Wow.  22 posts about our journey for joy.  When I began this series, I thought I would list a few things and take maybe a couple of posts to do so.  As I began writing, I had more and more to say.  And many of you were interested enough (and encouraging!) so I kept going.  I think I'm done.  I am sure I haven't covered all there is to say on the topic but I think I've exhausted my expertise.  One final word.

What to do when the darkness will not lift.  When you've tried all these things I've suggested, to the best of your ability.  What then?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Be happy - tip #21

When discussing strategies to combat depression, the question of medication comes up.  Is it helpful?  Necessary?  A good idea?  A bad idea?  Overused?  Underutilized?
We seem to polarize the issue - saying we should never use medication or automatically relying only on a prescription without considering any other issues.

I don't know the answers. I am not a professional counselor, a psychologist, nor a physician.  But I do know the Wonderful Counselor, the Soul-ologist, the Great Physician.  And here are some principles that I can garner from His Word that might address this question.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Be happy - tip #20

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable about the servant who owed a ginormous debt to the king.  (Side note - I always wondered what in the world that man did to run up such large debt!!  He was still a servant!!!  ANYHOW....)You're probably familiar with it.  Remember how the story goes?  He asked the king for mercy and the king graciously forgave his debt but then the servant turned right around and refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a piddling amount.  The king was not happy.  Familiar story.  But perhaps it bears pointing out a couple of verses that tie this to our topic of being happy. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Be happy - tip #19

This tip is difficult to embrace when you are hurting.  But it is necessary because it's the truth. 

Tip # 19 - It's not all about you.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Be happy - tip # 18

Tip # 18 - Don't trust your feelings.

That sounds odd.  We are trying to learn how to be happy, how to overcome depression or despair -- and I tell you not to trust your feelings????

Friday, April 5, 2013

Be happy - tip # 17

Tip # 17 - Be thankful.

Grateful people are happy people.  And happy people are grateful people.  Without exception.  Cultivating a spirit of gratitude is a potently positive action.  It changes our perspective, our feelings, our responses, and our behavior.  Oh, and it has a marvelous effect on our surroundings, too!

I recommend making it a habit to not only frequently list things for which you are thankful, but also to thank God for His generous gifts and to thank other people, too.  First, thank the Lord.  Then express thanks - in person, on the phone, and, my personal fav, in a note, to someone else. Powerful, absolutely powerful.

Try it.  Today.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Be happy - tip #16

Do you ever have those times when you just feel like crying?  Maybe there's seemingly no basis for it but  there wells up within you a thundercloud of tears.  Usually at a time when you can't hide and cry! Those emotions need an outlet.  It doesn't have to be via a sob but they need an outlet.  The expression can be in a positive way instead of stuffing it into depression or exploding into destructive outbursts.

Tip #16 - Just do something.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be happy - tip #15

Today's "Be Happy" tip is also this week's Wednesday's Word.  It's powerful. This may very well be the cure for every spiritual and emotional ill.  It's that powerful.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Be happy Tip #14

Sometimes people ask me "Isn't my depression spiritual warfare?  Isn't Satan attacking me?"  Well, I certainly believe in spiritual warfare - because Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6:12 : "For we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the kingdoms, against the powers, against the world leaders of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in the high places".  And the Bible also warns us that "your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8)

So, is everything undesirable that happens to us a casualty of this battle?  I don't think so.  Yes, we need to be sober and vigilant (I Peter 5:8a) and yes, we need to be armed and able to wage war successfully (Ephesians 6). But we don't need to fear and we don't need to always chalk all our problems up to The Enemy of our Souls.  I like how John Piper puts it "Give the devil his due, but no more". 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Be happy - tip #13

Let's review the tips so far:

1. Check out possible physical problems (fatigue, hormones, illness)
2. Acknowledge God's command to be joyful
3. Don't blame others - accept responsibility for your own joy
4. Confess sin
5. Address systems errors (ways to do things better/more successfully)
6. Accept the unchangeables.
7.  THE WORD - get in it.
8.  Pray.  And listen.
9.  Talk to yourself - but be sure and preach the Truth!
10.  Monitor music and media
11.  Immerse yourself in God's creation
12.  Don't go to the extreme of over-activity or of isolation.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Be happy - tip # 12

We humans tend towards extremes.  And, generally speaking, life is well-lived with things in balance.  So it is with tip #12.  When trying to shake the sad state, I have found it best to avoid the extremes of isolation and over-activity.

Either of these can push me towards feelings of depression and either can certainly prolong those feelings.  Seems to me, that we can use "over-activity" as sort of anesthesia.  Keeping ourselves "too busy" means we don't have time to deal with difficult issues...or to feel pain.  Althought that might seem like a good thing, it's not.  Pain is not always bad.  It's an indicator that there is a problem that needs our attention.  If we go without feeling pain for too long, we never address the problem.  And so things get worse.  Just as physical pain can be helpful (ever touch a hot stove?), so can emotional pain.  Always avoiding the pain can lead to bigger problems. Too much busy-ness is just not good.  AT ALL.

Just as too much activity/time with others is an extreme that we don't want to live in all the time, the same is true for isolation.  Now, don't hear what I'm not saying.  I strongly support time alone, time away from the crowds and routine demands.  Time to refresh and replenish.  And repair.  But we were made to need other people- and for them to need us - and when we find ourselves continuously pulling away from friends and family and responsiblities....and pulling inside ourselves, we need a red light to go on in our hearts.  Signalling trouble. 

Happiness comes with a balance of time alone, time with others, time giving, time receiving.  Check out your "extreme-o-meter" and see if you are registering too far in one direction or the other.   

Friday, March 29, 2013

Be happy - tips 10 & 11

Tip # 10 - Monitor music and media

We already mentioned this briefly in another tip post but it bears being singled out as its own post.  Check out your time on social media, watching movies/TV and what you are mindlessly listening to.  Major mood influencer. Beware of thinking you are spending less time than you actually are.  Cut out all social media and screen time for a solid week and see if you wind up with spare time on your hands.

Tip # 11 - Nature

Scripture says in Psalm 19 - "The Heavens declare the glory of God".  Get out there and look at it! Use your senses to take in the wonder and glory of God - listen to a nightingale's song; look at a breathtaking sunset (or better yet- sunRISE!); taste the sweetness of fresh strawberries straight from Washington Farms; smell honeysuckle on a walk through the woods; rub the wool on a lamb's back.  Experience this amazing world that God created with generous beauty.  Soak in the message His creation sends - we serve a mighty God.

And He is bigger than you and me....and our sadness.  Soak that truth up all the way into your bones!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Be happy tips 8 & 9

Tip #8 is a given but it's really interesting how much we think about doing this but never get around to it.  Pray.  Talk to God about our lack of joy.  The Psalms show us that David poured out his heart to God, revealing deep emotions that almost seem irreverent. But he wasn't being irreverent - he was being transparent with a honesty that God alone can deal with.  Apparently, King David knew that he needed to get the negative emotions out before they could be replaced with positive ones.

So, talk to God.  Then listen to what He has to say.

Tip # 8 -- Pray.

Tip # 9 involves talking, too.  Talking to yourself.  I know that sounds crazy but hear me out.
Psalm 42:5, 6 records the conversation David has with his soul...and the answer he gives himself.

 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation  and my God.

I find it very beneficial to monitor my self-talk --- instead of letting my soul speak lies and negative thoughts, I tell myself to instead listen to the truth. It's amazing how much of our thought life is not based on the truth.  We fall prey to vain imaginations ("I'll bet so&so said/did/thought such&such about me" or "What if _________ happens? What will I do then??") and false assumptions ("He will never change" or  "I can't do this anymore") and outright lies ("I am hopeless" or the equally destructive opposite "I am right"  and "Nobody understands what I'm going through")  Lies that steal our peace and joy.  Instead of Truth. And that Truth gets me back to tip #7 -- God's Word.

When the blues threaten to overtake you, try having a self-conversation like David did.  Ask yourself "why are you so sad?  why are you so stressed?"  Then, give yourself the answer of TRUTH before the voice of despair can respond - "My hope is in God. He is my joy and my salvation.  I shall praise Him."  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"  "God's love is from everlasting to everlasting.  He will never leave me or forsake me". " ALL His ways are loving and faithful".  His plans for me are good, plans to prosper me, to give me a future and a hope".  "My heart is deceitful so I cannot trust it - instead I will trust in the Lord".

Tip #9 - Speak TRUTH to yourself.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to be happy - tip #7

Don't worry that this is tip #7 but post #6 -- a couple were combined early on :)

Let's recap briefly:
1.  Check out possible physical problems (fatigue, hormones, illness)
2.  Acknowledge God's command to be joyful
3.  Don't blame others - accept responsibility for your own joy
4.  Confess sin
5.  Address systems errors (ways to do things better/more successfully)
6.  Accept the unchangeables.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How to be happy - part 5

Anybody remember "The Serenity Prayer"?  God, grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!!  That is a whole pile of truth right there.

How to be happy tip #6 is

Don't try to change the unchangeables.  Granted, with God, there are few things that fall into this category.  He is in the business of the impossible.  And He delights to bring beauty out of ashes.  But  sometimes  what He wants to change is our perspective, not the situation. 

For instance, our past.  If what's making us depressed is our history of past failures, we need to adjust.  Our perspective - not our past.  It's an unchangeable.  But the way we view it isn't. Instead of wasting energy and emotions regretting what cannot be changed,  focus on the attitude about it.  Let God redeem it, use it for His glory, free you from its bondange.

Or other people.  We spend untold amounts of valuable emotional resources in angst over people that we think should change.  Maybe they really do need to change, but our stress over them will not accomplish that for them!  Instead of being depressed over relationships that disappoint or wound us, resolve to let God change them.As Ruth Graham once said, "It's my job to love Billy.  It's God's job to make him good".  We need to change our role in the lives of those folks that stress us out.  (Now don't hear what I am not saying -- I am NOT suggesting that you dump everyone that causes pain in your life!!!  No, I am saying that we focus on changing our response to those folks, not on "fixing" them.)

Other unchangeables are things like world peace, government spending, and the war on terror.  Although I definitely do strongly advocate being involved in worthy causes, becoming an informed and active voter, and voicing your opinion respectfully, we must be take caution that we don't stew and fret over large scale events.  I can get pretty worked up over things like folks that work for me who overspend my money (just sayin') so it helps me to remember who is ultimately in charge.  And it's not a certain political party.   Isaiah tells us in chapters 45 and 46 truth like this "I am the Lord and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me.  I am the Lord and there is no other." And" For I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times, things not yet done, saying 'My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country.  I have spoken and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed and I will do it".
Job learned this lesson very well and responded to the Lord "I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted".

So, happiness tactic # 6 - Don't stress over unchangeables.  God is in control.  And all His ways are loving and faithful.  His Word is true-er than our circumstances!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How to be happy - part 4 -Systems error

Sometimes our sadness can be the result of some sin that separates us from the source of joy.  So we can confess it and have our Joy restored.  Sometimes, though, our lack of joy is a "systems error".  We feel discouraged or disheartened or disturbed because we have an insurmountable "to do " list.

Tactic #5-
Establish systems that lead to success.

In other words, if your family frequently gets frustrated because they have no clean clothes to wear, then you have a systems problem.  Figure out how to fix it.

If you feel stressed repeatedly ("stress" is the antithesis of "joy") because it's almost dinnertime and you're not prepared to feed your crew, then you have a systems problem.  Check your priorities.

If your daily routine is anything but routine, then you have a systems problem.  It needs to be repaired.

If the numbers on the scale or on the receipt of the ATM transaction cause you to be distressed, then you need to address the appropriate system.

Sometimes the path to joy is systematic.  :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

How to be happy, part 3

To summarize, some tactics to use against a lack of joy:
1.  Check to be sure you are healthy and rested.
2.  Embrace the truth that we ARE to rejoice - therefore, seek to be happy in the right way.
3.  Don't blame others if you aren't happy.

4. This one isn't going to win me any friends, but, here goes.  Confess sin.  Yep, confess sin.  That probably doesn't sit too well with you if you are in the pits of despair.  Might make you feel worse, in fact.  So why do I include it?  Because it's necessary for us to examine ourselves and see what wrong resides within us. Notice I didn't say "if".  Why am I presuming there is sin present just because we are depressed?  Because there usually is!  If nothing else, there's probably a shred or two of self-pity over our sadness......

Psalm 32:3,4  says "when I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away.  Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;  My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer".

Sounds like lack of joy and lack of confession are connected to me.

Pathway to joy - ask the Lord to reveal anything between us and Him....anything between us and somebody else.  When He does, confess it.  Where necessary, make things right with others.  Then accept His forgiveness.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to be happy, part 2

So, after I take care to be sure I get in bed early and have adequate exercise, etc, what do I do if the sadness persists?  I am no counselor but I have found some things that are helpful.  Other than considering the physical aspect of "the blues", I go through a list of strategies and apply them.

2.  Embrace the truth that, as Christians, we are commanded to rejoice.  In the Lord.  This means we are to be happy! So we need to learn how to do just that.  It helps me to understand that this desire to be happy is really a longing for Christ.  In His presence is fullness of joy.  So I must realize that if I am experiencing despair or despondency, I must accept responsibility for it and do what it takes to be obedient to His command.  While I don't think this means we are to expect a circus euphoria perpetually nor does it mean we should be deceitful to ourselves or to others when we feel this lack of joy, I do think that we need to take seriously the need to find our joy in Him.

That said, what are some ways to accomplish this?

3.  Stop blaming others and stop looking to others to "fix things" so we can be happy.  This is alot easier to type than to practice.  It is very natural to feel that some of our lack of joy is a result of the actions (or inactions) of others.  This may be initially true but it blaming others serves only to prevent our reaching the goal line of happiness.  It is probably the biggest block, in fact.  Expecting others to take responsibility for our joy is immature and ineffective.  In short - it just won't work.  Ultimately, it short circuits not only the relationships where we place the blame, but most other relationships as well.  After we pass about age 3, other people just won't accept the burden of making sure we achieve our goal of joy.  That obligation takes a dramatic shift towards ourselves.  And the sooner we accept that, the happier we - and they - will be.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I just want to be happy!

How many times have we heard that heartcry - from friends and family....and from the depths of our own soul!  Most of the time, I consider myself a happy person.  I love life and people and it makes me happy just to "be".  Sometimes I find myself just grinning wildly -- for no apparent reason. 

But other times, I don't feel that joy.  I want to, but it eludes me.  What I feel instead is a need to get to the shower and have a long, deep cry.  Sometimes my schedule affords that luxury and oftentimes the weeping is cathartic.  Getting those sad emotions out makes room for happy ones.  Other times, though, there is no opportunity to escape to solitude and cry it out.  And, sometimes, even when I can make it to the shower alone and sob, the release of emotion does not erase the despondency.  It seems to fuel it instead.

I have discovered through the years that I am neither insane nor alone in my fight for joy.  From talking with my friends to reading the stories of some giants in the faith to digging into the Psalms, I find that most everybody has to do this same battle.  Some find more victory than others. Over the next few posts, I will share some things that I have found helpful, in case you find yourself waging war against melancholy moods.