What makes us happy and what affects our happiness?  You might assume:  circumstances.  Truly happy people continue to be happy regardless of their circumstances.  Circumstances may heighten their joy in the moment or may temporarily overwhelm them with sadness.  Nevertheless, they deal with all circumstances with a thankful and joyful heart.  You cannot always choose your circumstances.  Even when you can choose your circumstances, you depend greatly upon your mind to make the best choices and your body to make these best choices come true.  To make yourself happy and to sustain your happiness you must take care of the health and spirituality of your body and mind.

After Christmas break my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Wright, gave us a math assignment that would last the remainder of the school year.  “Oh boy,” I thought, “I have all kinds of time to complete this.”  In May, Mrs. Wright reminded us for the last time that the project is due on Monday.  It was Friday, and there were one hundred math problems due by Monday.  Four months had passed and I had not done one single problem.  My friend Barry was beaming for he already handed his problems in.  I saw many other happy faces, all over the room.  I also saw a few frightened faces -- like mine must have looked to others.

I still remember the agony of that weekend, tearfully trying to complete the assignment on time.  It was my own fault.  My mom showed compassion and encouraged me; but she also chided me for procrastination.  My unhappiness was avoidable; I could have been beaming on Friday and playing all weekend.  The happy students, like Barry, disciplined themselves to work on the assignment in little bits over the whole period of time.  It would have been a happy outcome if I had trained my mind and body with self-discipline.

Bound in a Roman prison, the apostle Paul experienced depressing circumstances.  His letter to the church in Philippi, however, expresses joy and contentment in his chains.  His body bound, he likely was not in the best of health, not getting a square meal, regular exercise, comfortable sleep, fresh air and sunshine.  He could also be consumed with worry that the judgment of Cesar would command his execution.  Yet he was happy!  He was happy facing execution, because to die in Christ meant eternal gain.  He was happy should he be released for he could continue to live his life for Christ.  He happily endured his imprisonment because he trained his mind to rejoice in the Lord and to think on excellent things.  Paul’s most excellent thought concerned the purpose of his life and body.  His life was all about glorifying God through his body, and he could even accomplish that purpose in chains.  The good news is you can train the habits of your mind and body to make you happy and to share your happiness.

Copyright © March 30, 2011 by D. Bryan Buttram.

 To read the Bible about training your mind for happiness, pass your pointer over these verses of scripture: Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 1:18-26 and 4:4-13.  If you need but cannot afford a Bible, please contact us so we may give you a Bible.

 

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