If you haven’t noticed, there’s a trend that’s been going around facebook and instagram called #100happydays. The concept is relatively simple, you post one picture each day of something that makes you happy for 100 consecutive days. The idea behind the trend is that although life is often filled with negativity, committing to taking these pictures will eventually inspire us to find happiness in the small things and to appreciate the simple pleasures of life.
I thought it sounded like a cool idea so I decided to embark on this 100 day photo adventure. I managed to complete the challenge and aside from having a lot of fun along the way, it got me thinking about and reflecting on what ‘happiness’ actually means to me.
I’ve heard many people say that their goal in life is ‘to be happy’. It seems like an obviously subjective term, but the world puts so much emphasis on what happiness should look like that in today’s society, there are a few common definitions.
Happiness = Success. Happiness = Beauty. Happiness = Wealth. Happiness = Power.
The thing about striving for happiness is that it’s a battle that never ends. “I would be happy if I just lost/gained 10 lbs.” So, you reach your goal weight. And then, “I would be happy if I had somebody special in my life.” So, you get into a relationship. And then, “I would be happy if I had a higher grades… if I had more friends… if I got into a better college.” It just. Never. Ends.
The trouble with attaching your happiness to impermanent things is that impermanent things inevitably come to an end. As author, John Ortberg so poignantly penned, ‘When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.’ In other words, when we reach the end of our lives, everything we’ve spent so long and hard accumulating to make ourselves happy ends up being worthless. What will our beloved success, beauty, wealth and power do for us then?
Before you start thinking that life has no meaning and you will never be happy, I want to assure you, that is not what I’m saying at all. Quite the contrary; there is a light at the end of the temporary tunnel!
There is a huge difference between the world’s definition of happiness and God’s definition of joy.
Happiness is directly correlated with how you feel in a particular moment. I’ve often felt happy, sad, angry, defeated, overjoyed, worried and excited all in the span of eight hours. Happiness is temporary. Happiness is fickle. Happiness is fleeting. Joy, on the other hand is something entirely different. Unlike its superficial counterpart, Joy is not dependent upon our circumstances.
The good news is that God calls us to be joyful, not happy. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NLT) But, in a world so full of drudgery, deceit and disappointment, is this really possible?
Yes, because our joy doesn’t come from the world, it comes from the Lord. The reason we are able to be joyful regardless of our circumstances is that joy isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice.
It’s a choice to trust in God’s Sovereignty even when life doesn’t seem to make any sense. It’s a choice to praise God with your lips when all you taste is bitter defeat. It’s a choice to have a grateful heart even when your heart is breaking.
We experience joy when we choose to believe in faith that God’s Promises are true, that he has a good plan for our lives and that he is committed to finishing the good work he started in us. What a deep sense of hope and joy that brings!
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty inspired. I think I’m going to start my own hashtag. #100joyfuldays. Because this whole ‘happy’ thing is so 2015.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13