Ever since we’re young, we’re told that happiness is the key to almost everything in life. With that inculcated in our minds, we grew up knowing that life is nothing without happiness. Happiness is what makes us complete, it’s what keeps us going.
If we are to ask Wikipedia about what happiness is, it’ll say: “happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being.”
And who among us here doesn’t know Joy from the movie inside out? That lovely protagonist who was the leader of Riley’s emotions? I bet if not all, most of us know her. Her goal was to make sure Riley stays happy and positive in life. Without her in control, all other emotions crash, that made Riley feeling uncertain, anxious, fearful, disgusted and easily angered.
Happiness is like a salt, without it, life is tasteless.
We all know that happiness is associated with smiles and laughter. That is true most of the time. That’s because laughter is how happiness is most often expressed. But that is not always the case. True happiness can have many other expressions. I’m going to share a few things that can make us see happiness in a different perspective.
1. True happiness sometimes means tears.
Happiness isn’t always about chuckles and giggles. Sometimes, it means tears. When you are truly happy, sometimes that overflowing emotion you feel is expressed with tears - no matter how hard you try to control it. I’m sure many of us can easily name memories in our lives where we were at our happiest. I can easily name two of those delightful moments.
One of those was when I married the man that I know I love so much – the man I knew I can’t live without. After we were pronounced husband and wife, we both cried (and I even get teary-eyed right now just by writing this!). We were ecstatic, that even a smile is not enough to express how happy we were. The fact that we were there, making our vows, in front of God and in front of our family and friends - everyone was happy for us, we felt so blessed! It was such a wonderful moment that we will definitely be keeping for the rest of our lives.
The same happiness was what I felt the first time I laid my eyes on our firstborn. As someone diagnosed with partial placenta previa when I was pregnant, we knew there was a possibility of an emergency C-section during delivery. My OB-Gyn has already set our expectations on that few weeks before my due date. We kept on praying for it not to happen, not only because of financial reasons but also because of the recovery time – I needed to go back to work as soon as I possibly could.
Things were a lot different when labor happened. I went inside the delivery room at around 11:00 am, still looking fine and comfortable, only to find out that I was already 4 cm dilated. My labor happened so quickly, that the pain of childbirth wasn’t gradual. And because the pain was not able to transition properly, my body was in abrupt agony after just about 30 minutes of staying in the labor room. No amount of pain reliever could take the ache away from me. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced!
Nothing but prayer, and no one but the Lord in my head when I was told I to push the baby out. With the remaining strength that I had, I pushed with all my might and gave all my trust in God – that everything would all be fine.
I never heard his first cry…
I woke up feeling clueless of what happened. Even when I was still too sleepy, I managed to look around. Right then and there I realized I was not in the same room where I gave birth anymore. My stomach felt empty, I was told not to move as I had stitches. I was anxious; I thought I had an emergency C-section so I asked. I was relieved when I learned that I was able to deliver normally.
With an unclear vision, I watched from afar and saw two babies being taken care of; I didn’t know which of those babies was mine. I was so nervous, I couldn’t hide my excitement. When he was finally given to me, I was in complete awe! I poked his cheeks to make sure everything was real; I almost didn’t notice the tears that fall down my eyes because of overwhelming joy!
Happiness is not just about laughter; sometimes it is expressed through bucketful of tears!
2. True happiness means seeing others happy
When you offer a helping hand to others and you see that what you did made them happy, you get that inner joy and satisfaction that you can never explain. Isn’t it great to be able to see other people gratified because of what you did to them?
Every year, we’d conduct Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) in our church in Payatas, QC during summer. We’d invite kids to join and learn about Jesus and His love for us. Our DVBS lasts for about 4-6 days. Many kids would enrol and be excited to join our classes. Our DVBS team is composed of dedicated youth and parents who volunteer to give their time to teach these kids and be of help in the ministry. I was one of the teachers a few years back, but now, I am an adviser to the new DVBS team. During the entire DVBS class, we would teach kids new songs, we’d sing, learn bible stories, do arts and crafts, review the lessons and enjoy an appetizing snack together before the class adjourns.
I’m hoping to be more involved in our DVBS next year; a 3-day leave is what I need in order to make that happen. I think it’ll be great; specially that Nate is getting bigger. I want my son to experience the joy of attending DVBS.
Many say we often feel happier around children. Why? One of the reasons is because children appreciate even the simplest things in life. They smile more, they worry less. If we are to use an example of genuine happiness, it’s definitely the children. If we can be as positive as these innocent children, we’ll surely be a lot happier!
Children are the best example of true happiness: they smile more and worry less.
3. True happiness means contentment and serenity
My exposure to DVBS and Sunday School in the past made me realize that happiness doesn’t have to be costly. Our happiness depends on how we value life and everything that’s happening around us. These little children we teach in DVBS are not rich – most of them even live “below-average” lives, financially speaking, but that didn’t stop them from being happy!
Some people think that if they satisfy themselves with the things they want to get in life, they will be happy. And we know that can be true, however, there are many rich people who can get everything that they want but are still miserable. Why is that? It’s because “wants” never stop. If you want something and you get it, later on, you’ll see that you’ll want even more: you’ll want something bigger, nicer, and more extravagant. That’s the reality of a life without contentment. You are only happy for a short period of time, then later on, you desire for more. However, if we learn to be contented with what we have, we begin to see true happiness.
Happiness doesn’t mean getting everything we want but wanting everything that we get.
Not all that frowns are sad and not all that smiles are happy. Some people are mistaken as “snob” and “woeful” just because they don’t smile often - it's not always true. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are people who are quiet and reserved but are still inwardly blissful. They may not be smiling too often, which could just be their personality, but you can see they live in tranquility.
The bible teaches us that godliness with contentment brings true happiness. It is with the help of God that we can rejoice in spite of the obstacles in life. It’s because of His grace that we “glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 5:3-4). Happiness is not just about the splendid and awesome things in life, it is also our ability to deal with the negative things that surround us. Even in difficult times, we can still have the peace of mind – the inner joy knowing that bad things don’t last long and that good things will come soon.
Life can sometimes seem so hard for us to handle. We may experience problems every day, some can be so huge, and we wouldn’t even know how to deal with them anymore. May this remind us that sometimes, what we only need to do is let go – and let God. Our positivity and faith in Him can make us calm in spite of any storms that life might bring. If we learn to cast all our anxieties on Him and learn to appreciate every little things in life, we can experience true happiness. And that happiness doesn’t have to be bought.