I didn’t want happiness at the expense of holiness. I wanted happiness as a part of being a human created to ‘glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’
Have you ever felt guilty because, in spite of all the blessings in your life, you still were not happy? Jennifer Dukes Lee addresses the reasons for our happiness and unhappiness in her new book The Happiness Dare.
We have all heard it said that God does not want us to be happy; He wants us to be holy. This carries the connotation that, if we are happy, then we must not be holy. Lee challenges this idea because while God does want us to be holy, He also intends for us to be happy. Happiness and holiness are not mutually exclusive. She addresses the many ways God rejoices in our happiness and encourages us to look for God, not only in hard and painful times, but also in the pleasures of life. Although we tend to turn to God in our times of pain, He is as present in our pleasures. We simply need to look for Him.
When our happiness increases in manifold, God-honoring ways, we are not being selfish or sinful. The happier we are, the more we are becoming like our Savior.
Lee presents the idea that God created each of us with our own individual happiness style. This happiness style gives us our happiness sweet spot where “earthly pleasure, heavenly joy, and our unique wiring intersect.” While some of us get great joy out of thinking, planning, or reflecting, others of us experience pleasure in a job well done or a selfless act of service. My happiness style, for example, is “thinker,” and my secondary style is “relater.” I primarily like to learn and think and come up with new ideas, but then I like to tell people what I’m learning and share my ideas with others. I also have a smattering of “experiencer,” “doer,” and “giver,” in that order. Do you love to teach? Do you love to serve others by donating your time or your talents? Do you love planning family vacations? Could you spend hours watching your children play at the park? With guidance and practical tools, Lee walks us through discovering our happiness sweet spots and experiencing them to the fullest.
In embracing the gifts, we honor the Giver, because he is the one who gave them.
Lee goes on to address the “happiness hijackers” in our day-to-day lives and gives us strategies to combat them in simple and practical ways. As we take small steps to fight the hindrances to our happiness and to embrace our happiness sweet spots, we will not only gain happiness in our lives, but also grow closer to being the people God created us to be. And the happiness we will experience is not the fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of happiness but true, unhindered happiness which shines for all to see and rubs off on those around us.
It’s true what they say about candles–they lose nothing by lighting another candle. They only add to the light, in a world that feels so dark.
A few days before I read The Happiness Dare, a friend and I were laughing as we discussed our love of cake and the idea that in heaven we will eat cake every day! This made Lee’s final metaphor especially appealing to me. I encourage you to read Lee’s book. Whether you are naturally happy, are afraid to be happy, or do not know how to be happy, The Happiness Dare has something to offer you.
Happiness can be like venom to the enemy of your soul.