“I’m not happy!”
How many times have you proclaimed your discontent with the circumstances of your life? When was the last time you voiced your unhappiness, inwardly or outwardly, with your life situation, relationships, responsibilities or current challenges?
Unhappiness, dissatisfaction and discontentment are at epidemic proportions in our culture. Notwithstanding all of the comforts, conveniences and opportunities around us, most people struggle with some degree of irritation and agitation about their lot in life. The common mantra in the minds and mouths of many is, “I would be happy if _____________________ !” People are on a perpetual journey for the “perfect” job, spouse, friend, house, church, vacation …. They are looking for the “magic medicine” that will cure most, if not all of their frustrations, and resolve the restlessness in their soul.
Here is the bad news –– perfection doesn’t exist in this world. The search for a “perfect life” always leads to a dead end. It is an expectation that will always be disappointed. It is a sure way to live an unhappy life.
But there is some good news. Although perfection is impossible in this life, happiness isn’t! God has prescribed the path to happiness. We get there by practicing certain attitudes –– the attitudes of contentment and gratitude.
To be “content” is to be satisfied with what we have. It is to look for the blessings God has given us, and to express our gratitude to Him for them. It is the changing of our perspective from concern over what we want but don’t have to true appreciation for the good things we do have. This shift produces a radical change in our feelings, decisions and interactions with others.
Although these attitudes run counter to our human nature, they can be learned. Take a look a what the Bible says about them:
“… For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” — Philippians 4:11
“… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation …” — Philippians 4:12
“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” — 1 Timothy 6:8
“… Be content with what you have … ” — Hebrews 13:5
“I will thank the Lord at all times. My mouth will always praise Him.” — Psalm 34:1 (GW)
Contentment and gratitude go together. Contentment declares, “I’m going to stop focusing on deficits. I’m going to look at the assets in my life!” Then gratitude takes over. It is an attitude that becomes an action. When we are grateful, we appreciate the kindnesses, benefits and blessings we have received and communicate our thankfulness to those responsible for them.
Have you been battling with unhappiness lately? The way to happiness is not a change in your outward circumstances, it is a change in your inward attitude! The secret to happiness is a spirit of contentment demonstrated through expressions of gratitude.
Go ahead, start counting your blessings. Take your mind off of the things you don’t have. Get busy thanking God and others for the good in your life. And don’t be surprised when a new level of satisfaction sweeps over your soul!