What does happiness mean to you? Is it the unbridled emotion of love you feel when you stare into your new baby's eyes? That warm tingly feelings your experience when your significant other's hand gently brushes your arm? Is it that satisfied feeling of knowing your did your best work and others noticed? Or can it be something as simple as a warm mug with your beverage of choice on a cold winter's day? Its probably all of these things and more. Sadly, so many of us seemed to be denied these essences of happiness, and the world seems to be a very dreary and fear-filled place.
Its almost frightening to watch the news - natural disasters, crime and violence, sickness and death seems to be the order of the day. There does not appear to be a safe haven amidst the turmoil, and many people appear to losing heart because of the times. But there is good news! We can still find joy in the little things and peace even when the bigger things seem out of control. Science proves that happiness is possible and in fact a recent study of African American women in the US south found that when certain facets in their lives were properly aligned, they were more than happy, they had an intense feeling of well-being.
These women indicated that when they felt supported, had good work-life balance, were self-aware, had opportunities to work autonomously and experienced feelings of thriving and appreciation, they felt happy. In addition, they all held strong religious beliefs and when they had the chance to give back through acts of altruism, they were truly happy. There are a number of studies that support the benefits of happiness or well-being and in many ways, these studies overlap with the themes found with the study of African American women. The good news is, this can include you - you can find your happy.
You can take charge and begin a new chapter in your story but as with these women, you have to find a foundation upon which to live. They had a religious connection and when you leave the writing of you up to a higher power, your life will become your bestseller. When we look unto Jesus who is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2) for our happiness - how can our story be anything but? It does on the other hand take more than faith in an all loving God - we saw that in the research with the women. They learned how to have balance in their lives, gave back to others and enjoyed the benefits of social support, self-awareness, autonomy and feelings of thriving.
Your happiness story has many chapters - what can you do today to begin writing it? What can you do to kick-start your joy? What are the things that drain away your feelings of love, mirth and contentment? Its time to do self review - it will be interesting what you find.