The dictionary’s definition of the word happy is “Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” As you read that definition, do you think your life resembles those words? Are you content? When people pass you on the street, do they see someone enjoying life or feeling low?
As I was walking my dog, Joey, earlier tonight, I was hit with a realization about living a happy life. For the past two days, I’ve been listening to a book called, Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain by David Hanscom, MD. The book’s focus is about bringing people who are suffering from chronic pain to a place of understanding that their nervous system plays a crucial role in their recovery. For years, David Hanscom had patients returning after spinal surgery, claiming that their pain was still there. After doing an in-depth study of the human body when it’s in pain, David learned how the brain processes mental and physical pain, causing our bodies to feel like the injury or problem is still present.
This book has been an enlightening listen, and as I was walking Joey tonight, a light bulb went off! Dr.Hanscom was sharing a story about one of his patients. The man was eighty-years-old and always seemed peaceful and content. When Dr.Hanscom asked the man why he was so happy, the man responded by sending David an email containing a quote that he believed was essential to enjoying life:
“I am whole and powerful. I am loving and harmonious. I am forgiving and happy. I am at peace.”
Some might read this phrase and think it strange, but there is profound truth in these words. As Dr.Hanscom says, “If you are whole, you don’t have to expend energy filling in the gaps; the result is power to live your life. Love is often described as the absence of fear; harmony is the result. It’s impossible to be happy without forgiveness. You won’t be at peace without all of the above.”
As Believers, we can also resonate with these words. When our identity is in the Father, and our faith is secure, we are whole and aren’t using up energy searching for what is missing from our lives. It says in the Bible that we are to love others, and when we learn from Yeshua’s sacrifice on the cross what it means to love, we will find harmony. God has forgiven us so many times, and mastering the art of forgiveness is key in leading a life of peace and freedom.
After I heard this phrase for the first time, the words that came into my mind were, “I am not a victim; I am an overcomer.” Too often, we allow ourselves to become the victim in situations that we have no control over. Life throws us many curve-balls, but our response is what creates the reaction.
Everyone wants to live a life of fulfillment and happiness, but many fail. There have been countless moments in my life where I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and admit defeat, but with God’s guidance and my determination, I haven’t let that stop me. Skipping down the street with my dog in tow, I felt utterly free and weightless. We can’t let what other people think to affect how we live our lives. While I was skipping, did I care if people were looking at me? Yes. Did that stop me? No!
Anxiety and self-consciousness have taken the rein on too many people. I genuinely believe that we are our worst enemy. When we escape into our minds, we talk ourselves into believing lies. We allow our minds to tell us all the reasons why we don’t deserve to do what we’ve been working towards or that we’ll never be good enough for the people we love. These are all lies of Satan! The devil has had his foothold on us for too long, and tonight I am here to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!”
If you are struggling through hard times, suffering from chronic pain, or trying to cope with anxiety, I want to tell you that there is hope and you will find the peace you’re after; however, none of that can be accomplished if you don’t love yourself and know who you are (including your identity in the Kingdom of God and the calling He has placed on your life), be loving towards others, and forgive those who might not deserve your forgiveness. It says in the Bible that we are to forgive people seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). I know how hard it can be to forgive those who have wronged us, but the moment we realize that it’s up to God to judge their hearts, we can let go of the burden that had been weighing heavily on our hearts. However, when we forgive others, that doesn’t mean we need to keep them in our lives. We can be loving while saying goodbye; don’t stay in a situation where you’re having to forgive someone continually, never seeing progress or change.
I will never stop quoting Rachel Hollis! I love what she said in her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are!”
I’ve written it in bold because this truth has changed my life! I still get upset and allow others to affect my day, but I’m slowly learning to shake it off and remember that others cannot ruin my day unless I allow them to. Tonight, I can honestly say that I am happy, content, pleasant, and peaceful. My parting question is, are you truly happy? If the answer is no, then it might be time to examine what is making you unhappy. Start by writing your thoughts out in a journal and letting everything you’ve been holding in out. It’s time to live a truly free life and not allow the chains of bitterness, pain, hurt, loneliness, and anxiety, to continue to push you under the water. Reach your hand out of the water and grasp the hand that is reaching for you!