“For those who trust in the Divine all things are moving towards an everlasting state of happiness, and no matter what happens at any time to them, it contributes to that state.” Emmanuel Swedenborg
I realised that we, as human beings, all want to be happy, but sometimes striving to find that happiness can be a struggle. Most of the time I find that I’m searching for it in the wrong places or in the wrong way, when the key to finding happiness is much simpler than I think – the Lord. This passage from Psalms says it all for me:
“Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 144:15
The bible guides us to find happiness through God’s word.
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
I realised that for me the most simple path to happiness, and ultimately to God’s love, is giving to others. This doesn’t have to be material things, but sharing a laugh, a smile, or even a hug.
Very few people, if you were to sit down with them over a cup of tea or coffee, would tell you that owning everything in the world was their greatest goal in life. Whenever I have a heart to heart with a friend or relative and ask what they want out of life, most speak about love, relationships, and significance.
Our hearts are searching for something greater, more fulfilling and longer lasting. I have found that material things have the ability to make us feel happy, but that happiness is fleeting. A smile to a stranger and one in return has the power to heal even the worst of days, and stays with us for longer.
The other day I was driving to fetch my children from school, as I do every day, with a heavy heart. I dislike driving and find the amount of time I spend in a car in traffic, a burden I have to bear.
However, one day as I was waiting at yet another red traffic light, a school girl of about 14 or 15 years of age walked past, a spring in her step, smiling to herself.
The smile was infectious. I couldn’t help smiling too. I wondered what it was that made her look so content. So, I began an experiment in happiness. I was softer, gentler, kinder, and smiled more to others.
Since I spend much of my time driving and dealing with my frustration at other road users, I started there.
I started letting more people in, rather than getting angry at them pushing in. I stopped questioning their motivations and realised that I too sometimes am just in the wrong lane or decide last minute to go a different way. I forgave pushy taxi drivers, rushing to take more passengers to make more money to feed their families. I gave way more often to help the flow of traffic rather than pushing my way forward 10 more yards thinking I’d get to my destination quicker. I smiled more at other drivers and was more courteous and grateful if someone else showed me the same kindness.
The results? I was less stressed and more happy. I reached my destination in the same time but with less hassle. I spent more time in happy conversation with my children, rather than them hearing me get irate at taxi drivers or other road users. I found that if I showed kindness to another, they were more likely to pay it forward. It made me smile.
I am now trying to apply this principle in more areas of my life, however difficult that can be at times. I’m more curious instead of judgemental. I ask more questions. I try to be more understanding and show kindless and love in return. What do I get out of it? I feel happier and I find myself more connected to others and ultimately more connected to the Lord than before. I find myself more grateful to the Lord every day for small things.
My experiment then got me thinking of all the songs written about smiling and happiness. One that kept popping into my mind is a song by Nat King Cole, aptly named Smile:
“Smile though your heart is aching,
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use in crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile”
So I tell my children that the way to feel closer to the Lord is to have a helpful heart. Having a helpful heart gives us a happier life. Helping can be a smile, or a kind word to someone in need. Helping can be just understanding where someone else is at, forgiving, or saying sorry. Finding joy in the beauty of the wonderful natural world around us. Knowing that your friends and family are there to support you in those difficult times in life. Joy in the simple things and in all things that the Lord created. I am feeling happy and grateful. So smile!