No. 1 Happiness Killer
Number One Happiness Killer
Negativity is a happiness killer. Plain and simple.
You can have all sorts of happiness going on, but when negativity creeps into the room, that happiness disappears like Oreo cookies do around my husband. (Trust me, it’s fast.)
I have a friend who had to wait awhile to find her husband. During the wait, she prayed and prayed for the man she would marry. The longing was so deep it was like a physical ache inside her. Finally, after years of waiting, the LORD brought her husband. I expected her to be blissfully happy as she settled into married life, but instead, she couldn’t seem to focus on anything but what he was doing wrong. They didn’t have enough money. He didn’t meet her needs the way she thought he should. He didn’t talk enough. He didn’t make her feel like she thought he would. And then she found out she couldn’t have children. She prayed and she prayed and she prayed for a baby. She wept over her empty womb, and ached to hold her own baby in her arms. Against all medical odds and literally in nothing short of a miracle, she and her husband conceived. Several short months later, their baby was born perfect and whole. Instead of being happy, she wouldn’t miss an opportunity to talk about how sleep deprived she was, how difficult her labor was, or how hard it was being a new mom.
Agreed. It’s hard. Really, really hard. As are so many things in life. However, being a happy person is not about perfect circumstances and an easy life. Being happy is about choosing to focus on the good instead of getting stuck in negativity.
We can look at every situation in our life and find something to complain about. Perfection is not achieved on this side of heaven. A perfect life does not exist. All there are, are really messy, really imperfect, really real lives – and the opportunity to decide if we’re going to choose to focus on the good or the bad. There’s bound to be both.
Awhile back, I found myself with a teensy infant in the hospital NICU around an hour from our house, two small toddlers at home, a brand new business we were struggling to get off the ground (that required my husband’s full time and attention), a lot of pain, weakness, and limitations following a very difficult delivery, and very little time to recover or sleep.
Life looked a little bleak. I didn’t know if I could get through the day, much less the next months and years. On my first day home after getting released from the hospital, while I took pain pills, chased my one year old around the house, and teared up every time I thought of my three-pound preemie lying alone in the NICU, I wallowed in self-pity, staying stuck in my circumstances, completely overwhelmed by the difficult road ahead. My sister shared a story with me that day, though, about a lady who labored just a few rooms down in the same labor and delivery at the same time I was giving birth to my tiny Willow, only she labored to give birth to a baby who was already gone.
Listening to her story that day, I realized – with tears streaming down my face – that while our situation was hard, there was so much to be thankful for. While it felt like everything was going wrong, there was so much that had gone right. While it felt hard and painful, there were joy and blessings all around, if only we would focus on them. From that day on, we trudged that difficult road counting our blessings, doing what needed to be done, and remembering that above all, our baby was alive. Beyond that, nothing else mattered. (Read more about the lessons we learned from the NICU here…)
There are times, circumstances, events and seasons in our lives that are very difficult, and I am not trying to take away from that. However, a continued lifestyle of negativity has little to do with a particular season, event, etc., and has so much more to do with where we’re choosing to park our minds.
We can choose to be thankful and focus on our blessings. That’s a choice we can make in every single circumstance we’re in. And making that choice can bring us through even the most difficult situation, and back into a place of peace and happiness.
Sadly, a lot of people don’t even realize when they’re being negative. I’ve been there. I think one of the easiest ways to gauge if you’re focusing on the negative or positive, is to think about the last three conversations you had about 1.) your spouse, 2.) your children or grandchildren, 3.) your body/health, 4.) your employer, and 5.) your finances. What was your conversation like? Was it encouraging? Or critical? Did it focus on the positives or point out the negatives? Did you have to speak it in hushed tones, or were you talking loud enough for anyone to hear? Were you honoring the very things God gave you, or would Jesus cringe if He were sitting across the table from you?
I’m not preaching. I am right here in the trenches beside you. It breaks my heart, but I have used my words to curse and condemn the very things and people I have prayed for relentlessly, waited years for, wept over, and longed for. Remember that girl from my story? The one who prayed for her husband and then a baby, only to complain about how hard things were? That could have been me.
I have a wonderful life. I have an amazing husband who is literally my best friend. I have three beautiful children when I shouldn’t have had any. And I am so, so thankful. I am so blessed. And yet, there are times when I have chosen to speak and think negatively instead of with unending gratefulness for all the prayers God has answered.
This isn’t OK, and I intentionally work every single day to make sure my thoughts and words line up with my blessings. Personally, the first step is recognizing when I’m being negative and the effects of it – on my attitude, my relationships, those around me, even my own happiness. The next step is working to change it; making decisions to focus on the positive. It’s about acknowledging my blessings, keeping a grateful heart, and deciding to look for the good instead of the bad. (Read more about making decisions to be happy here…)
If negativity has been killing your happiness, too, sweet reader, make a decision today to change. Like a candle goes out when a lid is put on it, starving the flame of oxygen, put a lid of thankfulness on your negativity, smothering it with a grateful heart and focusing on the blessings God has put in your life. A perfect life does not exist, but focusing on your blessings celebrates the best parts of your life. It keeps the best parts ever before you, making the imperfections a little less important every day.
Perfection may not exist this side of heaven, but choosing to focus on your blessings can result in the same happiness that we assume can only be brought by a perfect life.
So, celebrate the best parts of your life, focus on the positives, and be happy! There is so much to be thankful for, so much that has gone right in our lives, so many blessings the Lord has given us!
This is the fifth blog in an eight week series on happiness. To make sure you don’t miss the next three, sign up for my newsletter!