Single, Married, Sick, Healthy, Rich, Poor? Discover how to live with happiness.
Last week I was telling my psychologist how frustrating the changes in my body are. The simple things, like I have to wait for one of my sons to come over to carry salt to the swimming pool.
She said, “change will happen, sometimes we must learn to live with change being the new normal”.
What is the secret to a happy and content life? I think it is learning to be content in whatever situation you find yourself in: single, married, sick, healthy, rich, or poor. It’s a contentment that comes from within.
Philippians 4:12 says “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”
Contentment is not conning yourself, psyching yourself up, or pretending you like what you really don’t like. That isn’t contentment — that’s fake.
Contentment is taking stock of your attitude and deciding that with Christ’s presence in you, you can cope! You can handle it! You are sufficient for the problem!
Contentment is not apathy, laziness, or complacency. If you can change a situation, you don’t need to be content and lay in it — maybe you need to get up and do something about it.
Where you really need to master the art of a learned contentment is in the situations that you can’t control: those things that are beyond you.
I had a friend Bruce who was battling cancer and every single time I caught up with him, on his best days and on his worst, the contentment he felt was tangible. Each time I asked him “how are you in here mate?” pointing to my head, or “how are you in here mate?” pointing to my heart, he would answer “it’s all good!”
My friend Bruce didn’t say that as a throw away line, he kept his peace in the midst of the storm. His faith was unwavering and anchored his soul.
So how do you do that? I have learned a couple of ways:
One is to avoid comparison.
There will always be people that make more money than you, who have greater opportunities than you have, or who have fewer problems. So what? That does not need to have any bearing on your own personal contentment.
Howard Hughes, a business magnate and Hollywood socialite, was once asked, “How much money does it take to make a man happy?” He said, “Just a little more.”
In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “We don’t look around at what we see right now, the troubles all around us. But we look forward to the joys in heaven.”
You don’t need to have what others have, be liked by everyone or have more than what you have now to be content.
I can’t afford to spend time comparing myself to other people or in the futile pursuit of more. I keep my eyes on a far greater hope and purpose.
Another is to adjust to change.
Life is full of ups and downs — emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. One thing is certain in life: change.
Change is going to happen whether you like it or not and we must be flexible because circumstances usually aren’t.
How well do you handle change? Do you get frightened? Moody? Angry? Uptight?
Your happiness in life will be largely dependant upon your ability to adapt, adjust, and be flexible.
What is the secret of a content and happy life? Learn to relax, trust God, avoid comparing yourself and adjust to change.
(Originally published as The Secret to Happiness)
April 7, 2017 at 7:57 am
So good, Phil.
Like you, I’ve thought a lot about the Bible’s teaching on contentment. It’s definitely not, as you said, living in some kind of state of denial. I like the way you put it, learning to be content with the things you cannot control. I would really struggle with the teaching if God meant giving up your hopes, dreams and planning for the future.
To me, contentment is always in the present tense – it’s good and even necessary to believe tomorrow will be better.
April 7, 2017 at 11:00 am
Great wise words yet again Phil. Having peace in one’s spirit regardless of what happens in this life is the key to “real living”. Having MND myself I’m so grateful to God and amazing friends to help me to say “all is good”!!
April 7, 2017 at 12:04 pm
Hi Phil, We have read your “Secrets to Happiness”, very inspiring. You are amazing. Rosemary & David McQuie
April 7, 2017 at 8:30 pm
Thanks Phil, I loved today’s blog!
April 7, 2017 at 8:32 pm
Fantastic Phil! Was looking forward to read your new post!
I agree with everything and experienced similar to come to a place of contentment in dispite of sickness over the last 5 years.
One thing what really helped me was to recognise and to accept that I am still living in the will of God, even God doesn’t want me to be sick. I needed to see (and not to compare with others) that God has ‘my own’ and ‘very unique’ master plan in all what I am going through. This sickness is ‘now’ a part of my story with God. So I am not coming short of life instead I am just right where I am and don’t need anything else.
This gave me new joy and hope, yes… even an ‘excitement’ about what God still has in store for my life!
Thank you Phil for writing this!
God bless you and your family!
April 7, 2017 at 11:16 pm
Thank you Phil for continuing your blog, it must take a big effort and a lot of determination. You help me on my own, slower, journey. May God continue to bless you.
April 8, 2017 at 6:59 pm
It was very heartwarming to see my brother Bruce being referred to in your post. His ability to respond in that positive way, “It’s all good” from such a precarious position sure changed my attitude to life. I wish you well in your journey with God.
April 27, 2017 at 9:51 pm