Thanksgiving, part 3 of 5

The choice

Have you ever seen a toddler trying—with loud frustration—to make the square block fit into the round opening? Whack! Smack! “AAAAAAAHHH!!!”  That makes me think about some of the funny photos, bloopers and outtakes I’ve seen….

The toddler holding the square block was thinking Hey! I know how I want this to work. Why isn’t it working?

Turning around
In a similar way, have you ever found yourself driving the wrong way on a one-way street? When you realize that you’ve made a wrong turn and what the consequences might be, that’s scary. You frantically look for a way to get turned around or off that one-way street.

Sometimes—in life and relationships—we get turned around or headed in the wrong direction. Now that we’ve seen the truth about the sociopaths (and people with other personality disorders) who’ve been in our lives, and we’re wisely choosing to leave Sociopathville—The War Zone—let’s turn our attention to some other life-changing decisions that will help us on The Healing Journey.

The happy formula
Since rightly-oriented thankfulness gives me contentment and happiness, which lead to peace, all of these concepts—rightly-oriented thankfulness, contentment, happiness and peace—are linked to the concept of truth. And that, Peaceful Readers, is a radical, crucial concept. Happiness comes from truth—not from circumstances; success; personal fulfillment; popularity; beauty; money; power; the “right” boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife; etc.

Happiness comes from truth.

My rightly-oriented thankfulness—my thankfulness to God—acknowledges that he’s done countless good (and great) things for me. When I see and embrace that truth, my thankfulness to God flows unhindered, unrestrained. The blessing of that natural outpouring of thankfulness is my own contentment, happiness and peace. As my contentment, happiness and peace grow, my thankfulness grows. All these blessings grow and expand, hinged on the foundation—my rightly-oriented thankfulness.

Because… = happy
The Happy Formula hinges on the word because. It sounds like this:

“Because I see the good things God has done for me and given to me, I see God, I trust God, I love God, I thank God. Because I thank God, I experience more good things—contentment, happiness and peace. Thank you, God! I know that every good gift comes from you.”

Breaking it down
The core thought in The Happy Formula is “Thank you.”

Truth + rightly-oriented thankfulness → contentment and happiness → peace

The unhappy formula
Sadly, most of us get The Happy Formula backwards, so we end up living—daily—The Unhappy Formula. We desperately long to be happy. Because we aren’t happy, we aren’t thankful. We look around and see other people feeling (or appearing) happy, and we don’t understand why we aren’t happy too.

Something slips in—something dangerous to our souls. The Greek playwright Euripides called it “the greatest disease among men.” What is this dangerous disease? Envy. “If I had this or that like so-and-so, I’d be happy too. But I don’t have it, so I’m not happy….”

If and when… = unhappy
The word if has no place in The Happy Formula. Ditto for the word when. We talked about this popular train of thought—this lie—in part 2 of Thanksgiving: I’ll be thankful when I’m happy, and I’ll be happy when….  If and when formulas don’t add up to happiness. They expand like this:

“If only I had ______________ (i.e., something I don’t have now), that something would be enough for me. That something would change me. I would become a happy, complete person if I had it. After becoming happy, I’d be thankful for the thing/person/experience that made me happy and complete.”

Breaking it down
The crux of this wrong thinking goes like this: “I am incomplete because I want/need/deserve something I can’t or don’t have.” In other words: “I want it.”

Lies + ingratitude → discontentment and unhappiness → chaos and/or despair

Created to be together
When we truthfully see the amazing goodness that’s already in our lives, we realize that happiness has been available to us all along. We just didn’t see life rightly. We were pouting, angry, envious, selfish, discontent, broken. We were disconnected from our Creator and the way he created us to be—in a meaningful, trusting, reverent relationship with Him.

State of mind = state of living
When we live in a state of rightly-oriented thankfulness, we experience long-term happiness—focused on thanking God for the good things we already have. By contrast, when we live in a state of longing for something (i.e., “I want it”), we experience long-term unhappiness—focused on what we don’t have.

If you’ve been unhappy lately, I hope you’ll embrace rightly-oriented thankfulness as your new state of mind and your new way of life.

The choice
You may be thinking: What about the sociopaths I’ve been dealing with? What about that big mess?

Yep. I’ve been there.

The question and the answer
Here is a question from Boundaries 101 that must be answered, whether you’re still living in The War Zone or whether you’ve walked away like we did.

Is someone else or something else responsible for my happiness or am I responsible? Who’s responsible for my thoughts and choices? I am.

I. Am. Responsible.

Blessings—received or refused
When I choose to adore and worship the highest and greatest thing—God, my Creator—I am richly blessed… not materially, but with the things that really matter—contentment, happiness and peace. When I choose to adore and worship anything else—another “god,” another thing, another person (including myself), another “prize”—I’ve chosen poorly, and I will live in a state of longing and wanting—discontent and unhappy—resulting in chaos and/or despair.

If you’ve been choosing poorly, thinking if or when kinds of thoughts about happiness, maybe it’s time for you to make the one choice that satisfies the soul, that fills the emptiness, that brings life—new life. Choose Jesus.

Coming next: In part 4 of Thanksgiving, we’ll compare and contrast some close relatives, Happiness and Joy. We’ll also learn about the connection between joy and strength.

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Hebrews 10:1-25

Song for Healing: “At the Cross” by Chris Tomlin

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