«When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong; when he is cheerful, everything seems right!» Proverbs 15:15, TLB
A man cheerfully walked up and down a busy city street sidewalk. He wore faded dark pants and an old shirt that shyly peeked out from underneath a rumpled jacket. A tangled heap of hair framed his face and bright eyes that radiated joy, hope, optimism, and a desire to live. His shabby appearance didn’t prevent him from smiling kindly to passersby while cheerfully wishing them «Good morning!» Once in a while, in response, he would receive a greeting, a shy smile or a thankful look. But most people walked by and ignored him. I watched him with great interest while sitting on a bench. Suddenly, someone approached him and gave him something to drink and a snack. The man thanked him profusely and continued walking with great enthusiasm. Then I wondered, «How can this man have such a positive attitude when he doesn’t seem to have many reasons to be positive? What’s the source of his motivation?»
What do we need to be happy during this year that is barely beginning? I’ve met many people who believe that happiness can only be found in having great riches, fun, and pleasures. Of course, there are also those who, in addition to that, yearn to be powerful, to dominate others and to be everyone’s center of attention. And that’s what turns life into a desperate and frustrating race and search for what can be found at the «end of the rainbow» and which can take up the best years of our life.
The apostle Paul reminds us that happiness is a personal choice, «I am not saying this because I.am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength» (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV). Jesus also stated that those who learn to be happy with very few things, will fully enjoy the great blessings God will bestow on them when the time comes.
It’s true, happiness is a personal choice that we all have access to; and it’s not determined by race, nationality or social status. Even suffering from an illness can’t prevent us from choosing to be happy.
So choose to be happy this new year. Smile often and ask God to help you feel happy no matter the situation you’re going through.