The Truth about Happiness (And 5 Things You Need To Know About Being Intentional)

  

  

What makes you happy? I mean really, really happy. I’m talking about the kind of happiness that engulfs you in a warm glow of contentment that seeps down into your marrow and fills you with well-being. The kind of happiness that energizes, makes you believe you can do anything in that moment, and that everything is going to work out somehow, someway.

How do you capture that kind of happiness? How do you hold on to it?

What steals your happiness?

You have an enemy. You may be aware of him; you may not. He hates you and he tries to sabotage you on a daily basis.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8, NKJV)

How does he do that?

He keeps you busy. He keeps you overwhelmed. He makes you believe that everyone else’s needs are more important than your own. Self-improvement and self-care are selfish. He doesn’t want you to know God’s beautiful plan for your life. He doesn’t want you to live life to the fullest.

He doesn’t want you to be purposeful about anything that might lead to joy, peace and contentment.

Instead he feeds you a lie that goes something like this…

“You can be happy. You deserve to be happy.”

The pursuit of happiness is a never-ending quest for the unattainable

What is happiness? Your enemy would have you believe that happiness is just five pounds away, the next job or promotion away, the next purchase away, the next relationship away.

And you’ve bought the lie. I’ve bought the lie.

The idea of happiness is tantalizing. Something or someone can make us happy if we just strive, work, or wish hard enough. But is that true?

Think about it for a moment. Happiness is an emotion that you usually feel when life circumstances are optimal. Pursuing happiness, however, keeps you focused on…yourself. It makes you think about what you don’t have, versus what you want. When the scale tips towards the “don’t have” side, your happiness quotient is diminished. That suggests that to not be happy is not okay.

In reality we can experience fleeting moments of happiness that are linked to circumstances or experiences. But the pursuit of happiness itself is a waste of energy.

So stop chasing it.

Instead, let it become the by-product of something far more valuable and attainable.

A life lived with purpose and intention, God’s way, leads to happiness

You may be busy. You may be productive. But are you intentional about what you are producing? Here are five ways to know. Intentional living is:

1. Destination oriented

To be intentional you need an outcome or a destination in mind. In order to have that you need to understand your ultimate purpose—God’s purpose for you. Once you have that, you have direction; you have a road map for life. Every decision you make from that point forward can intentionally lead you toward that final destination. Every time you steer off course you can recognize it and make the necessary corrections.

2. “Big picture” focused

I want you to think BIG, “beyond this lifetime” big. What does life after death look like? What does God’s word say about that? The clearer your vision of what your ultimate future potentially looks like, the more real it becomes. Then, work backwards. Determine how your day-to-day life supports that future. Are you making the individual moments of your day move you in that direction? Or are you becoming bogged down by the meaningless and mundane?

You can create your day, or your day can create you

3. Strategic

To be intentional you need a plan, a strategy, for how you’re going to reach your destination. That strategy is based on your core beliefs, the backbone of your strategy. From those beliefs or values, you formulate your goals and develop routines that will turn into habits; habits that either strategically support you, or not. Those habits, over time, form your character. So being strategic means determining to be the kind of person God wants you to be.

3. Aligned

Intentional living, the type that leads to sustainable happiness, is aligned with God’s word. There’s no other way. If you don’t do it God’s way, then your enemy has won. He’s tricked you into believing that there are many paths to happiness. There aren’t. There is only one path.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3, NIV)

4. Implemented

Intentional living means doing what you say you’re going to. It’s not enough to intend to do something. Good intentions without good actions are meaningless. You implement by setting goals that are clearly measurable and broken down into daily operational goals or tasks. Scheduling a daily appointment with yourself will help you to set those intentional goals and figure out the best ways to implement them into your life.

5. Evaluated

Give yourself a report card now and then. How are you doing with your intentions? What needs to be tweaked/shifted/realigned? Ask others around you to give you feedback. That means that you need to share your intentions. Having others who know what you’re trying to achieve, who believe in and support you and aren’t afraid to be honest, is paramount to keeping you on the path you intended.

Who cares if you’re intentional about life or not?

Do you know why you want to live with intention?

Does it even matter? Why not just go with the flow? Don’t plan, don’t be intentional, just be open to experiences.

Think of it this way. If you were adrift at sea, and the current was pulling you farther away from the shoreline, wouldn’t you want some way to change your direction? Wouldn’t you want to be very intentional about that?

Sometimes life can feel like you’ve been set adrift. You start out with the intention of going somewhere, only to find yourself nowhere near it.

Are you moving closer to your destination, or further away?

What happened? How did you get off course? Is it even worth the effort to change direction?

I’ve heard them all before…all the excuses for why we don’t think we can make changes or live with more intention.

“I just don’t have time…”

“I can’t afford it…”

“I don’t see how it will benefit me…”

“My family comes first…”

I’ve heard them, and I’ve used them.

Consider these questions:

  • Why does your life matter and what about your life matters most to you?

  • Are the choices you’re making daily aligned with those priorities?

  • If time, money and circumstances were all fully within your control, what would you immediately change?

  • Who (besides you) would benefit from you making these immediate changes, and why?

  • What steps can you implement right now that will begin turning your ideal into your reality?

Count the cost and then invest

It’s true. There’s a cost to living intentionally. Things will change. Your relationships will change. Some people won’t like it.

Your enemy will hate it.

But if you want to be happy—if you want to live a life rich with meaning and purpose—then that means investing in yourself. It takes time, commitment, perseverance and yes…money!

Put your money where your intentions are…

Purposeful financial decisions that help you to learn, grow and apply newfound knowledge are always a good investment. That may mean getting a degree, buying a book that will help you learn a necessary skill or investing in a coaching plan that shows you how to live intentionally.

You are a good investment.

God thinks so. Your loved ones know so. Perhaps you’re the only one struggling to believe it.

I don’t know if you truly need a new car, or a bigger TV or another pair of shoes. I do know they won’t buy you happiness.

True happiness is attainable. More importantly, God wants you to be happy!

Your enemy doesn’t. He wants to distract you, tantalize you with the idea that you can obtain happiness apart from God, apart from living life with meaning and intention. And he’s magnificent at it!

But God’s plan for you WILL make you happy…if you live it.

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Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4, NIV

 

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