My friend and I chatted in a coffee shop enjoying (I thought) our lattes. Mid-conversation, my friend pinched an indent into her foam cup, leaned toward me, and intently asked, "Are you happy? Most Christian women I know … we're not happy."
Her question prompted me to think about happiness—how it comes and goes. In the coffee shop, I felt reasonably happy. I was sipping a yummy mocha latte. I'd met my week's paper-grading quota. However, in my line of work as a teacher, grading reprieves are temporary. Papers pile up as fast as laundry. And I can't enjoy a calorie-rich coffee drink every day, or the creeping scale readout will make me cringe.
But even when I'm sipping black coffee, surrounded by piles of ungraded papers and laundry, I don't consider myself unhappy. I've learned that happy feeling comes when I indulge in four experiences from God.
1. Enjoy Perspective
Some days a raging river of emotion courses through me. My thoughts and actions hurtle like floating debris on a roaring current. I feel agitated. I think, This house is a mess. I work too hard. My husband and kids are ungrateful slobs. I long to act constructively; instead I shuffle from room to room unable to select a project to tackle. So I eat some chocolate.
Another day, gladness seeps through me. I think, I own nice things and live in a sturdy house with people I adore. On that day, I'm inclined to act productively. I make a list, prioritize my projects, tackle them in order, and eat less chocolate.1