Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Happiness Project!

I am about to embark upon a project. I am naming it the “Happiness Project”. Recently, there was a TED talk video that was floating around Facebook and some other sites. Anyway, the title of the video was “The Happy Secret to Better Work”. I definitely was drawn by the title because for all intents and purposes, I don’t really enjoy my work. This is not the fault of my work (for the most part), it has to do with me. I just want to be a stay-at-home mom etc (no, I don’t have kids yet). Anyway, I figured the video was worth a quick watch. It was actually VERY interesting. I have embedded the file below so you all can watch it. 

Now, as a Christian, I typically don’t buy into a lot of psychological stuff because I do believe there is a large piece (if not all) of the Christian psyche that should be a result of a relationship with God. I have seen strong Christians fall into sin, and coincidentally (or not) they fall into depression, anxiety, and general unhappiness. In those cases, I think that those things are psychological effects of their sin. However, I do not believe that all depression, anxiety, and general unhappiness is a result of sin in someone’s life. With Christ in our life, we should experience joy… but joy is not the same is happiness. 
All Christians should be filled with joy. That is part of having the Holy Spirit and the hope that Christ provides us. But, at any given time, a seriously dedicated Christian could be unhappy. If a relative dies, you are not going to be happy, if you are stuck in a job you don’t like, you aren’t happy, if you have to do something you don’t want to do, you may not be happy. I know that I am definitely not happy when I have to drop $1,000 on my car! I think that happiness, often times, is a result of our environment, our personalities, and how we view the world. 

I think one of the factors that really affects happiness is not living in the present. I saw a meme on Pinterest the other day that really had me thinking. It said “If you are depressed, you are dwelling on the past, if you are anxious, you are dwelling on the future, if you are dwelling in the present, you are at peace”. Although this is not 100% true for everyone (because if you don’t have Christ you cannot fully be at peace even if you are living in the present),  it is an interesting thought. I have been told so many times in my life “you need to live in the present”. It is very true. I tend to dwell  on the past, and worse yet, I tend to romanticize the past even if it was terrible! I also then tend to dwell on what I want in the future.

As the guy says in this video, often times “happiness” is just on the other side of success,  and that “success” benchmark keeps moving. I know this is especially true for me. My “success” benchmark has moved multiple times from getting into college, to graduating college,  to getting out of Maryland, to buying a house, and finally to leaving KPMG. Guess what? I still haven’t found “happiness”. Now, of course, I am being realistic here…. no one is going to experience happiness 100% of the time. That is just not logical to think about. I am also not saying that I didn’t experience joy. I have always experienced the joy that comes from Christ. However, I think “contentment” has been lacking as I continue to drive towards the next goal. 
Anyway, in an attempt to change my daily outlook, I am going to do the following things based on the video for the next 30 days:
  1. Name 3 things during the day that you are grateful for (training your brain to look for the positive)
  2. Journal the things you are grateful for. I will be blogging them on here for you all
  3. Exercise-I can’t do this every day, but I will try to at least 6 days a week
  4. Meditation-I will spend this time meditating on God’s word and praying
  5. Random Act of Kindness-Writing one personal note of encouragement to someone during the day, or doing something kind for someone
I will be blogging my exploits here and we will see if it truly makes a difference. I am hoping it does!

Side note: I want to emphasize that God’s word has much to say on the topics of depression and anxiety. As Christians, if we are experiencing severe anxiety on a daily basis, we need to evaluate whether we are fully trusting God. Now before you get all up in arms over that statement… I am not saying that if you are anxious you clearly aren’t trusting God. I do believe that physical factors in our fallen world can affect levels of depression or anxiety. For example, sugar and caffeine make me a lot more anxious than I normally would be. I avoid caffeine (especially in coffee) like nothing else because it is ridiculous how much I freak out! Panera accidentally gave me a caffeinated latte once and I was at work just flipping out... I was so anxious.  However, that being said, you should “evaluate” the cause of your anxiety or depression if you are experiencing it. God says in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We need to be doing this! But do not be dismayed if you are experiencing anxiety, even David experienced anxiety and mentioned it several times in Psalms. Psalms 139:23 says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts”.  Ok that was a longer side note than I thought! 

So ready… set…here we go! This should be fun! At a minimum, it shouldn’t hurt!

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