Do you feel happy? How long has it been since you felt geniuine happiness? How can we find happiness in a world with so many unhappy circumstances? Max Lucado explores these questions from a religious perspective in his recent 2019 book How Happiness Happens (ISBN: 978-1404112261). This book is perfect for anyone searching for ways to add geniune, contagious, infectious, and unstoppable happiness to their lives.
Lucado’s secret to a happy life? It is more beneficial to give rather than to get. To be happy, you need to focus on others. He frames his lessons on happiness around “one another” statements:
- Encourage one another.
- Bear with one another.
- Regard one another as more important.
- Greet one another.
- Pray for one another.
- Serve one another.
- Accept one another.
- Admonish one another.
- Forgive one another.
- Love one another.
Each “one another” statement is centered in scripture and accompanied by engaging anecdotes that encourage the reader to keep reading more.
One of the biggest takeaways from this book is that people find happiness by making others happy. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35
Another lesson that is beautifully depicted is loving others as God first loved us is vital to happiness. When we let the love of God fill our hearts and souls, we see people differently and we can appreciate the beauty of the stories they have to tell. By loving and serving others as God first loved us, we can find happiness. “Happiness happens when you offer to others the grace you’ve been given” (p. 145).
A third lesson that Lucado teaches is that prayer is necessary. We are ambassadors of God. It is our duty to represent His love and His light. When we embrace our roles, we can speak to God and He will speak to us. He will lay concerns and passion on our hearts, and we in turn must pray. One of the lines in the book that spoke to me most was “God burdens you with a concern for orphans, distant lands, or needy people. Respond to these promptings by prayer” (p. 83). When God places something on your heart, pray. “We can do much after we pray, but we can do nothing until we pray” (p. 85). Pray and then act. Keep God at the center of your life, while serving, loving, admonishing, and encouraging others, and you will find happiness. Find a way to serve others that ignites your soul, and you will find happiness.*
Happiness is not material. It cannot be purchased. BUT it can be achieved. Anyone who wants a greater understanding of How Happiness Happens should read Lucado’s book in full. In addition to the main text, the book includes “The Happiness Challenge” (a 40 day challenge meant to increase your happiness level), questions for reflection, Lucado’s 10 personal thoughts on happiness, and 10 scriptures to find encouragement.
*I have found myself in the last month, the happiest I have been in years. What have I changed? I have started attending church regularly and have been working on my relationship with God. I have tried to remain optimistic, even when stressed. I have greeted people, even people I don’t know. I have prayed more and I have spent time praying for others. I have taken more time to spend with my husband and for us to grow as a couple. I have taken more time to do things that makes my heart happy (writing, blogging, reading). I have started volunteering again. I have continued to go to therapy and do my “homework” (many of the things I have listed above) to improve my emotional health. Things are not perfect, but I am so blessed I am happier and in a better state than I was a year ago or even a few months ago. Lucado’s book helped me understand that happiness can be achieved, but to get happiness we must give to others. I am trying to start my days with, “How can I be of service to others?” Be it my students, co-workers, family, friends, or strangers — I want to be ready to serve.