If You Want to Be Happy, Don’t….

… From Jonathan Mead:

In reality, it’s the tension of your mind that causes unhappiness.  If you’re not happy, it’s because your mind is focused on something that’s making you unhappy.  And why is your mind doing this?  Because you’re stuck in a viciouscycle of misdirected judgment, productivity and purpose that has you thinking about every imaginable time and place, except right here, right now.  That’s not to say being productive is irresponsible, or that pursuing goals that have a purpose is wrong.  The problem occurs when you base your entire reason for living on a point in time – an activity or achievement – that doesn’t yet exist. ….

Sometimes…

  • The smartest way to be happy with the place you live is to stop chasing the mansion you see on HGTV with five bedrooms, a pool, a fireplace, and a three-car garage.
  • The best way to solve the problem of not having lots of friends is to stop worrying about having more, and instead appreciate the few good ones you do have.
  • The simplest way to be content with yourself is not to achieve high admiration and praise from others, but to accept yourself fully for who you are now.
  • The quickest route to happiness is to stop the pursuit of finding happiness and start the process of being happiness.

By letting go a little we immediately release ourselves of the grasping tension of the mind.  But it’s not easy to stay in this mindset (the mind loves to hold on); it’s something we have to constantly cultivate.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Anthony

    Scot, one of the statements I hear often but have a big issue with is, “accept yourself fully for who you are now,” as a response to shame or discontentment with oneself. How does this acceptance and contentment with “who I am now” go with our call to become more and more like Christ, which is an unreachable goal and vanishing horizon?

  • Andrew

    Anthony, I see both as inter-related. The best servers are people who are content in their own skin. Someone who consistently tears themselves down is not going to have great success in relationship with others. Concurrently, I think personal acceptance shouldn’t equate to “contentment with one’s own lot”, for you are right Jesus calls us to always strive to do better and go the extra mile. I think it just partially depends on the semantics and how one views these words.

  • http://www.theogeek.com Ben Hammond

    Anthony, in my own life that exact step that you have a problem with is, at some points, the only place with which there was then space for actual change to happen.

    Where constant striving, discontentment, and shame only led to paralysis, radical self acceptance has laid the groundwork for great growth and change.

  • http://www.alanallard.com Alan Allard

    This is an important topic for every one of us. Shame is about rejecting ourselves and feeling less than, not good enough and “broken” in some way. That’s not the way Christ related to those who flocked around him. They were drawn to him because he accepted them fully the way they were and then gave them a vision for being more of who they were created to be.

    I wrote a book on the topic of happiness have given a lot of thought to that topic and to the topic of shame. Jonathan has made some excellent and practical points.

  • Ron

    The two best presentations that I’ve EVER heard on this subject matter were given by Brene Brown. They are entitled “The Power of Vulnerability” and “Listening to Shame”. You can access them at http://www.ted.com/speakers/brene_brown.html

    With great style, humor and vulnerability she answers the following questions. How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

    These two talks are 20 minutes each. Don’t miss these, they are true gems.

  • gingoro

    What about those who live with chronic health problems? The above list has nothing to do with their unhappiness. Living with nausea day after day takes any sense of goodness out of existence.
    DaveW

  • Doug Allen

    Our happiness is not the goal. How can one be happy when so many are hurting. Jesus and Buddha taught and modelled behaviors that help.


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