Today on More2Life Radio, Lisa and I revealed what our Catholic faith and the latest studies from positive psychology have to teach us about living more joyfully.
Does God Want Us to Be Happy?
A lot of Christians question whether God wants us to be be happy. I’ve even heard people say, “God doesn’t want us to be happy. He wants us to be holy.” But as I argue in Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, the two are far from mutually exclusive. To be holy is to dedicate ourselves to pursuing a closer relationship with God. Drawing closer to God helps us to discover God’s plan for our life and when we function according to that plan, we are are happy to be functioning as we were designed to function. Authentic happiness does not stand in opposition to holiness. It is made possible by it. As Pope St. John Paul the Great put it. “People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him.“
5 Skills for Increasing Happiness in Your Life
Using the acronym STAGE (Savor, Thanks, Aspire, Give, Empathize), here are 5 skills to practice that can help you increase the joy in your daily life.
Savor–refers to our ability to pause, reflect and live life more mindfully. To savor our day mean to both recognize the blessings of the day and to reflect on the direction of our life and relationships. Savoring life allows us to really connect and be present in the moment,to enjoy each moment for what it is, and make conscious decisions about the direction of my life. Research consistently shows that the ability to be mindful is directly relatedThanks–contributes to joy by helping us be grateful. Ample research shows that simple gratitude-based activities, like keeping a daily list of 3-5 things we are genuinely grateful for, can increase our “happiness set-point” by at least 20%.
Aspire–refers to our ability to set goals and meet them. Whether setting and keeping larger life goals, or setting simple goals for the day, the more we are confident in our ability to set and meet goals the more “self-efficacy” we have. Self-efficacy refers to our capacity to know we can do what we set out to do. It goes to our sense of personal power which contributes to our experience of joy because we are less likely to feel we must simply be dragged along wherever life wants to take us.
Give–reminds us that being self-donative–being generous with our time, talent–, and treasure is an important way to remember that we have the power to contribute to the well-being of others which, in turn, makes us feel good about who we are and what we have. In Broken Gods (see chapter on The Divine Longing for Trust) I walk readers through several studies that show how generosity is a key component of joyful living.
Empathize–the more we can make true heart-to-heart connections with those who share our lives the more joy we will experience. Research consistently shows that the stronger our relationships and social networks are, the happier we will be. Empathy is the quality that transforms a host of causal acquaintances into true friends who care deeply for us and about whom we can care deeply in return.
Everyone wants to be happier. With these five skills, you can set the STAGE for greater happiness and real joy in your life. For more tips on increasing the happiness and joy in your life, check out Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.