I love the holidays! The lights, decorating the tree, the gifts… ah, I love the whole thing. However, I realize there are many for whom the holidays bring profound sadness. Perhaps because of lost loved ones or broken dreams, when the holidays roll around, anxiety and depression increase.
Recently in my early morning time with Jesus I read these words, “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3). Those words ‘happy and joyful’ jumped off the page at me because, in the circles of faith in which I grew up, happiness was definitely downplayed. I often wondered, “Does God want us to be happy?”
I believe God does want us to be happy. Way back at Creation, He placed man and woman in a gorgeous garden filled with everything they would need to be delighted. Obviously, sin entered the world and things took a downward spiral. Because of violence, disappointments, sickness, and sorrows, humanity has suffered. While we grieve, though, we want to hold on to hope. Part of that is finding moments of happiness along the way.
While for some, the holidays provide those moments of happiness, for others they are filled with more triggers of sadness. What’s the answer? How do you keep your spirits up?
Here’s my prescription for a happy holiday season!
Serve. Find a place to serve others. Paul wrote in Philippians 2 that we are to have the attitude of Christ who came to serve. We often forget this. The media, particularly during the holidays, tells us that in order to be happy we must purchase this or that. Jesus lived very simply, but found great delight in serving others. Research actually confirms what scripture teaches: those who serve others are happier than those who don’t. If you’re struggling with depression this holiday season, find someone to serve. Find one way to serve every day.
Connect. Those who are the happiest enjoy deep relationships. Depression or anxiety often entices people to withdraw and isolate. But, that is the exact opposite of what brings happiness. God designed us to connect. He wired us with the need for community. Find your people and spend time connecting with them. When you’re struggling with depression or sadness, be sure to connect at least 3 times a week with friends or family. Pick up the phone and invite a friend for coffee. Or simply ask the other person how they are doing. Even when you feel too tired to reach out, often that is exactly what you need to re-energize. If you need tips for how to connect, write down a few questions relative to family, work, or recent activities. Then use those questions in your conversation. In order to live a happy life, we need close relationships.
Praise. If you’re in a season of sadness, shift your focus to the goodness of God. Spend 20 minutes per day praising God for who He is. He is almighty, good, holy, loving, and kind. When you shift your focus to praise, the Holy Spirit quickens your emotions. You could also throw in walking or running while you praise, which ignites your endorphins. You’ll discover true joy as you praise Him. Intentionally praising God is the greatest happiness boost I’ve experienced. If you don’t believe me, try it!
As you try these happiness hacks, know that I am praying. May you be filled with happiness and joy as we enter Advent.
Today is the last day for the 50% off of all my books at Moody!
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast we’re talking about filling your home with joy with best-selling author Linda Evans Shepherd.