Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” That’s true, and I’ve met quite a few people in the latter category. I want to be in the former group. We cannot always be happy, for some days are overshadowed with care. But we can be cheerful, not sour; and joyful, not bitter. I’ve found three quotes that speak to this point:
- A man is as unhappy a he has convinced himself he is–Seneca
- A person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be–Abraham Lincoln
- I feel it my duty to be as happy as the Lord wants me to be–Robert Murray McCheyne
We should build cheerfulness into our daily routines. Here are two suggestions. In the morning, sing a verse of a hymn on your way to work. You can sing more if you want, but I only have time for one verse since I have a short commute. I walk out my front door, around the house, and into the basement entrance of my study. But I’ve found it very worshipful and therapeutic to stand on the porch a moment, look over the horizon, and start singing whatever verse comes to mind. Today it was “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood.” Yesterday it was the little chorus, “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made.” A song in the morning is worth a whole bottle of tranquilizers.
And then at night, think of three things you’re thankful for before going to sleep. I’ve started doing this after reading a scientific study that actually did research on the practice. Instead of letting your mind mull over the stresses of the day, take a few moments to thank God for three good things–perhaps for giving you the grace to hold your tongue at a moment of provocation, perhaps the lower prices at the gasoline pumps, perhaps a warm greeting or friendly note from a friend.
When we begin the morning with a song and end it with a prayer of thanksgiving, it creates a routine of happiness that will help others, making us the kind of people who spread happiness wherever we no, not whenever we go.