So, I have heard some say that the “key” to happiness is to “follow your heart”. Other people say that the key to being happy is to “find something that fulfills your life.” Advice on this is everywhere and if each and every one of these were turned into a key, well, quite frankly, you will be spending quite a bit of time in front of that door playing another game of “search for the right key”. It’s annoying enough when this happens literally!
Alright, so my intro is done, now let’s get more into this, shall we? I remember the first time I heard, “to be happy, one must constantly be thankful….” I thought, “hmmm… thankful? Really? Is it truly THAT simple?” Well, no, it isn’t; but let me tell you just how true those words are, at least from personal experience. To say “thank you” and to be “thankful” are not entirely the same thing. One is more commonly used out of courtesy like when someone picks something up for you, or the waiter brings you the water you ordered, or when you are walking into a store and a person walking before you holds the door open for you… despite… being quite a few steps behind, so then you awkwardly start running to them so that they don’t get irritated at how slow you walk and when you finally get to them, you politely say that very out of breath, “thank you” to them then taking a moment once inside to breath because you weren’t expecting to move so fast… (where was my point?… ah! Yes!)… Now, contrast to being truly thankful, on other hand, comes from the true sentiment of appreciation. Like the warm feeling that blankets your heart when someone hands you a truly amazing gift! Truly being able to express thankfulness to Jehovah will cause is happiness. Allow me to explain why.
In the bible, in Luke 22:19 Jesus is described making a prayer as he takes the loaves of bread and fish before a crowd of hungry listeners. It says there that he gives thanks; he gives thanks in prayer to Jehovah. Meanwhile, in Matthew 26:26, the very same account describes Jesus’s prayer as saying a “blessing”. Thanking. Blessing. That’s right! When we are expressing thankfulness to our heavenly father, we are also blessing him! We can actually bless Jehovah in various ways thankfulness being one of the ways! And, what does Jehovah do when we bless, slash, thank him? He blesses us with more! It really ends up being this never-ending cycle of blessings.
So there, I decided to try blessing him more. I knew I could not and will not ever be able to out-bless him, but why not give it a try? I began to focus on the good things in my life and recognize them as gifts from Jehovah. Any time a conflict or anything tense happened, I began to pray in my head and ask for Jehovah’s help. Almost immediately, things eased up! I would feel relief and start to move on, but I began to thank him every time this happened. I began to notice his hand more often, then began to thank him whenever I noticed his hand in my life. This lead to more thankfulness.
I thanked him for giving me the strength to be up on time for service. I began to thank him for the people in my life and friendships I have. I began thanking him in my head after each comment I was able to give at the meetings. I thanked him every time my preaching service hours were accomplished. Pretty soon, I started thanking him each time my pets brought me joy. I thanked him for the sunlight rays that peered through the branches and leaves on the trees; for the beautiful mornings when the pavements were wet from the previous rain; the color of the damp tree trunks and clean air. I thanked him for the sounds of beautiful music. I thanked him for the family he gave me. I thanked him for anything good in me, because anything good was there because of him. Slowly but surely, I started to find more and more things to be thankful for; and less and less things to be worrying about.
It’s really like a muscle! The more you do it the more it becomes used, the more you rely on Jehovah. It has also helped me become a better person, truly! It motivates me to examine his word and seeing the ways that Jehovah has always protected his people despite them not being grateful to him. This seeming simple act turned out to be my greatest inspiration. So, am I never going to be sad ever again? Unfortunately, I am imperfect and negative thoughts still do enter my head, but, when I am able to catch myself, I quickly try to think of something else to be thankful for. This has made wonders!
So, there you have it. To unlock the happy door, well, there isn’t much of a lock really, You just have to be thankful that you know where the door is, and be thankful for how far you have come because of Jehovah. Now, you just have to wait patiently watch the door open itself.
Lately, my greatest joy and sources of deep appreciation is in my service to him. Each time, upon concluding an engaging bible study session with a bible student, or an incredible service day, or after spending an encouraging time with my fellow brothers and sisters, I’ll pause, take a step back, and in my head I tell myself, “these are blessings”.