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The Secret to Happiness

by Anita Miles

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

‭‭James‬ ‭2:18

A few days ago my husband sent me the link to an article that made it to the Fox News page. The headline went something like this… “Study reveals early Christmas decorating is good for you!”  

He sent that because I’m the gal that starts listening to Christmas music in July and discussions about decorating inside my house were already underway and in the planning phases. That’s a personal preference for me and I am no wise attempting to influence anyone on when to start the celebrations. Some people believe you can’t enjoy Thanksgiving if you jump ahead to Christmas before that day! We have a big celebration planned with family and I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving. But I like to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and then kick back that evening and enjoy my Christmas lights.  

I know there’s a great debate on when to decorate - and I’m not here to facilitate or encourage that conversation full of strong opinions. I don’t force my ideas down anyone’s throat - I just do what I want to do and let everybody else celebrate the way they want to celebrate. The debate has nothing to do what I’m about to say in the next few lines - but that study does!  

I like science and I like reasoning - so my first question upon receiving that text from Jeremy was “why are they studying people who decorate for Christmas early? And what is it that brings them to the conclusion that it’s good for you?” What is it that sets them apart? According to Steve McKeown (a psychoanalyst who is actually studying this) a portion of his theory goes something like this: “In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy!”

And didn’t he hit the nail on the head with that first line!!  “In a world full of stress and anxiety…” In another portion of the study, it was recognized that as people begin to think about Christmas, they feel more generous - and that enhances the feeling of happiness! As I read on, it began to just absorb into my heart and mind. For the happiness found in “people who decorate for Christmas early” - they are reaping the benefits of the same life that God has called each of us to, as Christians. The thing that triggers the happiness in early decorators is that people think of others more than themselves! They give to others more than they get!  

We recently had a conversation in our Sunday school class about the Discipline of Good Deeds for Godly Women! The idea was giving and thinking of others before ourselves! Somehow - even in the church world - we have diminished this kindness and replaced it with the idea that it’s all about us!  If you’ll notice, the struggles in emotions (which seem to be getting more noticeable and frequent) are usually when we’re thinking of ourselves.

If we could spend as much time concentrating on others as we focus on ourselves, think of the difference we could make in some lives!!  

I know this is a bit different than what you’re used to getting from me, but as women of God I challenge us to do this a little different. Let’s shake off the societal norm that has embraced the feminist and “all about me” mentality. If you’re enabling other young women to consider themselves first, challenge them to step beyond that. God has offered us a life that is free of condemnation. Our act of gratitude for that freedom is a life of service for His glory! That includes helping meet the needs of others. Christ said that even just a cup of cold water given was acknowledged in heaven!!  

So whether you decorate early or late - it makes not an ounce of difference to me. But let’s turn this world’s attitude on its face. Let us be givers, more than takers. It is our reasonable service. And the joy and happiness that is found in giving and making a difference for someone else will replace the stress and anxiety that comes when we dwell on ourselves.

It’s not God’s will for us to live in the realm of “ME” all the time.

It’s destructive for us personally and it does not profit the kingdom of God in any fashion!  

May we examine our lives daily! I want to be about the business of other people. That is the business of Christ! Servanthood is where the essence of lifelong happiness will be found!  

And I’ll leave it up to you to figure out if I’m enjoying my Christmas tree yet or not...  :-) 

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