I bumped into this interesting blog last week. It’s called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, a project-oriented, semi self-help blog with articles and videos and books in search for the meaning and the realization of what is happiness for us, both generally and specifically. The writer has weekly and monthly reviews and/or tips on topics raised by readers, with quotes and other pop culture icons to facilitate discussions and explorations on happiness.

After skimming through the pages on this website, there’s one section that tickled my curiosity the most, because I kept coming back at it. It’s called (Gretchen’s) Twelve Personal Commandments. It’s basically twelve kind of attitudes that Gretchen uses as her barometer in order for her to be happy, or happier in her daily life. Twelve actions that are easy to do, but definitely need some efforts for them to become habits. In her words, she explained that, “…your list of personal commandments are extremely helpful in working for happiness”.

And I thought, ‘working for happiness’ ?

There were several times in the past where I would ponder upon what happiness is essentially about. When you ask people on what they would like to do with their lives, most would answer with things that will ultimately make them happy;

“Good grades and have fun with friends”, a student might wish for his last year in uni.
A single woman in her 20s may think of, “Finding a job that you love, buying your own car, and a handsome boyfriend/future husband”
“Getting promotion, holiday in Bali, meeting pretty chicks and a sports car”, sounds like an ideal dream of a bloke in late 20s.
A 60-year-old grandma might think of going on a cruise with her husband, cooking good food for her grand children, and a good health.
What about kids? I bet they would say, “LOLLIES” or anything sweets that will ruin their dinner time 🙂

These are just some examples that I came up with on top of my head, so they may be way too simple. But as simple or as complicated as their wishes may vary, at the end of the day, everyone longs to be at the state where they can have this fuzzy, warm feeling in their hearts and says, “yes, I’m satisfied. I’m happy”. Now, the reality is, nothing is perfect. As we grow up, we come to learn that the world is not that simple. And to be happy is no longer as simple as when we were kids. Happiness becomes an object of pursuit, and many has taken it to the extreme and turn it into greed and obsession. “I have to have it, I have to do it, or else I will not be happy”. Have we made happiness as something so black-and-white?

For me, life is an art. You can learn and keep learning because it will never cease to give you something to learn. Happiness is also an art of living, it’s a state of mind. It is something that can be learned. You can learn to be happy, just like you can learn to love. In John 13:34, Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another. ‘Love’ in this verse doesn’t talk about feelings, it’s about acting, performing, exercising the love. You don’t have to be in love with someone for you to show love, compassion, care to them. The same goes with happiness.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,..” says Proverbs 17:22. A happy person is most of the time healthier compared to the grumpy one. Some may argue, “of course we want to be happy, but you can’t be happy all the time, right?”. I guess it’s true, but I believe that we can choose to have that state of mind. We can choose to be happy. Not far from the verse about a cheerful heart, in Proverbs 23:7, it is said that “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he”. In other words? You are what you think. You can become what you think you are! Of course, when you choose to do so 🙂

Now, do you still believe that we have to work for our happiness? You bet I do!

However much we try to think positive towards life, sometimes life takes the better of us. I’ve experienced in many occasions that just when I decided to choose to be happy and content, life hurled something at my direction and blew me off-track. And I had to work harder to build my happiness because now I was pissed I have failed to stay happy!

While writing this entry, I asked my husband what is happiness for him. Being a deep-thinker that he is, he answered,

“to be content, to have less expectations, and to be able to achieve things in life”
“So, are you happy right now?”
“Yes. I have you :)”
*cue wifey blushing and mumbling something to brush off the comment*
“No, I’m serious. Now that I have you, I have someone to share everything with. I feel content.”
“Okay.. So, is it safe to say that you will also be happy when you are able to achieve things throughout your life?”
“Yes, I would love to do that. But also by being content in what I have now, because when you don’t feel enough now, you will never feel enough anyway. So yes I would love to pursue some things in life, but I also enjoy what I have now”.

Marriage life came as a surprise for us; everything is different now. Well, at least for me. Combining two people who are imperfect, with different backgrounds and pasts and habits and perspectives, for the rest of their lives, can be a recipe for disaster. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many have chosen to be happy, not for themselves, but with their spouses. My husband and I have learned a lot about each other since our wedding day four months ago, and there have been challenges that pushed us to choose whether we want to be miserable, or to be happy in our marriage. To be happy should not be your only reason to be married, but you can choose to be happy in your marriage.

Happiness is simple. It’s pure, it’s straight-forward. But sometimes it’s not easy to be happy. On our quest to find ways to work on our happiness chart, it is best to consult the One who understand us the most. What I usually do is every time I feel annoyed or disappointed at something or sad, I will try to be still for a couple of minutes and calling my Father’s name, acknowledging His love for me. I found it worked most of the time; I grew calmer at the least, though the problem or the unhappiness don’t necessarily go away. As we are created unique from one another, I believe God also have unique ways in helping and sustaining each of us day by day. Happiness is not the most important thing in the world, it is not something that we have to pursue above everything else. But being happy surely lightens up our lives, it gives more energy to go through our days however hard it may be. Our free will and our decision to be happy can be a testimony of His grace in our lives, as He shows His ways to guide us to pure happiness that will bring glory to Him.

So, how do you work on your happiness today?