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Fight for Your Happiness Part 3

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted May 28, 2015

RELIGION – We are continuing this week to try to up the sum total of happiness in our community by learning from David Murrary’s Book “The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World.” Do check it out, as I can only scratch the surface of all the wisdom in the book. The advice this week is to watch our influences which matter greatly.

Murray notes that scientists have shown that for every hundred pieces of information that enter our brains, ninety-nine are discarded. What if we are only looking for the negative and discarding the positive? It sure seems that the news does this.

The reality is the old expression of “If it bleeds, it leads” usually rings true. The is because “Our brains are naturally wired to focus on the negative, which can make us feel stressed and unhappy even though there are a lot of positive things in our lives” writes Dr. Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of the book “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.” His solution is not to avoid thinking about negative experiences but to train our brains to love lingering on positive experiences. As “neurons that fire together wire together,” he said we can grow a more positive mind-set by taking extra time to think on the positives and letting them really sink in.

This sounds a great deal like the good advice the Apostle Paul gave us in Philippians 4:8-9  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (9)  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Norman Vincent Peale stated this negatively, but on this point he and Paul agreed: People manufacture their own unhappiness, let us proceed to the formula for putting an end to this misery-producing process. Suffice it to say that we manufacture our unhappiness by thinking unhappy thoughts, by the attitudes which we habitually take, such as the negative feeling that everything is going to turn out badly, or that other people are getting what they do not deserve and we are failing to get what we do deserve. Our unhappiness is further distilled by saturating the consciousness with feelings of resentment, ill will, and hate. The unhappiness-producing process always makes important use of the ingredients of fear and worry.  We merely want to make the point at the present time and stress it forcefully that a very large proportion of the unhappiness of the average individual is self-manufactured.

I am not trying to hurt Edgefield Daily, but Rolf Dobelli wrote an article for the Guardian Newspaper “News Is Bad for You—and Giving It Up Will Make You Happier.” In it he argues that too much news consumption “leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply.” He says it misleads, is toxic to your body, increases cognitive errors, inhibit s thinking, wastes time, makes you passive, and kills creativity. So check the Bible verses at the top of the homepage, re-read an old column of mine and look for Good News stories. When you do read Edgefield Daily and read the bad news, pray  for those involved and try not to dwell on it  too long.

He also suggests a helpful practice to help focus more on the positive: three blessings. He recommends starting any family event, meeting, or even Sunday school with each person stating three things they are thankful for. This would do wonders to set the tone for a meeting. Secular studies of corporation who do this have shown that those people who completed the Three Blessings exercise lowered depression and increased happiness three months and six months later. Our family also does a variation of this called Alphabet Praise, we each say one thing we are thankful for using each letter of the alphabet.

So keep fighting for your happiness. The world will try to rob it away from you! Trust in Jesus who said “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33. 

Pastor Phillip

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