Teaching Your Kids How To Be Happy

Teaching Your Kids How To Be Happy

“Live Happy” editor Karol DeWulf Nickell believes that happiness is found in pursuing what matters most to us.  She also advises doing one thing to make a difference in someone else’s life each day, for happiness comes from giving to others first.  She further suggests that, since happiness starts within, we should not look for someone else to make us happy.

While what Nickells says is reasonable, it is not always true to life.  When I am weighed down by my troubles, the things that normally give me joy don’t always lift my spirits.  And even if they do, doesn’t that mean that happiness is something we have to keep pursuing?  And what if those things are taken from us or circumstances keep us from them?  Then what?   And helping others is only fulfilling sometimes, for we often see serving others as an imposition and a burden and end up feeling frustrated, used, or tired.  And if it is true another person can’t make me happy, can the person that is me make me happy?  If happiness starts from within, how DO I get it in me?


We Christians look at happiness in an entirely different way.  Solomon reminds us that happiness is a gift from God. “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work– this is a gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19)  He gives us the gift of joy by giving us Jesus, his Son.  That is why Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:4)  Paul said that while he was in prison, by the way, limited in doing what he found fulfilling: preaching the gospel.  Joy is a by-product of faith in Jesus, which is why Paul calls it “Joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Peter 1:6)  In Jesus, we rejoice that God loves us (Psalm 31:7), that he has saved us from our sins (Isaiah 25:9), that we are reconciled to God (Romans 5:11), and that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  By faith, we find our joy in serving Jesus and others even when it is hard.  We say with Paul (who said from prison), “Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” (Philippians 2:17)  And this joy in Jesus and the blessings we have from him doesn’t disappear when suffering comes into our lives. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:6)


So don’t blindly follow the pattern of this world in the relentless (and ultimately unfulfilling) pursuit of happiness. Keep teaching God’s Word at home and regularly hearing and learning it at church, for by that you give your children the source of true joy- Jesus Christ.  By your own example, show them that joy isn’t something we have to keep pursuing, or something that changes with our circumstances.  Show them that true joy is knowing that, in Christ, God is good and loving Savior, merciful and kind, and completely faithful…forever.