The Serious Pursuit of Happiness

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Are you in the pursuit of happiness? That’s not a bad thing if you know what you’re doing. Millions of people don’t. They are trying to find happiness in achievement, service, pleasing people, money, education, positive attitude, creative activity, or the accumulation of things. However, research and real life experience indicates that gratitude is the essential component for happiness. Happiness is experienced when gratitude is practiced. When gratitude is at the core of your being, happiness happens.

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What must be overcome for a person to be happy? Answer: ingratitude. 

Ingratitude makes headway into your life through the path of forgetfulness. You forget that everything in your life is a gift. Abraham Lincoln said it well: 

We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown; but we have forgotten God! We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Robert Emmons PhD, an “expert” on the science of gratitude writes:

Contemporary research paints a more complicated picture of ingratitude. People who are ungrateful tend to be characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, arrogance, vanity, and an unquenchable need for admiration and approval. Narcissists reject the ties that bind people into relationships of reciprocity. They expect special favors and feel no need to pay back or pay forward.

Have you met anyone who exhibits some of these characteristics? Have you ever seen one in your mirror? All of us, to some degree, live ungrateful lives. We think our self needs protection, recognition, and valuing or we’re offended, hurt, or irritated. We’re not truly happy. 

So, how can you and I battle ingratitude?

We can begin by saying “Thank you” more often. I’ll prime the pump: 

  • when your spouse does something normal – feeds the dogs, fixes dinner, shuts off the light, cleans up a mess
  • when your child behaves well – replies to a text, brushes her teeth, obeys, helps around the house
  • when a person – lets you into the traffic, helps you at the cash register, listens to your story 
  • when you see the beauty of creation all around you

The list is endless.

Ramp up your “Thank you’s” for good things and people. See how this makes a difference in your happiness. See how this defeats ingratitude. 

This month, I’m looking for 10 people who will join me in living days of gratitude. I need help in making happiness a greater reality in my life. We’ll enjoy 30 days of greater happiness by saying “Thank you” more frequently. Will you be one of the 10? If so, reply in the comment section: “I’m Thank-fully In!”  

Let’s not just talk about happiness. Let’s do something about it. 

Reply below. 

Thank you! 

Dr. K