If you are struggling to stay happy all day, you’re not alone. According to an analysis of 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users over a span of 3 years, we are our happiest early in the morning. Our mood begins to decline after 9 am and we are the least happy between 3 and 4 p.m.
Apparently life is ruining our day!
Unless you are retired or rich, the rest of us are supposed to be doing some pretty productive things between 9 am and 4 pm. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hate my day. I want to be happy whether at work or school. So how can we make sure that what we have to do doesn’t make us unhappy?
This week I will be sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. If you want to follow this series of posts, subscribe to my website. As an added bonus, I’ll send you a FREE copy of the first chapter of my most recent book, Pulse.
Way #1 – Rejoice and Repeat
Philippians 4:4-7 gives us the formula for a guaranteed good day.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7
There is no Biblical guarantee that nothing bad will happen to you during the day. No matter how much faith you have or how well you feel like you are living, truth is, it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Jesus said that great faith and right living can actually make life more difficult (John 15:18-25). The world will not celebrate you. In fact, some people will make it the aim of their day make you Twitter cuss by 3 o’clock.
And this is why Philippians 4:4-7 is so practical and not just idealistic jargon. Paul wrote this passage while imprisoned. Despite his circumstances, Paul pens a short, 4 chapter letter that mentions joy 15 times. 9 times, from prison, he tells us to rejoice. 5 times he uses the word joy. And once the man in chains commands us to “be glad.”
In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul not only commands us to rejoice, but he commands us to repeat it. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, rejoice.”
That repeat is important. If you say something out of necessity, it may lack sincerity. It’s like when someone tells you to apologize.
“Say you’re sorry.”
“I’m sorry.” But you say it as if you are sucking on a lemon. And then you know what comes next.
“Now, say it like you mean it.”
This time, you take the lemon out of your mouth, reconstitute yourself morally and actually muster a decently sincere apology.
Your Negativity Bias
Another reason we need to rejoice and repeat is because we are hard-wired with a negativity bias. According to Psychology Today, you naturally take greater notice of negative things. This explains why politicians run negative campaign ads. Rather than tell you all the great solutions they have to offer, campaign managers know that you will pay more attention to criticism of the opponent.
Understanding the negativity bias is pretty important for happiness. You exercise your negativity bias in every relationship you have. And according to the anylisis of Twitter, it is fully operational by 3 pm!
Let’s take one very important relationship and demonstrate the power of your negativity bias, marriage. You can get to such a place in your marriage that you only notice the annoying things about your spouse no matter how many good things they do. Your spouse may have worked today to provide for the family. He or she may have picked up the kids from school and taken them to practice. Your spouse may have cooked dinner. But at 8 pm you asked if the TV could be turned down and by 11 pm you were sleeping in separate rooms and thinking about divorce.
How in the world do you sour so quickly? The answer, negativity bias.
According to the science of the negativity bias, your negative perception of your spouse will not be changed by doing one big positive thing for each other. Instead, it will take you noticing 5 positives to every 1 negative. This is why you can have a “makeup” date on Friday night for the fight you had on Thursday, but hate each other again by lunch on Saturday. The makeup date helps, but you also need to appreciate this 1, and this 2, and this 3, and this 4, and this 5 . . . Taking repeated notice of the good things is the only way you can curb your negativity bias.
Paul was WAY ahead of the research of the negativity bias. From a first-century Roman prison, the Apostle Paul told you that you need to rejoice and repeat. Rejoice. Now, say it again, but this time like you mean it. “Again, I say, rejoice.”
The repetition of rejoicing will help you find the good, even on a bad day. Repeated rejoicing helps you to broaden your vision rather than keeping your singularly focused on the most aggravating things throughout your day. Most importantly, the command to rejoice and repeat it will drive you to Christ. You will find that you don’t have enough “in yourself” to do this. You will need the Lord’s help. Pray that He will help you take greater notice of the good things. This will drive you to take greater notice of Him. When the Lord is at the top of the list of your reasons to rejoice, you will always have a reason for joy.
Bible Study Questions:
Read Philippians 1:3-11. This is Paul’s first mention of joy in the Book of Philippians. In this passage is there:
- A promise to be believed?
- A command to be obeyed?
- A principle to be applied?
Challenge: Pray Philippians 1:3-11 over the most annoying person in your life for 5 days in a row. How does doing so change your perceptions of that person?
Books by Brian Branam