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When are you happy?

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:11

“It is a Christian duty, as you know, for everyone to be as happy as he can.”
~ C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Sheldon Vanauken, in A Severe Mercy

happiness_is_a_warm_puppyI’ve been thinking a lot about grief. Well, actually, feeling a lot of grief. I don’t like it, but it’s normal. It will pass.

I know the stages, according to Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross anyway: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

But what about happiness? Does it have stages, too?

Gretchen Rubin spent a year studying, reading, and writing about happiness. She published her discoveries in her book The Happiness Project. And she continues to explore it on her blog.

She came up with four stages of happiness:

     1. Anticipate it
     2. Savor it as it unfolds
     3. Express it
     4. Recall it later as a happy memory

Stage 1
She tells about her daughter asking to look, again, at the book of birthday party cakes a month before her party. Gretchen thought it inefficient—the party was too far away. But she realized that for her daughter, looking at the book was stage 1 of happiness: anticipating.

And sometimes anticipating a happy event is just as much fun as the event itself.

I know. I was anticipating a trip to the beach in November. It was bringing me happiness just to think about it. (But it got cancelled so I’m looking for another event to anticipate.)

Stage 2
Savoring the event comes naturally. When we’re in the midst of the happy event, we’re usually, well, happy. Easy enough. 

Stage 3
Expressing it is fun. Don’t we all enjoy telling someone about our vacation or our greatest find? (Maybe not so fun for others to hear, but that’s a different matter...) Being able to share our joy with others is a joy within itself.

If you’re a John Piper or Jonathan Edwards reader, you can’t help but think of passages such as these when you hear of stage 3:

God is glorified not only by His glory's being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.

When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. . . . He that testifies his idea of God's glory [doesn't] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.
~ Jonathan Edwards

Stage 4
I know the happiness in reflecting when I sit on the couch with my daughters and look at old pictures. Remembering the happy times is a happy time. 

So what?
Reminding ourselves that happiness isn’t just in stage 2, “the moment,” can help us all find happiness in more times and places
, including, returning home from a vacation or in the midst of a transition or even in the grief over a loss.

After all, our fullest times of happiness are yet to come.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4

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Sue said...

Lisa, May the Lord continue to heal you through your grief.
Thank you for sharing about the stages of happiness, that Gretchen wrote about. I have visited her blog.They are very insightful.
The statement of our greatest happiness yet to come, is one of anticipation ! Thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

God bless you, Lisa! I hope you have a happy week.

Karen said...

He is our hope and our joy. Your words are so true, we must look for joy even in the midst of heartache. Joining you at Spiritual Sundays.

Joan Hall said...

Because of Jesus, we can have joy even in the midst of pain and suffering. This doesn't mean we don't grieve, but to have Jesus by our side to comfort us makes all the difference.


Nikki (Sarah) said...

I never thought of happiness like this before...the stages of it...but as I read through your post...I knew you were right. Thank you for explaining it the way you makes alot of sense. ☺

Cathy said...

Thanks for those great thoughts and for your visit today. Blessings ~

Mevely317 said...

What enJOYable examples you bring to life!
I especially like your last line, Lisa! Like that old song goes, "The best is yet to come... and won't it be fine?!"

Donnie said...

Thanks for that lovely post. I never thought about any of it as you have written. thank you for your words today.

Charlotte said...

So true. Sometimes the anticipation of an event is even better than the event itself. And it's so wonderful to have memories to look back on. God was so kind to make us that way. How wonderful it is to anticipate what God has store for us in the future, both in this life and the next.
Blessings for a wonderful week ahead.

Renee said...

What a great post on happiness, Lisa...thank you for sharing this with us....Keeping you in prayer today~

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

This is a great post today. I think as I get older different things make me happy.
God Bless,


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