In today’s society it is so easy to fall into a trap of negativity and a poor outlook on life in general, because all we ever see in the news and on social media is the harrowing and brutal realities of present time. Negativity can also stem from personal battles, that many of us will and have struggled with.
One place this can come from is comparison and envy, especially in possessions and lifestyles. One minute we can be so content with the lives or belongings we have and then the next minute we see or think of someone that has the upgraded or easier version, pushing us into a pit of jealousy and dissatisfaction, provoking us to question why they have been blessed with better things or more money to spend on luxury items than we have. The problem with jealousy is that it often kills relationships as we blame others for the hurt and sometimes even embarrassment we feel. Whether this is with your parents, for not providing you with what you desire, or with the person/people with supposedly ‘better’ possessions. This can also often reveal the toxic and defensive side of our human selves, leaving us to make bad decisions and corrupt the relationships we have that are perfectly healthy and essential in our lives.
This is demonstrated perfectly within the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16) in which Cain murdered his brother, Abel, after God accepted an offering from Abel and not Cain, resulting in jealousy and eventually the divide in the relationship of the brothers. Cain was then cursed to be a restless wanderer for the rest of his life as an outcome of the betrayal towards his brother. Cain resented his brother as he had what Abel set out to get, lighting a fiery rage in Cain that led him to make a big mistake.
…The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favourGenesis 4:4-5 [niv]
Don’t let other people’s successes and lifestyles affect the outlook you have on yourself and the things you own, make an effort to be grateful for what you have and what God has gifted you with. In terms of comparing lifestyles, everyone is on a different path and will have different reactions and experiences. There will be parts of the journey you have on Earth that you will struggle with so much such as financial issues or making friendships, and you will see other people that have much more pleasant and smooth experiences with the same thing. Don’t allow this to make you envious and dissatisfied, use it to be happy for those people and rejoice in their experiences, as there will be things in their lives that they have had turmoil with, in which you have triumphed and been blessed in. Ask God to support you in your trials and seasons of uncertainty, instead of reflecting on the impurities of your lifestyle. None of us are perfect but we can make the decision to dwell on the bad or use what we have for good and to share God’s grace.
Another part of life that can be manipulated into negativity is finding your purpose in life and a reason to be present and make effort. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves slipping into a mindset of hopelessness where we don’t know what to do next, repeating the same cycle daily where nothing changes, participating in nothing productive, questioning why we should put effort in and try when there is no obvious outcome. This is the enemy pulling you away from your identity in yourself and in Jesus, detaching you from your inspiration and what motivates you and the calling that God has laid on your life. When you find yourself in this sort of state, make an active decision to read your Bible and do small timeless routines, like making your bed or going for a walk, reminding you of the important things in your life like your health and relationship with God. Work a small and flexible routine into your life that gets you up in the morning and out into the fresh air. Ask someone close to you to hold you accountable and check up on you frequently, someone that motivates you to do good things and be a Godly person whilst making you feel comfortable and secure in yourself, even on the darkest days. Eventually, you will feel yourself gradually becoming happier and back to your normal self.
Some practical ways that I find help me live a happier life is :
1) Thank God
– Give thanks daily for what He has blessed you with and where you are at this point in your life
2) Surround yourself with positive people
– be with people that push you to be a better person and show you how special and essential you are in their lives.
3) Be kind to others and show God’s love through generosity
– make other people happy often. Do this by things such as complimenting someone, telling a stranger about Jesus, blessing someone with a free coffee or flowers. Making someone else’s day leads us to be proud of ourselves and happy for who we are and the impact we have made to their day.
4) Be transparent
– Talk to those close to you about the negative aspects in your life, ask them to pray for you and support you through them. This will help you see things from an outsiders perspective and it could also help that person if they are going through a similar thing.
5) Try not to have any grudges or permanent hatred towards someone.
– It is perfectly healthy to have cut a toxic person out your life, but forgive them for the past and do not dwell as this can hold you in the past and discourage you to move on.
6) Take time out of your day for yourself
– do something that you enjoy to do on yourself. This will help you learn about yourself and how you can be happier.
7) Don’t allow other people to steal away your happiness
– you deserve to rejoice daily and enjoy life among people that lift you up and make you a better person, find your happiness in your Creator. When he made the earth and every breathtaking thing in it, He thought to Himself that He needed YOU to be in it also and that it wouldn’t be finished without you, so thrive in the life God has blessed you with.
8) Remember that even the happiest people have bad and discouraging days
– we are all human. When you have a particularly bad day, remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and you are worthy of happiness and the joy that God has placed in your heart.
Romans 15:13 [NLT]
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit