Friday, October 20, 2017

Day 20 - What is Your Happiness Style?

Which one of the following makes you most happy?

a.    Reading a book or listening to a podcast.
b.    Being productive in tasks at home, at the office, or in the yard.
c.    Inviting a friend over.
d.    Taking part in a leisurely activity, such as a walk at a beautiful park, playing a round of golf, or going for a swim.
e.    Doing whatever my family or friends prefer to do.

These are some of the questions to determine your Happiness Style found in Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book, The Happiness Dare. Lee says there are five happiness styles, meaning five ways people primarily experience happiness. It doesn’t mean we are only one style. We can have a combination of several styles. But generally, we have one way we predominantly experience happiness. 



It makes sense; different things make different people happy. Some people get energized when they are having fun with a group of people. Some people need time alone, to wind down and recharge in order to be happy. Some people are happiest accomplishing a huge task. Some people are happiest serving others.

We have many group events at our house. Most of them are a combination of church meetings, dinner, games and social activities. It is interesting in a group of 30 or more people what different personality types are drawn to do in that type of setting.

There will always be people who are in a group laughing and telling funny stories.
There are people paired off in a corner having serious in-depth conversations.
There are one or two people who will start cleaning up, stay late, wash the dishes, bag up all the trash and wipe down the kitchen counters. (I LOVE these types of people!)
There was even one woman who sat alone and pulled out a book and started reading. (She only came to one such event.)

The five Happiness Styles are: the Doer, Relater, Experiencer, Giver and Thinker. Lee explains each style more in depth in her book.

The Doer is happiest in purposeful activity. They like to make lists, can juggle several tasks at once, are dependable and goal oriented. They are happiest when they are busy accomplishing something.

The Relater enjoys positive, meaningful relationships. They are inviters, includes, lovers and connectors. They are known for being friendly, kind and warmhearted.

The Experiencer loves adventure. They are curious, want to explore new activities, have a deep sense of wonder and love making memories.

The Giver finds great delight in helping, sharing and serving. They are happiest creating happiness for others. They are known for being thoughtful and selfless.

The Thinker enjoys contemplation, learning, pondering and dreaming. They are curious, notice details, and ask questions.



Do you see yourself in any of these styles?

Our immediate family of six has five extroverts who are a combination of the Doer, the Relater, the Experiencer and the Giver. We have one son who is not. He is graduating from high school this year, and like all his siblings we wanted to throw a graduation party for him. When we told him he looked mortified. Then I remembered he doesn’t like parties. He is the kid who said when he was little, “I don’t like new people.” He prefers to be with family or a few close friends. It would not bring him any joy to be the center of attention and have a party in his honor where he would be expected to talk to a lot of people. Since it is his graduation, we decided to do something he would enjoy, not have a party just because the rest of us would like it.

It is helpful to know what our Happiness Style is and that of our friends and family members. If you are unsure what yours is, you can take the Happiness Style Assessment online at jenniferdukeslee.com/happiness-style or pick up a copy of the book The Happiness Dare.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:13-14


   (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)
     

  Joyfully,
 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Day 19 - Joy at Any Age

            (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)

 
They were the cutest couple. A short, white-haired husband and wife probably in their mid 80’s, strolling hand-in-hand. My friend and I were eating lunch outside of a restaurant as we watched this sweet couple walk by. They were looking lovingly at each other and smiling. We assumed they were married many years and still had a flirty, close, joyful relationship. My friend turned to me and said, “That is how I want to be with my husband when we are old.”



I gave her a puzzled look but decided not to say anything. Though decades younger than the couple we watched walk by, I had never seen my friend and her husband act like that. I had never seen them hold hands, act flirty or look lovingly in each other’s eyes. They didn’t have a bad marriage; in fact they seemed to be doing well. I had just never seen them show any physical closeness or affection. I didn’t think my friend and her husband could grow up to be an affectionate, romantic older couple if they weren’t that way when they were young.

In the same way, if we want to avoid the stereotype of being a ‘grumpy old man’ or a ‘mean old lady’ when we are older we have to work hard on not being like that when we are young. Whether old or young, it is special to encounter a person who is truly happy, joyful and quick to give an encouraging word. A person who lights up with a smile when they meet you is fun to be around.

Being in the customer service business, we look forward to seeing our regular customers who are kind, appreciative and positive. We had two new customers recently that we worked with for several weeks. One, we only met on the phone, but just by the way she talked, we could tell she was smiling on the other end. She laughed. She complimented us. She asked about my kids. She took responsibility for her mistakes and was appreciative for the creative quality work we provided for her. Never having seen her in person, we could tell she was filled with joy.

Another new customer came in already disgruntled before she met us. She had been to several online and big box stores and was completely dissatisfied with anything the four other companies had done. Her job was easy enough, but after being with her for an hour listening to her complain, our employee turned to me when she left and said “we are never going to be able to make her happy” which turned out to be true.

Growing old joyfully starts with being joyful now. Life is difficult, busy and stressful for everyone. Choosing to go through life with joy is a habit we need to cultivate now if we want to have joy later in life.

Life is too short to live without joy. We have more joy when we share our joy with others. We can only share our joy with others when we are joyful.


A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
    and how good is a timely word!   Proverbs 15:23




 Joyfully,
 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Day 18 - Jamming Our Joy

          (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


           On Day 11, I wrote about When There is No Joy.  Not counting those times, there are things we do that jam up our own joy. Here are 5 Jams that will keep us from a joyful life.

1.    The Blame Game
We need to own our emotions. It is common for us to blame others for how we feel. We can get angry when someone cuts us off in traffic. We can feel hopeless when we read about the crime in our city. We can feel jealous when someone else gets the promotion, car, position or life we wanted. We can feel frustrated when our teenage sons stay up to all hours of the night leaving a giant mess in the kitchen, living room and bathroom, for us to clean before we go to work. – (These are all theoretical examples of course!) –But it is easy to blame others for our bad mood. We need to own our emotions and not allow other people or situations to determine our frame of mind. It’s like the old saying, ‘The devil made me do it.’ We may not be able to control everything that happens, but we do have control of our emotions and how we choose to react.

2.    Failing to Forgive
Refusing to forgive someone and holding a grudge can eat away at us and seriously jam up our joy. To increase our joy we need to release the burden of holding onto the hurt and rehearsing the wrongs done to us. Forgiveness is not always a one-time event. Sometimes we have to forgive in our mind over and over until we release it so our heart can feel free. Nursing a hurt or holding a grudge is a terrible weight to carry around and hurts us much more than the other person.

3.    Appointing Ourselves as Spiritual Sheriffs
Do we go through life pointing out where others are wrong? Do we critique the sermon, music, people or church on Sunday mornings? Do we question why a group or organization does things that way and not our way? There is so much hate and criticism online and in social media, including among brothers and sisters in Christ. Who made these people the Spiritual Sheriffs? Looking for others mistakes and pointing out what is wrong with the world can jam up our joy everyday.

4.    Inner-directed
Inner-directed is a synonym for all the ‘s’ words: self-centered, self-focused, self-seeking etc. Do you walk into a room and say, “Here I am.” or “There you are?” Are we more concerned about taking selfies than we are sharing with others? As followers of Christ, who laid down His life for us, we need to be more about others than ourselves. Look around. People are starving for some Good News, for someone to care about them, their kids and their situations. Are we so busy talking about ourselves and telling our stories, that we miss opportunities to ask about others and encourage them? Joy blooms when we think about others more than ourselves.

God placed us in communities, families and relationships. We will always be around other people. Let’s not jam up our opportunity for joy by blaming them, failing to forgive, acting as spiritual sheriffs or being self-focused.

Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.   Romans 12:10

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.   1 John 4:7-8



Joyfully,
 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day 17 - Make Your Own Joy



It happened every year. A group of friends celebrated each other’s birthdays by going out to lunch together. When it came to one friend’s birthday, she always brought gifts for everyone at the lunch, whether it was two or ten of us. These gifts were personal and almost always had our names written in fancy handwriting on them. They were well thought out gifts, not just thrown together. She decorated gift bags and inside there would be a handmade note card, bookmark or ribbon with a hand picked Bible verse beautifully printed on it. There might be something fun like a magnet, plastic sunglasses, tea-party type fans or a candle. Always there was a note telling us we were loved, thought of, prayed for and cheering us on as women, wives and mothers.


      
             We could tell she spent days planning and putting together the personal touches. She was giddy with joy as she passed out each gift. The rest of us were always surprised. It was a little bit embarrassing. She didn’t have to do that. It was her birthday after all. We should have brought her a gift. The rest of us viewed going out to lunch as the birthday gift, or we didn’t see the need to bring gifts. It was always very nice and made us feel special that she thought so much about us.

Why did she do it?

I think her love language must have been receiving gifts, therefore she showed love to others by giving gifts. Also, and I am just guessing here, she came from a family with all men, who typically did not give gifts, certainly not handmade, personalized, sentimental gifts. She never complained about them, nor did she ever say she missed not receiving gifts. But what she did was inspiring.

She made her own joy!

         She had as much fun giving the gifts and watching our expressions opening them as she would  had she received the gifts. It was an amazing act of love and kindness on her part, but it also brought her much joy.

         It was a huge lesson to me. Why wait for something fun, special or encouraging to happen to us, when we can make our own joy? We can give gifts. We can plan our own party. We can arrange a fun group activity with friends. I have another friend who lives miles away from her extended family. She invites whoever wants to join her for a big Thanksgiving dinner. She cooks everything, sets a beautiful table and always has people from different walks of life join her. The people who are invited are usually single or otherwise alone on Thanksgiving Day. They appreciate being included around her table and she receives joy from serving and feeding a houseful of people.

         I want to encourage you. If you have not had much joy lately, brainstorm what would make you happy at this season of your life. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be with the exact people you want to be around. Open yourself up to new people and experiences and see if making your own joy and bringing joy to others allows you to live the abundant life God has for you.

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.     Romans 15:13


  (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)

 Joyfully,
  

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Happiness Project

         
Do you have the ability to make yourself more happy? That was the question Gretchen Rubin asked herself a few years ago. She wasn’t depressed. In fact she viewed herself as a fairly happy person. She had a good life, was happily married, had two young daughters, she lived in her favorite city, New York and was a full-time writer. One day she realized life goes by fast and she didn’t think she appreciated her life very much. She complained and nagged too much. She wanted to be grateful and enjoy her life more. So, she decided to start a yearlong Happiness Project.



She came up with a list of areas in her life which she thought could use more happiness. They were Marriage, Parenting, Friends, Eternity, Attitude, Work, Play, Passion, Energy, Money and Mindfulness. She decided she would work on each one for a month and then add in the next area. For the month of December she would practice all the areas together.

She didn’t have much support when discussing this project. At first her family members, friends and even her husband thought it was a waste of time because she appeared to be happy enough. She decided to persevere anyway. She researched each area, created charts to mark her progress, and came up with some over arching principles she would incorporate into each month.

In January she began with the area of Energy. She wrote out what she could do to increase her energy. She thought she would need more energy to get through the rest of the areas and she knew she would be happier with increased energy. She made a list of things to do and then checked off each day as she did them.

Her action steps for January were:

         Go to sleep earlier.
         Exercise better.
         Toss, restore, and organize.
         Tackle a nagging task.
         Act more energetic.

It was interesting reading about her experiences and how she made a conscious effort to improve in these particular areas. Sometimes it came easy and sometimes she had to force herself to do things. She tried something and then reported whether it worked or not and at the end of each month she asked herself if she was happier than she was at the beginning of the month.

At the end of the book she encourages people to start their own Happiness Project. Each person is different and would have different areas of their life that are important to them, so each monthly list would be unique. She offers helpful resources on her website (gretchenrubin.com). 



         If you would like to increase your happiness, which area would you want to work on? Would you choose one of Gretchen Rubin’s categories? I would not have thought about Energy as a means to more happiness, but after making a concentrated effort to improve in that area, she decided having more energy did improve her happiness.

The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.
 My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. John 10:10


 (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)

 Joyfully,