Why are some people peaceful, tranquil and calm? And others are constantly disquieted, distressed, and frustrated? Why do some folks seem happy all the time and others unhappy? Why does one person wear a perpetual smile, and another an incessant frown?
Several years ago the Sociology Department at Duke University did a study on “Peace of Mind.” After studying hundreds of people, both happy and unhappy, 9 factors were found to contribute to emotional and mental stability.
In reading the list, it was quickly apparent that these ideas are either directly stated in implicitly implied in the Bible. Here are the 9 with a corresponding scripture and a brief comment.
1.The absence of suspicion and resentment. Holding a grudge was the major factor in unhappiness
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Eph 4:31, NIV)
Bitter people are unhappy, agitated people. Get rid of this detrimental toxin.
2. Not living in the past. Much unhappiness stems from an unwholesome preoccupation with past mistakes and failures.
The apostle Paul said he put his mistakes in the past. Focused on the future. And pressed on to the goal of God’s eternal prize (Phil. 3:12-14). That’s a healthy prescription for peace of mind.
3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change.
“For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11) Great advice! Change what you can. Accept what you can’t. And learn the difference.
4. Cooperating with life, instead of trying to either demolish it or run away from it.
The entire book of Ecclesiastes addresses “life under the sun.” The wise man teaches us to enjoy life. Understand its seasons. Embrace its work ethic. Accept its pitfalls and paradoxes. And prepare for its final days.
5. Force yourself to stay involved with the living world.
Jesus prayed, not for us to be “taken out of the world,” but to be kept from “the evil one in the world” (Jn. 17:15-16).
Isolation is not the answer to a wicked world. We’re called to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt 5:13-16).
6. Refusing to pity yourself or seek self-justification in easy alibis that make you appear “noble” to yourself and others.
James admonished, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (Jas 1:3-4, NASU)
It’s true “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22).
7. Cultivating the old-fashioned virtues of love, honor, loyalty, thrift.
Read Romans 12. Christians are challenged to these and many other noble virtues as we live transformed lives. They will improve your attitude. Lift your spirit. And brighten your perspective.
8. Not putting too much pressure on yourself. When there is a wide gap between the standards you set for yourself and your actual achievement, unhappiness is inevitable.
At first, it may seem this point is at odds with God’s desire for excellence and living on a higher level. But the Bible teaches “all have sinned” and “there is none righteous, no, not one (Rom. 3:23,10) God’s standard is not unreasonable or unrealistic. Some are five talent people. Others 2 talent people. And still others 1 talent people. (Matt. 25:14-29) He expects us to do the best with what we have been given.
9. Finding something bigger than yourself in which to believe. Self–centered, egotistical, materialistic people score lowest of all in any test measured for happiness.
Christians know there is something and someone bigger. God created us for a purpose (Eph 3:11). We are His “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). And we know that Jesus is the way, not only to a happy life, but to an eternal life with the Father (Jn 14:6).
Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” (Jn 14:27). The Bible declares it. Secular studies affirm it. And our personal experience confirms it.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman