The Happiness Factor

Traveling during Thanksgiving week, “people watching” at the airports and renewing family acquaintance, I was struck by the unhappiness and discontent around me. Oh, we had a great time, everyone was upbeat and full of smiles, but some faces in repose tell another story. I decided the world is full of discontent, anger, envy and bitter gall!

Some people would say the world is in worse shape than ever before but we forget about the World Wars 1 and 2: the bombings, food rations and concentration camps. What about the world-wide flood of early mankind? What about Mount Vesuvius? What about the depraved evil of the Roman Empire? The Inquisition? The Black Plague?

I would say a person’s own individual crises are what drives folks to depression, gloom and doom, suicide and mad attacks upon innocent bystanders. In October, 1929, people didn’t jump off buildings because the world was a mess. They despaired because their own personal finances had suddenly disappeared. The guy who went berserk in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a few weeks ago was angry with his ex-wife’s family, not the world.

So, lots of people lost their savings and their homes in the Great Depression. They buckled down, worked for pennies, scraped to get by, stood in soup lines. They kept up hope things would get better. It took a long time but eventually the economy recovered. Those who survived made a choice to struggle through and they were stronger because of it.

In America, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds*. Divorce is hard; it’s tragic and painful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, yet all those people generally get through it without killing anyone. They make a choice to fight back through the pain and they are wiser because of it.

Those examples are big things; they are huge! But I think we prepare for the big things by the way we handle the little things—bad traffic on the freeway, misbehaving kids, bad bosses, lost luggage.


We can choose to let something make us unhappy!

This week I’ve seen people frowning and growling because the shuttle bus was overcrowded and late. One guy got all upside down because his wife danced with someone besides him. Someone on Facebook unfriended an old friend over something embarrassing. A woman was crying in the ladies’ room because her husband bought something she thought was frivolous. She had $10k worth of jewelry on her hands.

It’s not that these things are easy. It’s a trial when we simply don’t get our way. Trials aren’t ever fun. We can choose to take it hard. But if we choose to be happy in spite of rough times, we can be downright ecstatic when things are going well. We might even bubble over with the giggles.

* Source of divorce stats:


About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
This entry was posted in Short Takes on Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Happiness Factor

  1. maragen says:

    1 Phil 4:11 …..for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

    I was pondering this verse just a short while before I saw (my husband) Tom for the first time. I have pondered it many times since. To me, it is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible. Wonder how many people you observed were pondering it. Sounds like not too many.

  2. As I prepare to leave the comfort of my home, the familiarity of my town, the emptiness of belonging, I will put on the smile, enjoy the change, and thank my friend for this much needed reminder that life is good and God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

  3. Becky Wright, Songwriter & Speaker says:

    Well-written, poignant and true thoughts, Janet. I, like countless others, have suffered through abandonment and divorce, poverty, tumors and surgeries, and early death of people I love dearly (my son, my younger sister, my dad). Yet, through it all, God’s mercy never left me. His presence and the truths of His Word sustained me. He weaves EVERYTHING together into a beautiful tapestry when our lives belong to Him. (Romans 8:28). I’m learning more and more that every delay, inconvenience, or disappointment can be used by God (and is often orchestrated by Him for His divine purposes in our lives) to bring about good. Yesterday, I was standing in a very long and slow-moving line at Customer Service at a store, already late for lunch with my hubby. A lady behind me sarcastically said, “Oh, I just LOVE waiting in long lines!” — but she had a smile on her face, and tried to be joyful and patient about it. I actually know the lady so we passed the time talking. The subject came up of mental illness, depression, how it affects relationships, etc., and our own son’s suicide. She then revealed to me that mental illness is the same trial she’s facing in her husband, and that many folks had urged her to divorce him — but she refused. I hugged her and vowed to pray for her and her marriage. I NEVER would have known these battles this woman faced, had we not been in that long, late, line.

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