The Holy Pursuit of Happiness

For quite some time now I’ve had the urge to poll a room full of people with this question:  What words come to your mind when you think of God?

First impressions are what I’m looking for, and I have a feeling that very few responses would include the word “happy.”  In The Happiness Dare, Jennifer Dukes Lee is out to change the way we view happiness — and, along with that, our view of God.

With Scriptural evidence for a happy God (Psalm 68:3; Isaiah 65:18) who rejoices over us, His people (Zephaniah 3:17), Jennifer invites her readers (Double Dog Dares us!) to pursue happiness, to stalk joy,and to do it according to the unique way in which we have been created.

Contrary to popular perceptions of God (and of Christians!), the Gospel itself is a call to happiness which is not in any way antithetical to holiness.  Theologian John Piper has written at length in defense of the concept of a happy God:

“Happiness is part of holiness . . . If you tried to describe what it means to be a holy person and left out happiness in God, you can’t do it.  There is not such thing as holiness minus happiness in God.  Happiness in God is the essence of holiness.”

Jennifer Dukes Lee lays down the challenge to overcome obstacles to happiness with truth that jumps into our hole of unhappiness and builds a ladder toward the light.  To the defeatist notion that “This is just the way I am,” she offers the happiness booster that “little by little, I can become happier by changing the way I think.”  Comparison is a happiness hacker that will yield only to a determination to find happiness of one’s own rather than wishing for someone else’s life.   A heart of gratitude is the antidote for perfectionism and discontent.  The truth of Romans 12:2 is nowhere more practical than in the “renewal” that takes place when the believer alters her thoughts toward happiness.

What makes The Happiness Dare unique (and do-able) is the recognition that happiness looks different on everyone.  Some people are simply wired for a happier outlook on life.  In fact, studies show that 50% of our happiness is governed by genes.  Ten percent is dictated by life’s circumstances.  That leaves 40% within our ability to control, so tipping the balance scale toward happiness is far more feasible if we understand ourselves and others.

I took the Happiness Style Assessment in the book (and you can take it online here).  It turns out that I’m a Doer/Thinker, so while I’m checking tasks off my list and pondering the outline for my next blog post, I’m smiling inside.  If you are a Relater, an Experiencer, or a Giver, you might want to run for the hills at the very thought of my happy place, but that awareness of our unique wiring only makes God look more amazing — because he made us all.   The happiness of my loved ones — however different from my own — feeds my happiness, and all of it is a gift from our happy God, and “part of a happiness cycle that rotates forever on the axis of the Cross, a cycle that will carry us all the way home.”

On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Amen.

//

This book was provided by Tyndale Momentum an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

35 thoughts on “The Holy Pursuit of Happiness”

  1. Michele,
    Having read Jennifer’s book and been on the launch team, I appreciate and concur with your review of her book. I’ve found that my “wording” approach to life…”have to” vs. “get to”, has helped to increase my gratitude and happiness is a direct offshoot of gratitude. Discovering my Happiness “style” has been another step into self discovery. Overall, very good stuff. Thanks for your review 🙂
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Yes, that was such a good point. I’m finding, Bev, as others share their reviews that I’m reminded of aspects of Jennifer’s thinking that didn’t stand out to me on the first read, but others are pointing them out!

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  2. Wow, Michelle. Everybody’s talking about Jennifer’s book! Her assessment was fun to take … but I was a bit surprised at the results … not what I would have thought.

    Could it be that a leopard can change her spots?

    ;-}

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this! You know I read The Happiness Dare and I’ve been waiting to hear your thoughts. I am not surprised by your happiness style- doer came in last place for me. However, relater, giver and experiencer were all at the top. That probably doesn’t surprise you. We need a world combined with many people with all the different styles. It is the unique gift God gives us and sharing it with others makes the world the beautiful place it is. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I knew it! All my favorite people are relaters, givers and experiencers! So different from me! I keep smiling at the memory of listening to your podcast with all the girls! Now that would have been a fun group to give the assessment to!

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  4. I find it very interesting that “happiness looks different on everyone,” and I need to take that to heart, for I’m one of those “wired” to be happy and sometimes have troubles relating to those who are not.

    I’ve got to find time to take that “Happiness Assessment!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How fun, Michelle! I’m a thinker/doer too, which was interesting because I had forgotten how much joy I experience when given time to think.
    40% of our happiness is determined by our thoughts … so important to think what we’re thinking about. Thank you for this. : )

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  6. Thanks for the review. I haven’t gotten to this book as yet, but did take the assessment online and wasn’t surprised to learn I was a Relater. I have this on the ever-growing stack/list. I am currently reading Eric Metaxas one, If You Can Keep It. It is rich good stuff. I feel between his book and Hickman’s, Closer Than Close, that I am experiencing a rich bounty. I am sure you have those times when you read a book or two in a row that blow you away. Some books are fair and some are good, but the great ones are on a much shorter list! Have a great week!

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    1. I haven’t heard of the Metaxas book you are reading — I always come away enriched from his books, and he’s such a gifted biographer. And yes, it’s so amazing when the sovereignty of God directs even our book choices and the order in which they come to us.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahhh, Michele. Even though I’ve read other posts on Jennifer’s book, I love your take on it. And the numbers (stats) you shared made me think. One of my boys tends to be a glass-half-empty sort of guy. I wonder how much of that is chalked up to his genetics? I like that 40% of happiness is our choice. Such a good thing to remember!

    When I took the online assessment, I came out as a Relater/Doer. I love that we can all be unique.

    Great post today!

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  8. Great review! I loved the book too, and found the explanations of the different happiness styles particularly interesting and realising that we are designed to find happiness in different ways. I’m a Thinker/Giver.

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  9. I’m reading Taste and See by John Piper right now, and he addressed the ‘happy God’ truth there, as well. And I am so going to take that test!
    Also, I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you participate, but if you’d like to, your nomination is in my newest post. 🙂

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    1. Me, too, and so often we get it backwards? How many times have we heard people share that they just couldn’t believe that God had called them to do something they enjoyed with all their hearts?

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  10. Sorry for the typos earlier Michele! Below is what I wanted to share. Blessings
    .
    What a great review Michele! I thoroughly enjoyed the book as well. I must admit when I joined the launch team I always thought of joy in Christ but the Happiness Dare really opened my eyes. In fact I used the verse in Zephaniah in my most recent post. Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts. The book definitely confirmed me as a doer and I am sometimes paralyzed mentally by “over thinking” things. I am still a work in progress as I seek to live happy in God’s holiness. I hope you have a wonderful week and may God richly bless you and yours!

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  11. It was so much fun to be a part of Jennifer’s launch team. I’m a giver relater. Loved this: “Happiness is part of holiness . . . If you tried to describe what it means to be a holy person and left out happiness in God, you can’t do it. There is not such thing as holiness minus happiness in God. Happiness in God is the essence of holiness.” Blessed to be your neighbor at Tell His Story this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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