WASHINGTON – Happiness. Everyone wants it, but surveys show few people attain it.
Bestselling author Max Lucado suggests people are most likely to find happiness when they give it away
America's Happiness Meter
That's an important tip when you consider America's happiness meter.
"It's never been lower. Never been lower. There actually is a happiness index that measures the joy level of our society and it's at an all-time low," Lucado tells CBN News.
The Harris Poll keeps a finger on America's pulse and consistently finds two-thirds of people are feeling blue.
"It's like there's this perpetual cloud of grayness over our society," adds Lucado.
Happiness: The Elusive Emotion
And as a pastor who counsels people looking for happiness he says that number sounds about right.
"Yes, that resonates with my experience. I think that for many people happiness is a very elusive idea," he says.
In his new book, How Happiness Happens, Pastor Lucado explains how people can find joy in a world of comparison, disappointment, and unmet expectations.
"I'm a big advocate for happiness. I like it. I like to be happy and you know we're better when we're happy. We're better physically, our relationships tend to succeed more, and people won't be surprised to hear me say we actually make more money when we're happier," he says with a smile.
Does God Want Us To Be Happy?
In his book, he addresses whether or not God cares about our happiness.
"Yes, he does, and I'll go toe to toe with anyone who says God is in favor of grumpiness," Lucado says with a chuckle. "There's like 3,000 references to happiness in the Bible," he continues.
To craft his recipe for joy, Lucado examined all 50 of the Bible's "one another" verses such as "love one another," "accept one another," "accept one another" and condensed them into 10.
While some may sound brilliantly simple, they move the happy needle in a big way.
"Put to practice this idea of greeting people – I mean, just greet people. Take a moment and whenever appropriate give somebody a heartfelt 'hello,' ask them how they're doing and pause long enough to get an answer," he suggests.
Sometimes It's Hard
Lucado admits though, some things we should do to maintain happiness can be difficult.
"Jesus said forgive one another, forgive one another even as God in Christ has forgiven you. So, the image there is to look at how God through Christ has forgiven us. Again, it's not easy but I think happiness begins to happen when we release the resentments that we have," he explains.
You Can't Buy Happiness
Of course, everywhere we look the world tells us the secret to happiness is material.
"Every time I turn on the TV I'm told that my car is out of date, my clothes are out of style, my phone is not up to date. It's just boom, boom, boom. And if we're not careful we'll say oh, ok. If I purchase that I'll be happy and when that happens, I'm setting myself up for a downward spiral of achieve or purchase and then realized that didn't make me happy," he says.
God Offers Rock Solid Joy
What God offers, Lucado says, is joy that sustainable, even through the tough times.
"Let's say I'm going to anchor myself to the hope that God is good, God is in control, and I'm going to let that hope have its impact on me," he says.
So, after reading the book, you'll face this challenge: make 100 people happy over the next 40 days. Lucado tried it himself.
"Happiness happens when we give it away and make happiness depend not on what they acquire, but on who they serve, help. And when they bless others they're setting themselves up for a door to happiness," he says with a smile.
It sounds like a challenge worth taking.