Don’t Be Lazy About Your Happiness

Sep 23, 2022

It probably sounds pretty obvious to say it, but many unhappy people desire to be happy. They want it, but they don’t always do the things that will make it happen.The potential for happiness walks by each and every day, and they don’t notice it, or they don’t take the steps to follow it and work on it.

Now, before I get into the dynamics of laziness and happiness, let me be crystal clear about one thing: sometimes clinical conditions, such as severe depression, actually do immobilize people. The inability to get going is part of the illness itself. If you are one of those people and would love to be able to take part in life and work toward feeling better but are immobilized and literally do not have the energy to do so because of deep depression or other clinical issues, you are not lazy. You have an illness and need medical treatment, and I encourage you to get help immediately.

What I am referring to is the kind of person who is able to do what would make them happy, but for whatever reason, doesn’t do it. As Proverbs 26:15 states, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.” The “dish” is there and available, but the person is not taking advantage of the “food” that is waiting. They are not doing the things that could actually bring them the happiness they desire.

Contrast that attitude and behavior with that of happy people. Those who wake up in the morning and shout, “Good morning, Lord!” instead of “Good Lord… morning,” usually do not find themselves in that place by happenstance. They find themselves there by exercising their God-given energy, investing their time, moment by moment and day after day, in the activities of building a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. In effect, they are living out the created order itself. God designed us to be, in his image, persons who use their hearts, minds, souls, and strength to create and invest themselves in producing life. They build relationships and use their talents and abilities to achieve things, and God wants us to do the same. He wants us to be active toward life, not passive.

Happy people are that way (active, not passive) in their pursuit of life. If you look at some of the activities that research has proven produce happiness, you’ll see that it takes effort and investment. For example, happy people invest their time:

  • Building deep relationships and community: they belong to support groups, participate in discussion groups, or have structured times of getting together with friends and family and nurturing those relationships.
  • Being involved in growth activities: they see a coach or a counselor or attend some kind of growth group.
  • Pursuing goals: they have physical, financial, vocational, avocational, or other goals they’re working toward.
  • Serving others: they have found meaningful ways to give of their time and talents.
  • Nurturing a spiritual life: they devote time to spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, Bible study, retreats, and so forth.
  • Exercising and staying healthy: they have some sort of routine that they follow to stay active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
  • Practicing gratitude: they regularly express gratitude to God and others.
  • Pursuing activities they love: they find their passions and pursue them.
  • Stretching themselves: they look for activities and goals that push them to be all they can be.
  • Resolving pain and conflicts: whether in relationships or in their own souls, happy people do not avoid problems but do what is necessary to heal them.

These examples show that happiness does not just fall out of the sky and land in people’s laps. Happy people engage life and pursue their dreams.

My experience has been that when people get a wake-up call about their level of happiness in life, their first relaxation is that they are responsible for their own happiness, and their second realization is that they will need to pursue certain activities. I have seen many people who, having been stuck for years, finally “get it,” wake up and say, “I do not have to live like this. I am going to do something about my life.” Then they get busy, and a year later, I hardly recognize them.

But for that to happen, you have to find the “push.” You have to overcome the entropy and lack of movement that has dominated you for so long. You have to “do something.”

Other than those who might be clinically depressed or suffering from a real illness of some sort, there are two broad types of people reading this. The first is the type who, reading what I have written so far, gets up and gets moving. She says, “This makes sense. What have I been doing?” So she’ll call a support group, join Weight Watchers, sign up for that community college class, take up rock climbing, call a therapist, or do whatever she has been avoiding that takes a little effort. If this is you, God bless you. You’re on your way.

The second type is the one who reads this and finds that it resonates, wants to pursue change, but will probably not do anything. Is there hope for him? Absolutely, but not on his own. If this is you, you need two things: energy and structure. You have shown how, when left to your own devices, you are not going to self-motivate and do not have the needed discipline. So you have to find energy and structure from the outside.

I suggest that you get a buddy, an accountability partner, a group, a therapist, a class, a trainer, a coach, or whatever it is going to take to get you moving and continuing to move. At this point in your life, if you do not have outside structure and someone motivating you, you will slip back into passivity. But think about it this way: if to get active energy enough to get someone to push you or to join a class is being as active as you can be, that is great. They can help you from there. That is all you have to do, but you have to do it. Otherwise, you are in danger of continuing to do nothing and being lazy about your happiness.