“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
There is some debate about who said that. It’s often attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Dale Carnegie in his famous How to Win Friends and Influence People gave Lincoln credit, but no original source for the quote seems to have been found among Lincoln’s writings or speeches.
The bigger debate might be: Is it true? Can a person, like you or me, be as happy as we make up our minds to be? Is that possible?
Is it also possible that we may choose to be unhappy, even in good situations? A certain farmer was known to constantly complain about his crops. It was too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, prices were low, and things always looked bleak. One year, the weather was perfect. The harvest set records and, at the same time, brought record high prices. Still the grumpy farmer looked glum. When asked why, he replied, “Do you know what a crop like this takes out of the soil?”
There will always be something negative. But there is also always something positive. Happiness is found, not in the something, but in the choice.
The apostle Paul wrote about a contentment that is independent of the circumstances. “I have learned the secret,” he insisted, “of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4: 12). His happiness was not anchored to rising and falling tides of life.
Imagine that. No, really, take a moment to imagine what it would be like if you could be as happy as you decided to be, regardless of your circumstances. Can you picture what it would be like to be as happy as you wanted to be — all the time? Anytime?
Your Father wants you to be happy (even when it’s not easy). God calls us to a land flowing with possibility. He stooped to our level to lead us to his — so that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10: 10). Joy is a fruit of his Spirit in a person’s life (Galatians 5: 22).
Might he of infinite resources also be able to lead us to joy without limits? Could it be true that folks can be as happy as they make up their minds to be? Jesus insisted that “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9: 23).
Even unlimited happiness?
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.