For the past few weeks, I’ve had the joy of being part of Jennifer Dukes Lee‘s Launch Team for her new book, The Happiness Dare, which is being released today. This book has been quite the journey and one I’d like to share with you to encourage you to take the plunge as well and have your heart awakened to greater happiness in Christ.
Recently, I asked someone close to me if there was one thing he could change about me, what would it be. His answer surprised me. He said something like: “I’d like to know that you’re happy. I’d like to see that you’re enjoying life. I never know if you’re really truly happy.” It saddened me to hear this and made me realize just how little of God’s Light I was shining to those around me.
Jennifer teaches her readers that happiness is not just a whimsy feeling, but a beautiful gift from God that He holds out to us daily. As she puts it in her book:
Sadly, I’ve been shutting my eyes to so much of this great gift. The Happiness Dare has reminded me to look at the world again with fresh, childlike eyes. So on holiday recently, I soaked in the excited chatter of my oldest daughter, as we drove to the top of a mountain to have a ride on the luge. Her anticipation was priceless: her enthusiasm and palpable joy poured out onto the rest of us. And it made me realize how much of that anticipatory happiness (something Jennifer talks of) I often refuse to receive because I’m too busy overanalysing what could go wrong, or dwelling on the things that could possibly spoil the experience. My daughter reinforced what Jennifer shares in her book:
Children receive the gifts of God more readily because they open their hands to them: they lunge into life, pouring out their joy into the lives of others without even realizing it. God calls us to become like little children, and I see that as Him inviting us to open our hands as our children do, to truly taste and see the goodness of God in the land of the living.
One of the wonderful tools in Jennifer’s book is her description of various happiness styles and a test to discover your preferred styles. She shows us how we can open our hands to happiness as a relater, thinker, giver, experiencer and doer. She explains that we were all created to experience happiness in a unique way, but also that there is so much undiscovered happiness awaiting us in our least preferred styles and in choosing to bless those around us by gifting them with opportunities to discover happiness in their preferred styles, which do not always correspond to our own.
For me, this has helped me to see how my thinker happiness style can also cause me to quash my own and others’ happiness, where I let it take over, rather than complement and bless. Where I let it complement it enables me to flourish as a thinker and engage others in discovering the gifts of God:
But where I let the thinker turn to overanalysing and resting in fear it can cause me to hide away and become incredibly sullen, hoarding what God has gifted me to share. This, together with Amy Carroll’s new book, Breaking Up With Perfect, which I’ve been reading for an online Bible Study, made me realize how I had stopped wearing pretty dresses because I was fearful of the attention directed at me and how I still had a pile of thank you cards waiting to be written and sent because I was worried that a mere “thank you” was not enough for the blessing these friends had been to me. By refusing to open my palms, I was also refusing to bless others (my husband with the dresses and my friends with the words of encouragement) all because I allowed fear, rather than God’s Presence and defining Love the upper hand. Once I opened my palms in trust, I discovered great joy in the freedom of wearing dresses that made me feel beautiful and made my husband smile and in hearing how the simple gift of a handwritten card brought such encouragement to many of my friends when they needed it most.
I also began to realize that where I put my thinking cap on to find and create opportunities for my do-er/giver daughter, my relater/giver daughter and giver/experiencer husband to discover happiness in challenging tasks, sharing fun moments together and planning and carrying out exciting activities breaking up the mundane, our happiness as a family can be multiplied. This takes careful and deliberate planning, my willingness to step out of my comfort zone, conscious decisions to step away from easy distractors (such as Facebook!!) and to open my mouth and speak what rolls around in my mind: to share, rather than hoard. A challenge for this thinker, for sure, but SO worth it.
Finally, this book blessed me, by Jennifer choosing to be real. Unlike some, she recognizes that true happiness can only come, where we also allow ourselves to grieve and weep. She shares the story of a mother who lost her beautiful daughter in horrendous circumstances, but who rediscovered happiness, when she chose to both truly face and begin to grieve her loss in God’s arms AND to fight for happiness by gifting it to others (beginning with a party for her daughter’s little friends) and encouraging others to spread happiness through deeds of kindness in honor of her daughter each year on her daughter’s birthday. Through this, Jennifer shows us that through each and every circumstance, even in suffering and grief, in streaming tears:
I am so incredibly thankful to Jennifer for writing this book and blessing us by sharing her own divinely-led journey of discovery. I pray that as she releases it into the world today in faith and trust, that God would multiply its blessing to the glory and coming of His Kingdom.