The Less You Focus on Your Misfortunes and Desires, the Happier You Are?

Last updated on October 10th, 2019


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So I had a conversation with a friend a few days ago who’s been going through a hard time after a bad “break–up”. She’s sought after my advice throughout all of the circumstances that occurred in this situation with her and this guy, and as best as I humanely could, I’ve offered her practical advice which I know she’s appreciated. The hard thing though is sometimes I wish I could control her brain and her emotions, because right now she’s unable to take her focus off this having not gone her way, and because of her current amplification of negative emotions as a result of this situation, she’s focused on other things that haven’t quite gone her way in life. It’s understandable given these things can be difficult to move past. It got me thinking though. Given that I’m feeling pretty upbeat in my life in spite of my own difficult circumstances I’m currently enduring, is it really true that as the title of my blog states, the less you focus on your misfortunes and your desires, the happier you are?

Of course happiness is all subjective. One moment something makes you feel good, another moment something tempts you to get mad, sad, or distresses you. I don’t think scripturally there’s anything wrong with acknowledging our own hardships we’re currently enduring. It was noted that Jesus was distressed before he knew he was going to be crucified; Paul acknowledged his own hardships of being beaten and jailed to the Philippians.  But I think the problem is when you consume yourself into your own present challenges that are tempting you to be miserable.

Jesus was distressed before he was going to be crucified, but he prayed to God in the midst of that distress, and also in his prayer, in a sense he reminded himself of what the bigger purpose was when he stated, “yet not as I will, but you will”. Paul acknowledged to the Philippians his hardship of being beaten and jailed, but he also told them he was content with food and clothing, in a sense reminding himself he had things to be thankful for, which we’re commanded to be thankful always. Funny enough, science has more and more been proving that when one chooses to be thankful, when one is connecting themselves with a bigger purpose than themselves, they tend to be more joyful.

And there’s just so many other things that science is confirming generates happiness for humans that scripture has been talking about for years. Being a part of a community, giving of yourself to others. Having read scripture numerous times, I have a strong confidence in concluding that New Testament teachings primarily encourages us to focus our attention outwardly, on God and others, and less so inwardly. To focus our attention on the bigger purpose of things more than the minuscule day to day that we get ourselves sucked into so easily sometimes.

Philippians 4:8

Maybe there was really something to what Paul encouraged the Philippians to do in Philippians 4:8 which states, “8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” I know for myself in spite of a current challenge I’ve been dealing with, because I don’t dwell on when’s this gonna finally be better and just trust God’s gonna do whatever is best, because I focus on appreciating the good things I have in life (family, friends, my needs, music, laughter, etc), because I focus on making myself better in whatever way I can (eating healthy, exercising, etc), because I focus on the bigger purpose of God’s will being fulfilled as the most important thing beyond all of whatever desires and hopes I may have (reading and living the Word daily), and because I commune with people every day in conversation with my focus on them taking more of my focus off of me, I’m honestly the most joyful in spite of my circumstances that I’ve ever been. And I still have my moments where I’m not feeling particularly cheery, but I don’t allow myself to sink down to the level of sulking in misery. I instead just choose to maintain a relaxed state of mind in those moments until I’m ready to focus on something more positive.

Not an endorsement of prosperity gospel

And one thing I want to make very clear, this post is as sure as the deepest depths of the burning fiery hell below, not an endorsement of prosperity gospel. Because you know what, that focuses you more on you and your personal desires and probably makes you even unhappier because you’re constantly frustrated with not having what you want. And then once you get that thing, you probably just end up repeating the same cycle with wanting something else. This is about following what scripture teaches on focusing on living for God and thus loving Him, focusing on loving others, being thankful of what we have in life, praying and singing to God through our trials, and trusting it’ll all work out for whatever best scenario God sees fit. For myself personally, that’s brought me peace and contentment, and I honestly don’t worry much at all anymore, which not worrying or being anxious is a part of what God wants us to strive for in being Christians. And we become more of a light shining in this world and hopefully influencing people to become saved and live as followers of Christ.

With all that said, it’s my prayer that this post has encouraged you, and if you can, please share with someone else you know this might encourage as well. Peace to all those who are in Christ.


15 thoughts on “The Less You Focus on Your Misfortunes and Desires, the Happier You Are?

  1. Amen – very well said. A person can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Put God and others first in your life and you will not have time to be unhappy and negative. I choose to be happy! 🙂

  2. Before I became mentally ill, I had a very good disposition. Always a smile on my face, always an upbeat attitude. But I have noticed that since I was diagnosed Bipolar, I have not felt the joy that this scripture points me to. It is a struggle to simply focus and the Bible is so complex that my mind is vexed most times I read it. But I have trust and I have hope and I know God has saved me. In that there is joy and happiness. Thank you for sharing this wonderful topic. I would like to repost this on my blog if you could let me know how to do that. Thank you.

    1. Hi Eric. Thank you for your comment. Definitely true that people with mental illnesses have a unique challenge with managing their thought process. I’m glad you sought the necessary professional help and advice that you needed, and it’s wonderful that you’ve tapped into joy and happiness through faith. I appreciate your willingness to be open about your own struggles, which if anyone else with the same struggles reads your comment, it can hopefully encourage them in their struggles as well.

      You’re more than welcome to repost this on your blog. All you have to do is click the reblog button which is under the “share this” label.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much. I will try and find the “share this” label and the “reblog” button as well. I’m still new to this WordPress thing and am finding that sometimes I don’t have the same visuals as others have. I don’t know why, it just is what it is. Computers, ha! Thanks again for your kind words.

    1. Hi Katharina. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you agree. Hopefully we can influence others to have this thinking as well.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    1. Hi stressfreehomeschooling. Thank you for your comment. Exactly. Just as Jesus shared his feelings with God, so should we, and all things will work out for the best. Glad that this post could be a blessing to you.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  3. Thank you for your transparency, I shared this on my social media and believe it will encourage someone :). I agree there is something so beautiful and fulfilling about being part of something that is bigger than yourself. For me it’s volunteering, buying presents for others or simply listening to other’s situations and providing comfort during a difficult time, like you did with your friend. When we truly look around we realize how blessed we are.

    1. Hi Fallible. Thanks for sharing my post. I really appreciate that. That’s wonderful you do those things for other people. As we obey the second great command of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, hopefully our example draws others to God, and we inspire them to give the same love to others as well.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  4. Great post! When we are always in our own minds, and in others’, we can’t really focus on God and on those in need. This habit is only one of many things in this world that can distract us from doing God’s work, in His way. Joy is a fruit that naturally occurs along with our nearness to the Lord and will simply be there when we keep our focus on Him.

    1. Amen DLink. It’s a wonderful thing when one can come to those realizations. I hope through our daily example we’ll be able to help Christians who struggle in this area come to these realizations as well.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

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