The happiest are people who …

By Curtis Shelburne: CNJ Columnist

Are you happy?

If that question catches you off guard and you’ve really not thought of it in awhile, chances are that you really are. Happy, that is.

One sure way to be unhappy is to spend a lot of time asking yourself often and with the deepest feeling you can muster, “Am I happy?”

By the way, another sure-fire path to unhappiness is to spend a lot of time around either of two kinds of people: navel-gazers always asking themselves if they are happy, and folks who seem to feel guilty when they are happy (as in “content”) too long.

Chase happiness as a goal and you’ll find you always chase it away. It can’t be had that way because by its very nature, real happiness is a wonderful byproduct of living a life not focused on self.

Happy people are almost always surprised when a bothersome busybody like me asks the question, “Hey, are you happy?” Their reaction is usually something like, “Well, I’ve not thought about it all that much . . .” That’s a key, you see. “But, yeah, now that you mention it, I really am.”

It’s not a scientific survey, but I’ve tried to think of some common qualities the happiest people I know seem to share. In no particular order:

The happiest people I know come from families who are very good at being happy.

The happiest people I know are people who know something about balance. They work and play equally well.

The happiest people I know like their work but love life and know their work is just part of their lives, not the whole show. I’ve known some over-achievers I’d say seemed fairly happy but their Type A-ness is more a challenge to their happiness than conducive to it. And it can be challenging indeed to the happiness of those near them.

The happiest people I know take pleasure in small things and rank them as among the best blessings of all. Sunrises, sunsets, naps, flowers, grandkids, puppies, good books, good food, sweet songs, hugs.

The happiest people I know realize that bigger and more only occasionally mean better.

The happiest people I know laugh often and know that life is far too serious business to always take seriously (or to always be business).

The happiest people I know invest time not only in friends they can trust but in friends they can trust themselves to.

The happiest people I know are deeply content and not ashamed of it. I keep coming back to that word: balance. Not stagnant, neither are they particularly “driven.” They enjoy their own company, but also have deep friendships. They have goals but they keep their eyes open to the joys along the road. They seem to know instinctively that it is on the journey, and not in reaching the goal, that life happens.

The happiest people I know not only love life, they love the God who gave them life. They know he loves them and that when he looks at them, which is always, he looks at them with eyes filled with a Father’s joy.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at: ckshel@aol.com