National surveys agree: happiness is not happening. According to the annual Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, at its highest point only one-third of Americans surveyed said they were happy. By some estimates clinical depression is ten times more rampant now than it was a century ago. The World Health Organization forecasts that by the year 2020 "depression will become the second leading cause of disease worldwide."
All this negativity demands the question: Should we give up on the pursuit of happiness?
Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado says adamantly no. In his latest book, How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment and Unmet Expectations (Thomas Nelson, September 2019), Lucado offers wisdom for turning humanity's tide of unhappiness.
Over his more than 30 years pastoring, Lucado says he has found the hidden secret to lasting joy - giving that joy away to others. With his trademark winsome stories and his connection to people's everyday struggles, Lucado has found:
It is better to forgive than to hold a grudge, ...better to build up than to tear down, ...better to include than to exclude, ...better to seek to understand than to disregard, ...better to love than to hate.
Lucado says many people live as if acquiring more will bring them more joy. He believes this strategy is not working and recommends a very different recipe for happiness: "God's solution for the ills of society is a quorum of unselfish, life-giving, God-loving folks who flow through neighborhoods and businesses like cleansing agents, bringing in the good, flushing out the bad. They hail from all corners of the globe, reflect all hues of skin. Liberal, conservative, rural, metropolitan, young, old. Yet they are bound together by this amazing discovery: happiness is found by giving it away."
In How Happiness Happens, Lucado has condensed more than 50 "one another" statements found in the Bible into a list of ten top traits of happy people:
1. Encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11).
2. Bear with one another (Eph. 4:2).
3. Regard one another as more important (Phil. 2:4).
4. Greet one another (Rom. 16:16).
5. Pray for one another (James 5:16).
6. Serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
7. Accept one another (Rom. 15:7).
8. Admonish one another (Col. 3:16).
9. Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32).
10. Love one another (1 John 3:11).
Lucado challenges readers to participate in "The Happiness Challenge," a 40-day intentional practice to spread joy to others. "Set out to alter the joy level of forty people over the next forty days," he writes. "Pray for people, serve more, practice patience, and bring the best out in people. Keep a journal in which you describe the encounter and what you did. Make note of the moment. What was the setting? What did you learn? At the end of forty days, would your world be different? Would you be different? I certainly am. I took the challenge as I wrote this book. The experience was twice as difficult as I imagined but a hundred times more fulfilling than I ever thought it would be."
"Happiness is something everyone wants, but very few actually acquire," says Brian Hampton, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher, HarperCollins Christian Publishers. "How Happiness Happens offers exactly what the world needs in abundance right now. Max is a sage and transparent guide on the selfless road to joy."
Max Lucado is America's bestselling inspirational author, with more than 130 million products in print,. His writings have been shaped into bestselling books, videos, devotionals, songs, greeting cards, booklets, Bible studies, commentaries and theatrically-released movies. Lucado has been featured on countless national media outlets including The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, NPR's All Things Considered and Fox & Friends. Max and his wife of over 35 years, Denalyn, call San Antonio, Texas home. Max has served the people of Oak Hills Church since 1988. www.maxlucado.com