“To be happy, you must value happiness” sounds like one of those Proverbs that we agree with but don’t apply. In truth, we should pay more attention to these words of wisdom and live accordingly. We would be happier. Find out why and how valuing happiness will make you a happier person.
What Do You Value?
What do you value? Recently, I asked about forty people, both professionally and personally, that same question. Every person had to stop and think about it. Some people seemed embarrassed to answer. A few got slightly indignant, and some struggled to find an answer. How did you respond?
Like most people, you probably have a shortlist of people and things. Common answers include family, friends, job, home, and health. Even though all of us want to be happy, no one in my survey answered, “Happiness.” Only two people answered, “God,” which is the only way to complete happiness.
Why People Struggle Saying What They Value
I wondered why people had such a difficult time answering a question that has no wrong answer. So, I studied it. People struggle with acknowledging what they value because they’ve lost sight of it. The things you value most are your priorities in life. Your priorities are the things and people you focus on the most. Therefore, what and whom you focus on the most is what you truly value. You might claim to value one thing, but your focus may be on something totally different. For example, say you claim to value your children, but you focus on getting them involved in all kinds of sports. You buy the best equipment for them. Then, constantly tell them how to play better. What is your real focus? In truth, you’ve lost sight of what you claim is most important to you.
Here are four reasons people lose sight of what they value. See if you can relate to any.
- Get distracted
- Are too busy
- Never had much value to begin with
Distracted Because of Competition and Criticism
By nature, we are competitive, greedy, jealous, impatient, and self-centered. Therefore, it’s easy to become distracted by what other people have. Comparing yourself to other people creates competitions that you’ll want to win. So, instead of focusing on how blessed you are with what and who you have, you’ll focus on wanting more or being better than your competition.
One way to make yourself better than others is by criticizing them. Conversely, our need for acceptance makes us averse to being criticized. This double standard distracts us from what we truly value.
If you were criticized and judged by your parents or others instead of valued, you’d be the one to create a high opinion of yourself. This overestimation of oneself is known as pride. The worst sin of all, pride, causes us to judge and criticize others as a means to prevent the pain of rejection. Therefore, pride causes you to value yourself by focusing on other people’s flaws.
Distraction Because of Pain
Besides the pain of criticism, other emotional and physical pain can distract you. We are wired to avoid pain. However, pain is inevitable. Therefore, when we have any pain, we tend to focus on getting relief. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, hospital councils for accreditation, and the medical community have prioritized pain relief. Likewise, too many parents try to prevent their children from experiencing the pain of disappointment. Therefore, they are less inclined to tell their children, “No.” This kind of pain has become intolerant and taboo.
Certainly, there some conditions require pain relief. But, we must be careful that we don’t cancel out our ability to tolerate pain. If you lose the ability to handle physical or emotional pain, you’ll lose faith. And, fear will prevail. You, the people, and the things you value will suffer because you’ll be too focused on being “afraid of…” rather than having faith in Jesus Christ. Remember, the what and whom you focus on the most determines your behavior.
Competition, averting criticism and avoiding pain keep us busy. Maybe that’s part of the reason people are so busy these days. Most conversations I have with people include the phrase, “so busy.” With so many people being so busy all the time, our Gross National Product should be record-breaking. And, “Now Hiring” signs should be a rare sight. Neither is true. Productivity is not equivalent to busyness. Much of today’s busyness is fruitless. And now, people can make more money by not working!
When I ask people exactly what they are so busy doing, they usually respond, “Oh, you know….” Honestly, I don’t. And, it’s apparent they aren’t impressed with their accomplishments since they can’t recall any. Unimpressively busy people don’t focus on anything productive. Therefore, they rely on other people to give them something to value. Such reliance creates temptation for both parties.
Temptation is Satan’s way of getting you to sin – transgress God’s law. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Today, you don’t have to get out of bed to be tempted. And, instead of being led into temptation, you carry it around with you.
Cell phones are a significant source of temptation. It’s easy to peek at your screen to see who’s texting, trending, or posting when you know you should be working, studying, or listening. Therefore, you focus on doing what you feel like doing instead of doing what is right.
In the natural (our nature), we prioritize our instincts and feelings. Therefore, we do what we feel like to get what we want instead of doing what is right and just. Temptation comes out of our nature only to keep us stuck there. How many times have you done something you felt like doing but knew wasn’t right and felt guilty about it afterward? Then, you were tempted to do something else that wasn’t right to ease your guilt. It’s easy to get caught in this cycle that makes you constantly focus on misery and relief.
Who are the Tempters?
Marketing strategists know how easy it is to tap into our nature. They tempt you into buying things you don’t need and can’t afford. Moreover, they condition you into believing it’s so essential that you should have it right now. Therefore, you focus on instant gratification.
Advertisers aren’t the only ones promoting temptation. Parents foster temptation by giving their children credit cards. Since credit cards are abstract currency, children can easily imagine the credit card will cover the purchase of whatever they want. It becomes easy for them to focus on getting what they feel like they naturally deserve.
Parents also cave to temptation when they give their young children cell phones based on the assumption, “In case something happens.” This message provides children with a sense of impending doom. So, the phone becomes necessary for survival. Children learn to value safety and security by focusing on the need for technology.
Society’s Reformed Temptation
Temptation is not restricted to acquisition. It’s a rampant deception that society constantly ameliorates into acceptable behaviors. Society’s proliferation of uninhibited sex and vulgar language has reformed degenerate actions into normal social behaviors. Moreover, the mainstream media has abolished temptation by making individuals’ amoral behaviors nothing less than ordinary conduct. This revised form of temptation gives value to wickedness and allows people to focus on fulfilling their desires and urges.
Lack of Esteem
Self-centered people focus on themselves because no one else did. The last reason people lose sight of what they value is that they never had it in the first place. Abused and neglected children grow to see themselves as worthless, damaged goods or commodities used for other people’s pleasure. In addition, children raised by parents who compromised moral and ethical values or had weak core values continue to be influenced by the laws of nature instead of God’s laws. As a result, they value life by focusing on survival.
When you focus on surviving, you live in survival mode – your natural and primal way of existence. It’s how we are born. Scripture refers to this level of existence as living in the flesh or sinful nature. To live in survival mode means you are always on the lookout for danger and strive to dominate. Therefore, you tend to expect the worst and try to control others. Your primary emotions are fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. These negative emotions cause anxiety and depression, which cause you to focus more on yourself.
Nature is in Opposition to Happiness
Nature is central to why people lose sight of what they value. Don’t underestimate the power of your nature and natural emotions. The Apostle Paul is explicit about what happens when we prioritize and focus on our nature. He reminds us how our nature contradicts the Spirit of God. Since complete happiness comes from the Spirit of God, we can conclude that our nature is in opposition to happiness. Therefore, if you value happiness, you cannot focus on your nature.
Don’t let competition, pain and fear, busyness, temptations, and low self-esteem make you transgress from what really matters. When you value something, you prioritize and pay attention to what he, she, or it needs to function well. You nurture, support, and protect what you value because you want it to last. In fact, we often want to pass the things we value on to other people.
To Value is to be Disciplined, Committed, and Willing
A lot of time and effort is required to nurture and preserve what you value. Therefore, it’s not always easy. It’s challenging when you’re hurt or tired. So, to value someone or something, you must be disciplined, committed, and willing to submit and serve – abilities we have, but choose if and when we want to engage them.
The willingness to submit and serve others comes from another type of value. These are core values – the beliefs we have about what is right and wrong and most important in life. Our core values control our behaviors.
God created people and rules for the people to follow so we could live in His love and be happy. A summary of His laws includes Honesty, Empathy, Accountability, Respect, and Trust (HEART). These rules are systemic core values that must be obeyed so everyone can experience peace, joy, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment.
To Value Happiness You Must Be God-Centered
Therefore, to be happy, you must value happiness by focusing on the core values that God gave us. You must be God-centered, meaning you must love God first. When you put God first, everyone and everything you value will be blessed and a blessing.
Our Two Minds Must Work Together to Value God
To value God, you must feel His presence, and you must know Him. Therefore, God created us to have two minds. We are born into the world with instincts and emotions that allow us to exist and have deep intuitions. But, they do not create happiness.
They are a function of our first mind that develops, our subconscious mind. Our second mind, the conscious, comes alive after we are born. It is located above our subconscious mind and makes us knowingly aware of the world. Our conscious mind gives us a higher level of understanding that inspires happiness.
The Earthly Subconscious Mind and Spiritual Conscious Mind
We can describe our conscious and subconscious minds the same way Jesus explained himself to those who didn’t believe Him. “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23) Therefore, we can connect our subconscious mind to earthly (natural) ways and our conscious mind to the Spirit of God.
While our subconscious mind protects our existence, our conscious mind discerns right, wrong, good, and bad. It’s where we think through situations and assess outcomes. The conscious mind allows us to know God through His Word and the teachings of Jesus Christ. But, both minds are necessary to have a complete relationship with God.
Jesus taught his followers the truth that often conflicted with their beliefs. However, because he valued them, He persisted with love and patience. You must do the same for yourself. Your subconscious mind may be filled with false beliefs that other people or you created. But, your conscious mind knows the truth, and through love and persistence, it must teach that truth to your subconscious mind. You do this through conscious awareness and repetition of good thoughts and the use of good words. Then, your subconscious mind will create good habits that will protect and promote who and what you value.
How Your Habits Affect the Value of Your Happiness
Assess your habits. How do they affect who and what you value? Do they bring you closer to God or push you from God? Do they line up with the core values? If they lead you to a conscious awareness of joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment, you value happiness. On the other hand, if you are left feeling sad, angry, and resentful, stuck, dissatisfied, or guilty, your values are not God-centered.
How to be God-Centered
Figure out what prevents you from being God-centered. Do this by paying attention to how you value the important things in your life.
- Do you practice the core values within the confines of love with people? If not, what prevents you from doing that?
- What obstacles do you need to remove?
- What do you need to eliminate?
- Who do you need to remove from your life?
- What do you need to replace what you removed or eliminated?
To become more God-centered, read and study the Bible for wisdom. Pray for God’s help and find good role models. Seek therapy or counseling for guidance if necessary.
Being Happy Here is a Primer for Eternal Happiness
God created us to be happy in this world as a primer for eternal happiness in His kingdom. To be happy, you must value happiness. To value happiness, you must value God. When you value God, you’ll focus on how to have eternal happiness. Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves [material] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-22 AMP)