It’s the time of year that people start struggling with feelings of low self-esteem, self-image and self-respect. The weather starts changing. It’s getting colder, the days are getting shorter. For some people, this time of year is miserable. Finding happiness can be a challenge this time of year, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider these ten things you can give up in exchange for happiness.
1. Caring what other people think
Many of us feel like we must live or die by the approval of others. Whether it’s someone at work, a family member, or a co-worker, fear of displeasing others can rule and ruin our lives. Whenever you’re in a situation where you’re struggling worrying what other people think of you, ask yourself, “Where does my true approval come from?”
That approval comes from God. He loves you, and cares for you, even if it feels like the rest of the world doesn’t.
2. Trying to please everyone
The simple fact is you can’t make everyone happy. Again, when you’re worried what others think of you, you’re going to have a hard time giving up being a people-pleaser. And if you spend your days trying to care only for others, how effective are you being at really taking care of yourself?
It’s really okay to say no. Worrying what someone will think? See #1.
3. Participating in gossip
It’s easy when you’re at work to “stand around the water cooler” so to speak, and share the latest dirt you heard about someone. It’s important to ask yourself when engaging in these situations, “How is this conversation beneficial?” The stress of worrying what others are doing, or worse, getting upset over what others do, will only bring you down. Allow yourself to give up gossiping.
The same goes in church. Asking prayers for someone is one thing – sharing someone else’s dirty laundry is another. Is Aunt Patsy struggling? Could she use some prayers? That’s fine – share that with those who will pray for her. But they don’t need to know that Aunt Patsy has a drinking problem, is behind on her mortgage and is planning on leaving her husband.
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. However, remember that when you give up that worry and anxiety, you’re allowing God to work through your situation. If you continue holding onto those feelings, you’re telling God that you’re not ready to give up control.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:25-27
Wanting to look nice in public is okay. Trust me, everyone around you appreciates that you shower regularly. However, constant fear of whether or not you look skinny enough, pretty enough, handsome enough, or happy enough will only drive your self-esteem farther down. When you’re feeling this way, ask God to show you the way He sees you. It’s a simple, yet profound request.
6. Taking everything personally
It’s incredibly easy to get offended if you feel you’re being attacked by someone. It’s also easy to allow that offense to build and grow, and replace your joy. Yes, there are rude people in the world. Heck, there may be rude people in your church. My encouragement here is to remember that people have struggles we never see. That rude person you passed on the street, or the guy who flipped you off in traffic may be having the worst day of their life. Instead of taking offense, take the opportunity to love them as Jesus does – even if they are being a complete jerk.
7. The past
Scripture tells us we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We’ve all made mistakes. We’re going to continue making mistakes. It’s part of being human. But the key to finding happiness doesn’t like in the past, it lies in your present. If you’re allowing yourself to feel bad for the things you’ve done, you’re never going to be able to move forward. Just as it’s important to forgive others, it’s equally important to forgive yourself. And after you lay down your burden, make sure you don’t pick it back up again.
8. Buying things you don’t need
We all have a God-shaped hole we’re trying to fill. Some of us try to buy stuff to shove in there, rather than allowing God to fill us with His love, grace, mercy, and peace. “Retail therapy” isn’t therapy at all. It’s a way to distract ourselves from what we’re struggling with. And I can promise you, the stuff you buy isn’t going to make you any happier.
Sure, for some, spending money can be fun. And I get it, it’s more comfortable to cry in a Lexus than a Corolla, but as it’s been said, “Stop buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.”
Ouch. That one can strike a nerve, right? Holding on to anger isn’t going to make you feel better. In fact, quite the opposite happens. The longer you stay angry at someone, the more distance is created between you. In some cases, this distance is inevitable. Boundaries are important, however, anger shouldn’t rule your life, nor should it be the reason you create boundaries in the first place.
Again, ask God to help you see others the way He sees them. Release your anger to the Savior.
How can God be in control if you refuse to give it up? Giving up control to Him isn’t a simple task, but one of the most important. In reality, when you refuse to give up control, you’re just allowing the situation to control you. Ask God for His grace and provision. And, as you begin to work on areas 1-9, you’ll find 10 comes much easier.
Remember, you were never meant to carry the burden of hurt and anger.