Summary of the book The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud
There used to be a commercial for the Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bar where there is a man swinging in his hammock trying to grab this nutritious bar off a tree stump. He ends up being unsuccessful getting the bar, because he won’t get out of the hammock to grab the food. All he had to do was stand up and take two steps, but instead he lets the food drop to the ground. Although the commercial is supposed to be funny, it is a good illustration of what happens when we choose to be inactive, or in other words…lazy. We miss out! Being happy takes effort. It is a choice we all make. We must reach out and grab happiness, or it will surely pass us by.
How do we reach out and grab happiness? We must engage with our time and invest in others. A few examples include:
1) Investing in relationships: this is often done through the church, or other organizations of interest, by getting involved with our time and meeting other people.
2) Pursuing goals: when a person is actively pursuing a goal, they tend to be happy.
3) Serving others: when we give of ourselves to make someone else’s life better, this tends to make us happy.
These are just a few examples of how happy people engage, but one common thread among these items is that they all require action. Happy people JUMP into life. They do not sit on the sideline. My husband and I rarely turn down an invitation and we both love an adventure. For him, it is traveling. For me, it is hiking through the mountains. No matter what activity we engage in, upon completion of the event, we always ask each other, “What did you learn? Anything new?” We take the approach that every experience we have teaches us something, thus making us wiser, and for us, this brings us great happiness. To receive this happiness, though, we must first act. We must first ACCEPT the invitation. We must MOVE off the couch and journey out into the adventure. Being happy takes work, and that work begins when we act.
Another aspect of happiness that ties into this is to remind ourselves that we are each responsible for our own happiness. No one else can make us happy. One day my husband came home with flowers, told me not to worry about the evening and spontaneously cooked me dinner. It was a wonderful night, but the problem was, I was in a bad mood before he walked in the door. It didn’t matter how nice he made the evening, only I could choose if I was going to be happy. He could not make me be happy. I had to choose to be happy. This can be very hard, because as human beings we tend to be driven by feelings. I didn’t “feel” like being happy that night. I didn’t feel like smiling, and my selfish desires were to make him miserable right along with me. I had enough sense, though, to recognize the effort my husband had put forth in creating a wonderful evening. I had a choice to make. I could let my selfish desires ruin the evening, or I could “choose” happiness. Choosing to be happy is another form of “doing.” I changed my attitude and was rewarded with a wonderful night.
To be happy, we must act…we must DO. If you have always wanted to write a book, then you must research the topic, take notes, sit at a computer and physically maneuver the keys to write words. You must DO. Happy people are not lazy. They are DOERS.
God warns against laziness. Proverbs 13:4 states, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” We’ve all known people that dream big dreams, but then waste day after day perched on the couch in front of the TV. They then wonder why their dreams never become reality. Usually it is because they spend most of their time “dreaming” instead of “doing.” (If we are honest, I think most of us can say we have fallen victim to the comfort of the couch one too many times. I know I can!) God told the Jews he would give them a Promised Land. At that moment, what greater happiness could there be for these people? Yet, the Israelites had to act on this information in order to receive this happiness. They had to go and claim the Promised Land. They had to DO. They could not stay where they were and expect to receive this promise. They could not exhibit laziness and expect to be rewarded.
I love Dr. Henry Cloud’s quote, “God has promised you abundant life, but he has not promised you an abundant life with no effort. Work on your happiness, take responsibility for it, get moving.”
I challenge each of us today to think about one thing that we have always wanted to accomplish. A goal we want to achieve. Write that goal down. Tape it to your computer screen, your bathroom mirror or on the front of the refrigerator door. Let it be a constant reminder. Then, take one step today toward achieving that goal. That one small step might be as simple as setting an appointment to get the ball rolling on a project, ordering a book to help you with some research or setting up lunch with a friend. Today, take a physical step towards happiness. Happy people are not lazy. Happy people DO.
Together with you,