Brenda Cannon Henley: Happiness can be elusive

Brenda Cannon Henley: Happiness can be elusive

If someone asked you today, “Are you really happy?” what would your answer be? Think about it this very moment. Are you happy on the inside where it really counts? Or are you like so many, waiting for the next big thing to happen to make you happy? Guess what, chances are that when that next big thing happens, you won’t be happy then either.

I have seen many young people live for the day they turn 16 and get a driver’s license and, if they are blessed, that very first car. But we adults all know that new car comes with a need for gas, insurance, maintenance and, often, repairs. There are bad driving habits, new tires, speeding tickets, and in the worse case scenario, perhaps an awful accident lurking just around the curve. That exciting joy so anticipated turns into a burden and heavy responsibility.

How about those students? We have all seen them and loved them: “Once I get my degree and get a real job, I will be happy.” Not likely. If they are not happy now, chances are they won’t be happy then either. Young couples cannot wait to fall truly in love, plan that marvelous wedding, tell all their friends, gather up those wonderful gifts, and alas, once they settle down, they find that the dreamed-about happiness is elusive. They have accounts payable (and they just keep on coming every month), and someone has a nicer home, newer car, better vacation, and perhaps better marriage.

That job we once longed for becomes too difficult, the boss just doesn’t understand, coworkers don’t work, the pay is much too low to meet our needs, and the grass is greener somewhere else. Careful, that new and different job grass may be planted over a septic system. It may not provide the happiness we are seeking.

Middle-aged couples cannot wait for the empty nest. Our lives will be our own again. We will have more money and we can travel and do more things. But, alas, by the time we get the necessary funds in place, our health often declines and we cannot follow the dream we had been holding in our hearts. Or, God forbid, our children and grandchildren need us more than ever.

You know what I have discovered? We best make up our minds to be happy every step of the way. Every day should be treasured and not rushed through to get to that next big thing. For many, it will never come, and the years we have been given will be sacrificed waiting on our time to be happy. Happy is now. Claim it. Choose it. Live it. Here are some ideas that can help us to find and tame that elusive happiness today. Think about them as you read and discover that they can help you to be happy.

Give up thinking too much about what other people think of you.

Give up trying to please everyone.

Give up gossip (about anyone, including yourself).

Quit worrying.

Let go of insecurity.

Stop taking everything personally.

Give up the past.

Give up spending money on what you don’t need in an effort to buy happiness.

Give up anger.

Give up control.

Happy trails to us. May we ride each of them happily — no matter our ages.


“… I am come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).