I think the saying "happiness is a journey, not a destination" is a profound truth. It may sound like a trite cliché that looks great on a sign you hang on your wall, but I propose that it's a good guiding motto for life. Too often I've lived with the wrong mindset that I'd be happy if this person would change, or that circumstance in my life were different. Happiness became as elusive as chasing the wind. There were two events in my life that dramatically changed that way of thinking for me.
The summer I turned fifty I went to the beach by myself overnight. I knew there were some things twisted up inside my heart that could only be straightened out with a good long talk with God while I walked by the sea. My heart was full of unforgiveness and bitterness towards others and about circumstances in my life that I was unhappy about. I can take you to the exact spot on the beach where God spoke to my heart these three simple words, "Build your life". He gave me the understanding that I had been focusing on all of the unchangeable things in my life, other people and certain circumstances that I had no control over, while I had been ignoring things I could change. Shortly after that I quit a job that had become way too stressful and which was limiting my availability for ministry at our church. I also began pursuing things I love to do, such as writing and photography.
Not long after that trip to the beach, I also began to keep a gratitude journal, which I have now been keeping for over six years. Every day I take notice of at least three things to be thankful for and I write them in my journal. Each Sunday evening, I write a blog post about all of the blessings that I counted from the previous week.
It was those two things, choosing to shift my focus to the things I could change about my life rather than focusing on what I could not change, and learning to see and give thanks for the many daily blessings in my life, that caused me to find happiness in the journey of my life.
(You can pre-order my friend Jennifer Lee's new book The Happiness Dare. Find out how here!)