Recently I sent an email out to some friends asking them to guest blog about happiness. As you probably know by now, our movie A Strange Brand of Happy is coming to theaters Sept. 13. This series is sponsored by the movie.
Happiness can be vague, elusive and subjective. What makes us happy? Can we choose happiness? Is it even a worthy or noble pursuit in the first place? These are questions I have asked myself for years. I don’t have all the answers. But my hunch is that my friends, as a collective, probably do. Over the next three months you will hear from my real-world friends – people of different faiths, backgrounds and experiences. This series is about taking those bits of truth we’ve all learned through our journey and compiling them to help one another find a better life. Today’s post is by a long-time friend Vince Antonucci. Vince is an accomplished author and the pastor of the The Verve church in Las Vegas. (Coincidentally, I will be speaking there on June 30th and July 1st.)
How to Be More Happy
By Vince Antonucci
In John 13 Jesus washes the dirty, smelly, very possibly animal crap coated feet of His friends. He then tells them, and us, to be foot washers. To be willing to do servant-hearted acts of kindness that are unexpected, and perhaps unexplainable outside of our faith in God. Jesus then concludes by saying, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).
What does “blessed” mean? Well, basically it means “happy.” But it’s deeper than that. It’s the kind of happiness that God can give us. It’s the kind of happiness that happens when we connect our lives with God, and He pours His life into us. It’s the kind of happiness Jesus was referring to in John 10:10 when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
And the path to that life, the path to that kind of happiness, is through serving.
This is obviously the opposite of what the world teaches you. The world says the path to true happiness, the road to the greatest possible joy is to serve yourself. To look out for number one and get as much as you can for you. It’s like: The faster car you have, the happier you’ll be. The bigger house you have, the happier you’ll be. The nicer clothes you have, the happier you’ll be. The larger your bank account, the happier you’ll be. Whoever dies with the most toys wins. That’s the way you find and achieve a full, abundant, happy life.
But Jesus says, “No. The way you find and achieve a full, abundant, happy life is through serving others, not yourself.” It’s like: You need to look out for everyone else. You need to give away as much as you can. The slower car you have, the happier you’ll be. The smaller house you have, the happier you’ll be. The worse clothes, the smaller the bank account. Whoever dies with the least toys wins.
I’ve sent hundreds of people on mission trips through our church and when people return they rave. “Vince, it was the best week of my life!” And they always think it’s because of where they were. “God is really moving in Laos. He’s doing incredible things there.” “If I lived in Haiti, I’d be close to God all the time, my life would be simpler and better there.” But it’s not because of where they were. It’s because of what they were doing. For a week, they just washed feet. They never thought about getting a faster car, bigger house, nicer clothes, or larger bank account. They worked their butts off, ate some gross food, had no entertainment, and hung out with poor people they wouldn’t give a second glance back at home.
And that was the best week of their lives? Yeah, it was. Not because of where they were, but because of what they were doing. Because Jesus told the truth: You will be blessed if you serve.
Happiness comes to those who stop seeking it, and start serving.
So what you think about Vince’s upside down take here? Have you found this to be true for yourself?