Having a happy New Year depends on your attitude, not your resolution...

A lot of people out there are very unhappy with themselves. They are glad to be alive, but generally speaking, they find life sorta sucks. They don't like their job, they are stuck in a bad relationship, they aren't happy with the amount of money they have in their bank account, they have a few 20 lbs too many around their mid-section, they are are experiencing crushing levels of debt, and they don't feel they read the Bible enough. So seeing that a New Year brings with it new opportunities and the chance to start anew, people make a lot of resolutions to change their behaviors and imagine they'll be happy when they do such. But 15 days into it, they lose their resolve and spend yet another year rather unhappy with their life.

But therein lies the problem. What most people don't realize is that the level of happiness you experience this coming year will primarily depend on your attitude and perspective, and not on your circumstances and situations. The ironic thing about New Years resolutions is that people are attempting to become happy by changing their circumstances and situations instead of their attitude and perspective. And while I'm a big believer that people should have definite short and long-term goals and aspirations, one's that they've even taken the time to write down on paper, the quest for happiness should not depend primarily on these things.

The following are 5 attitudes and perspectives that will help you have a happy New Year:

1. Cultivate your relationship with God:

By this I don't mean simply increasing the amount of time you spend praying, reading your Bible, and regularly attending church. These things are important sure enough, but they don't make you have a relationship with God. Cultivating your relationship with God is about living your life with Him and for Him. It's about walking through life hand in hand with Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead, so that we might experience every day anew as we experience it with Him. It's about learning to think as Jesus thinks, and about having your heart beat with the things that cause His heart to beat. Apart from such a relationship with God, I have no idea how to have a happy life. Indeed, being that we were created by Him and for Him, I fail to see how any person could ever have a truly happy life. Some people might report having such without God, but please forgive me if I fail to imagine how such is possible.

2. Learn to love other people:

This second point is related to the first. As Jesus said, the greatest two commandments is to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. In learning to love God, you cannot help but come to the place where you love people. For your relationship with God and loving Him is directly correlated to your ability to love other people. And by loving other people, I don't simply mean loving your immediate family and close friends, and people who love you. Any idiot does that. I mean you come to the place where you love co-workers you don't get along with, strangers, your creditors, Muslims, bankers, homosexuals, pastors in denominations you dislike, MSNBC news anchors, Barack Obama, and people you might otherwise consider your enemy. And you not only "tolerate" and love such people, but you love them like you do you and your own life. You do crazy things like forgive them. Such takes a special type of grace. But such grace is available from God.

3. Make this year your best year:

For the past decade or so, I've made it my point to make every year I live the best year I've ever lived. I live with the attitude that the best is always yet to come. I don't sit there and long for the "good ol' days" of when I was in high school and college, and could live in a rather care-free way. Today is my good ol' day, and so will tomorrow be. And that will remain the case even should unfortunate circumstances arise that crush me. And that will remain even if my life begins to resemble the lyrics of a sad country song. For though I'm crushed I will not be destroyed. For I've grounded my life in my relationship with God, and God doesn't change. Jesus Christ was alive yesterday, is alive today, and will be alive tomorrow. I will always find joy even should my circumstances not make me very happy, for joy can always be found even in the darkest of moments when you realize that Jesus Christ always remains.

4. Give thanks:

At Elevation Church for this Christmas season, pastor Steven Furtick has had a series called "52 Days of Praise." At every service he has given every attendee 7 colorful index sized cards with a little "praise prompt." These "prompts" were to be read on a daily basis. I will admit, I never really used these cards. But I know some people that have, and some friends of mine on Facebook have taken pictures of these cards to share with others. Many people have found them a useful tool to foster a spirit of thankfulness in their lives. And such, frankly, is a spirit that a lot of people lack. A lot of people feel entitled to something because they think they "deserve" or have "earned" something. They are people who seldom ever show appreciation for anything they have. They almost never give thanks to God or thanks to others for anything they have, except perhaps as a way to be polite. But in reality, such a mindset keeps us from experiencing true happiness. For until you come to the place in your heart and mind where you realize you've earned and deserve nothing, and realize that everything you have is a gift from above, and was somehow delivered by God to you through somebody else, you'll never be truly happy in your life. For thankfulness fosters a content heart, and a content heart is one that is full and satisfied, and never feels it is somehow being robbed or missing out.

5. The grass is never greener than where you are at:

When you are full of thanksgiving and have a content heart, you will realize that the grass is always greener where you are at. However, most people suffer from thinking the grass is always greener on the other side of the proverbial fence. But I am always reminded in Psalm 23 how the Lord is my Shepherd, and how he leads me beside the still waters, and how he makes me to lay down in green pastures. Therefore, wherever I am in life, even when my circumstances seem less than ideal, when I realize that God is actively involved in my life and that every hair on my head is numbered, I realize that wherever I am is the place God has brought me to. And the place He has brought me is the place in which my soul can be nurtured. It is the place where my thirst can be quenched, and my stomach can be satisfied. It is the place where though my table is set before me in the presence of my enemies, my cup runneth over, and grace and mercy follow me all the days of my life. Wherever that place is, wherever I am at, God is there with me, and that is a great place to be.

Happy New Year!

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