Did you know there’s an official day for reclaiming your time? Me either, but if you want to get your time back, apparently today is the day. October 24th is Take Back Your Time Day. Seriously. Here’s the official statement from http://www.timeday.org In July 2011, the United Nations urged all member nations to make “the pursuit of happiness” the goal of their governments and (here it is) find ways to measure their success. It further claims that “Take Back Your Time is a major United States/Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and our relationships, our communities and our environment.” My comment? True that! There is no doubt that we are over committed in many areas of our daily life. Over scheduled frenetic lifestyles have become so normal, we wouldn’t know what to do if we had 3 days of unplanned, white space on our calendars. I can’t fault the idea of pursuing happiness and agree that we need to reclaim some calming, restful times to unwind the tension and loosen up. But I have news for the organizers of this ‘major initiative’. The government will never be able to generate happiness! The celebration might be a packed agenda with great speakers and helium filled balloons and confetti shot from gold plated cannons – and I would be the first one to applaud their attempts. I would also be the first one to ask the organizers how much of their time did they give to the cause. Are they the models of success at ‘taking back their time’? We can all agree it’s a great concept, fabulous idea, nice try – but boys and girls, taking back our time is not a government regulated commodity, nor is it metric that can be measured.
Do we know where happiness comes from? Do we know where joy comes from? Did you know that these terms Joy and Happiness are not interchangeable? Remember this is my blog, so these are my opinions shared here and you can agree or disagree – but what you read here is what germinates in my mind, smolders in my heart, and winds through many twisting turning thought paths before ending up here. Happiness comes from external circumstances, things that happen in our lives that are good, consoling, make us feel good and we are happy. When I wish you a good day, I want only the best of circumstances for you so your day will make you feel happy and be happy. As parents we want our children to be happy, or grandchildren to be happy. Sadly, life is full of unhappiness. Circumstances are huge barriers to happiness. Life is never perfect – in fact, life is tough, anything but perfect.
So where is this happiness? We can’t buy it on the street corner or get it from reading all the books on topic. Joy is internal. We all have it because it was given to us at birth. Some are better at deepening the roots of joy so its characteristics become stronger, some are better at snuffing out worry before it begins to smother their joy, some are better at producing a livelier crop of joy – but we all have it. Joy, even from its most miniscule existence can be cultivated to proliferate despite our circumstances. We’ve got the formula – it’s proven to work 100% of the time. This is not marketing my dear friends. This is truth. Joy is manifested from the inside and if we get the inside right, the outside will take care of itself. Philippians 4: 8-9 whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Someone at work said to me one day, “You’re always so happy.” They were dead wrong. No, I am not happy. I am joyful – despite my circumstances. Today I am thankful that God gives us the tools we need to be joyful. Come what may, our God gives us everything we need to survive and thrive in this present world.
The government will never be able to legislate happiness, nor will they be able to measure it. Our only hope for happiness is to generate it from the inside out. From joy that is at our core because our priorities are in the right order: Jesus Others You (J.O.Y.)