Are You Happy Now?

People tend to live for the future. We hope to be happy someday. As soon as our eyes flutter open on a solid new morning, our minds close in on the hours ahead.

Like this morning, when dawn glowed outside my bedroom curtains, I could have lingered in her dreamy calm. Instead, my inner manager shoved her aside:

“Ugh, it’s later than I thought. What is happening today? Oh yeah, friends are coming for dinner. Before that, I gotta clean the house, make a few calls, take the dog to the vet, and figure out what to cook. I’ll never get it all done!”

Good-bye, happy zone, hello, troubled future!

My mood went from glad to anxious in a snap. My mind mapped the morning to plan the day to actualize an evening. Exhausted before my feet hit the floor.

And I live my life–I mean–I plan my life that way.

Delayed Gratification

As a little kid, I didn’t think much about happiness. Instinctively, I reached for my pets, my blanket, or my mom for immediate satisfaction. Later, I learned to hold out for future fun. Like planning a visit to cousins next weekend or a trip to the beach in the summer.

I recall as a ten-year-old, my euphoria before visiting my dog at his new home. My parents had recently separated, forcing Mom and us kids to move to a smaller place. We had to give our big mutt away. My mother had promised we’d visit him. The anticipation of seeing the pup I loved was swelling in my chest that morning. A bliss resting on that future reunion.

Now as a grandma, I sometimes placate my grandkids by explaining, “Your daddy and mommy will be back in a few hours” or “Nonna and Poppa will visit again in 2 days.” Children learn early that some of their happiness is outside their grasp but held in a predictable plan.

Happy Ever After

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I believed in and lived for future bliss:

  • I put my hope in Christ and in a heavenly afterlife
  • I expected great things that God would eventually do on earth
  • I prayed for speedy relief for people in distress, including me
  • I longed for the moment when contentment would settle in my soul

I knew that happiness was not the highest goal in life. Love and purpose and sanctification were bigger and better concepts to chase than were contentment or a sense of well-being. They promised loftier rewards.

However, we humans naturally seek happiness. We want pleasure, not pain. We move toward food that tastes good, music that enhances our mood, people that love us, information that matches our beliefs. We pursue comforts that keep us comfortable.

Sometimes we avoid the donut to gain the pleasure of losing weight. Often we save our money for the reward of spending it later. We even take up our crosses in the hope that Joy approaches along the road. She may be miles away, meeting us when we’re old or even dead. But still, we all want happy-ever-afters.

I Wanted Everything

In the Out of the Grey song, “I Want Everything,” I wrote and sang of wanting everything that God had promised me:

You’ve given me a heart for the journey
You’ve given me a part in this story of yours
I’m a new creation, I can’t stay the same
I have an expectation someday things will change

I’m gonna keep searching, I gotta keep hoping
‘Cause I want everything, I want everything
I’m never gonna settle ’cause I want better, I want everything
I want everything you promised me

It’s all about longing for the good to come. I had an expectation that someday things would change.

Today I am as old as I’ve ever been. My vision is diminished. Less focus and more floaters cloud the field. Now I see that many changes I’ve waited for will not arrive. Physical issues and relationship predicaments probably won’t get fixed and may actually get worse. Many of the prayers which I lifted to the heavens, I’ve let fall like lead balloons.

I still want everything. But maybe what I want is what needs to change. Perhaps I already have what it takes to be happy now.

Happy Now: 3 Happiness Practices

Some say the feeling of happiness is available at any time.

In our inner confusion, in the hard parts of marriage, the craziness of raising kids, the chronic pains of aging, the mundane patterns of daily life–surely bliss isn’t dependent on these problems resolving.

Isn’t it there in the spark of happiness as we enjoy the coffee, as we warm to the physical touch of someone we love or enjoy the neon greens of a burgeoning spring? There is no time for delight like the present. For in reality, all we have is now. We cannot experience more than the moment we are in.

So how to practice happiness?

1. Have Gratitude: We all know that counting our blessings is the best way to bliss. Wanting what we have is all we need. You may even be living the dream you had of your life years ago. What part of now is exactly what you hoped for then? What a gift!

2. Mark the Memory: Recall a sublime moment and then hold the emotion. Create pleasant thoughts of someone you love. Lift a smile to your lips. Feel, memorize, and translate it to the here and now!

That little girl who visited her lost dog lives on in me somewhere. Remembering my bliss in anticipating his thick fur, my contentment at discovering he was OK without me: all are part of the past I can transfer to my body now.

3. Know Now: Take notice of the present moment. Use your senses. What do you see, hear, feel? This is where life exists and where satisfaction can be developed.

Do worried thoughts and harsh voices harangue your inner world? Take notice–then let them pass. Don’t believe everything your brain has to say. When mental language is not defining experience, experience is free to be free! Mindfulness and meditation practices are great for getting present.


I still hope and pray for good things to come. Yet, I also soak in happiness now. What I feel is somewhat within my grasp. What I know is this moment we’re in. May I, may you, may we be happy now.

10 thoughts on “Are You Happy Now?”

  1. Hi Christine! I sure have missed you…even though you still help me walk on my treadmill. That includes “I Want Everything” that came up in my play list within the past couple of days. I can lecture myself 24/7 about living in the here and now (“The Only Moment”), but my heart automatically translates hope to be in the future. And as a southerner my expectations are set low to avoid disappointment where I can. Ha!

    My husband is no longer working. I miss clean floors, being able to pray out loud, and privacy! I lost my regimented and organized life while trading them for more flexibility and compassion for him. I love him. But I miss being on top of things and being in the zone. And I am having to admit that I’m not as inwardly strong as I would have hoped – I would never survive in a POW camp (or extended time with my in-laws)!

    What you offer is the comforting realization that I’m not alone in feeling my age and 3 steps to practice happiness. I like the homework…which ironically gives me hope. Thank you for BOTH the realization and the steps!

  2. Christine, you’ve expressed the 3 ways to practice happiness so well – keep it going! Here’s a poem I wrote which expresses my views of how happiness can be singular or plural.

    Tender Reaches

    There’s a world
    Above the World,
    Where I’m perched
    And excited;
    My body swaying,
    My eyes flying;
    Where I’m so happy
    In my bright solitude.

    There’s a world
    Around the World,
    Where we’re lost
    In the lunges;
    With spooning bodies,
    And mirror eyes;
    Where we’re sweaty friends
    In our cozy multitude.

    There’s a world
    Within the World,
    Where I’m deft
    And elated;
    My mindset intent,
    My heart gallant;
    Where I’m so glowing
    In my game attitude.

    There’s a world
    Throughout the World,
    Where we’re tuned
    To each other
    With varied mindsets
    And vivid hearts
    Where we’re mingled souls
    In our vital plentitude

  3. Seeing you reference one of my favorite OOTG songs prompted me to read your post. Your insightful words resonated with me, leading me to recall what my wife and I experienced this past January with my mother’s passing. She spent her final days in a hospital bed in a retirement apartment with my father. Given his dementia, we could not leave them alone for any length of time. As a result, she and I took turns with a difficult vigil each of those final days, giving her medications, one of us taking my father to meals or keeping him occupied and so on. Our only breaks came when we were relieved for about six hours by several of her friends. We’d share a glass of wine before grabbing a few hours of sleep. Those few minutes alone were the oasis amid the harsh reality of the final days and hours of my mother’s life and what would occur afterwards. And we cherished each moment.
    We’re still addressing the emotional impact of that experience and the new challenges that now include both our surviving parents living in a nearby memory care unit. Your words provide a focus to seek the blessings we have in our lives. Which are many. We still have two parents, her adult kids, dear friends and on.
    I thank you for sharing your experiences as they will us address ours. When I have some truly quiet time, I will listen again to “I Want Everything.” No doubt it takes on an ever more wonderful prominence.

  4. Excellent! I love that you share your story and give some great tips to get reconnect to our hearts. Thanks for sharing. Your authenticity is refreshing.

  5. I pray we each learn to truly be appreciative of what we have, even when we feel we have so little. Trust in our Lord and don’t focus on the storm. God never promised an easy road while we walk this Earth. Remember:

    Joseph did into slavery
    Noah saw everyone die
    Daniel captured
    Job lost everything
    Apostles killed
    Jesus beaten and killed

    Look to the finish line

  6. Hi Christine! It is always uplifting to read one of your posts! I can relate to what you’re saying. My husband passed away almost 7 years ago and I’ve been pondering how I’ll mark the seven-year anniversary and try to get on with my life instead of looking back so often (I’ve had some good grief counseling to help me but it has been hard.) I have also been talking to (and worrying about) a good friend who is suffering from brain cancer. Since my husband died from the same thing, I have really prayed and hoped that I could *help* her and use what I’ve learned, instead of being triggered by what she’s going through. My friend and I had a good phone call a week ago and we talked about how so often our culture wants to promote some perfect day when we’ll be thin, happy, rich, good looking, at peace, etc etc….but even as Christians we are taught to be content and find joy in the day we’re in. I learned the hard way (well I hope I learned) that worrying so much about how long my husband had, or what was going to happen, well, it took any happiness in the present day away, instead of making any difference about what was going to happen. I don’t know how much longer my friend has or how her suffering will turn, but in our phone call we laughed and we talked about how *nobody* really knows how long they’ve got; and you have to be able to laugh and smile and find the good and DRINK it while it’s hot. Like tea. You have to pull out the tea bag after a proper steep or the tea will get bitter. After our phone call I prayed again that I had helped her and she later relayed to me that she loved the phone call with me because I “talked about the important things” and I was so grateful to hear that! It was answered prayer and I can only hope that I continue to learn and support her and be someone she will want to call. Thank you so much for your post and for allowing me to share.

    • Oh, thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts and then to share yours here! You have been through a lot yet could take advantage of the opportunity to just “be” with your friend. Wonderful stuff here now ( :


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