A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Expressing God, Personal Growth and Progress, Staying Positive

What makes you happy?

It's often the simple things in life that make us happy. In reality, however, it's not "things" at all.

One 12-year-old boy said, "It makes me happy to read books to a 3-year-old girl who enjoys them so much that she wants me to read more and more and more! It makes me happy to see a 3-week-old boy cuddled in his mommy's gentle arms snoozing in the endless multiverse of interesting ideas to ponder."

So why do so many people struggle to find happiness? Maybe they're looking in the wrong places. Maybe they're not grateful for what they have all around them. Madame Blueberry (from Veggie Tales) wants to be happy but doesn't know how. So she goes shopping to "Stuff Mart" to buy things to make her happy. During her spree, she sees a little girl who gets only a piece of pie for her birthday, but is still happy; she sees a little boy whose dad can't afford to buy him the big train, so he is happy with a little red ball. Madame Blueberry is amazed and wants what they have.

What they have is gratitude: "a thankful heart is a happy heart." They continue singing: "I'm glad for what I have, / That's an easy way to start." Gratitude brings happiness. It's hard to be depressed, lonely, sad, mad, frustrated, or resentful when we're grateful. A grateful heart makes us aware of what we already have, of what God has already given us.

Sometimes, though, it may seem that God hasn't given us enough. Let's look at how Jesus faced lack. On two different occasions, there were 5000+ and 4000+ people to feed. All they had were a few loaves and fish. Did Jesus grumble, get upset, or complain? Did he adopt a "gloom and doom" approach and worry? Nope.

Jesus was grateful: "Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people" (Luke 9:16 NIV). He was thankful for what they did have. And what they had was enough … more than enough.

Jesus emphasizes this point in his parable of the Prodigal Son. The older son who stayed home was quite upset that his dad gave his younger brother a party when he came home after having wasted away all his inheritance. How did the father (who is representative of God) respond? He said, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31 CEV).

Everything God has is ours, now and always. That's something to be grateful for – enough to make our hearts happy. Such happy hearts can face difficult or depressing circumstances that could potentially make us unhappy – but only if we let them. We have the choice to be grateful, to be happy. Happiness starts on the inside and flows out to bless us and others. Choosing to be grateful is empowering. We, too, can sing: "Because a thankful heart is a happy heart."