Hundreds of studies have been done regarding what makes happy people happy. But instead of reading them all, I just looked in the Bible and found what we need to know. Phew. From scripture (and most likely backed by countless studies), I can tell you with supreme confidence that the most underrated quality of happy people is… selflessness.
The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25 NLT
There’s no way around it. People who think less about themselves and more about others are simply more happy. The generous will prosper. There’s something inspiring in seeing someone sacrifice themselves on behalf of another. Yet there’s something so painful in doing that ourselves.
Selflessness is a rebellion against our natural instinct to do what best serves us. But it’s right. Our natural instincts are wrong, and God’s instincts are right. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
Are you convinced yet?
Is this just a nice theory, or will you work it into your life?
The most important person in the room
The Bible often describes the attitude of genuine selflessness by one word: serving.
Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
Luke 22:24-27 NLT
Jesus rhetorically asked: who matters more, the waiter or the dinner guest who is waited on? Everyone knew the answer: the dinner guest. But then Jesus put a spin on convention wisdom and declared that it’s different here. In God’s house, the most important person in the room is always the servant.
When you let go of your pride and decide you’re here to serve, your life takes on a whole new meaning.
Change what you value
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Philippians 2:5-7 NIV
Jesus walked on Earth as God incarnate. The possibilities and scope of his life were endless, beyond comparison to anything we could possibly conceive. With the whole world at his feet, Jesus chose the life, the heart, and the nature of a servant. That’s what he valued.
What do you value? There is a reason Jesus chose to be a servant, and it wasn’t to set a painstaking example for all generations to follow. Jesus simply knew that serving holds more value in life than any other pursuit.
How can you make a decision today to imitate Jesus’ heart to serve?
1. Pick someone to serve
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13″You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
The Bible is about as practical as we make it. Pick a few people who you believe God has put in your life to serve, and you will see your own life and happiness change firsthand.
2. Give up something selfish
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
We have 24 hours in a day. To take on a new bit of selflessness is to let go of another bit of selfishness. What sin do you need to let go of so you can love the people in your life?
3. Give it your all
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
I believe all humans are naturally artistic. Why? Because we all like to draw lines. Serving wholeheartedly means you won’t draw lines when it comes to how much of your life you are willing to use for others.