Happiness Isn't Always an Easy Choice

We all have heard or read the quote, "Happiness is a choice!" And while I have said it many many times, and do believe it to be true I also know that it's not always an easy choice.

I am fortunate that my personality type is pretty-much the optimistic-happy-type, so it comes easier to me than some I suspect, but still it's not always easy even for me. So I guess the question I want to address here is - How to choose happiness even when it's not easy to?

1) Make time in your life to do things that make you happy.

I teach a lot on being selfless and giving yourself away, helping others, etc etc. But there is a balance to that! You can't give what you don't have, so it is vitally important to give to yourself!

2) If there is something in your life that is ripping happiness from you, change it.

Obviously there is a balance to this as well. I mean kids can rip your happiness from you at times, I know this cause I have 2 of them, ha ha! So I am not saying so post them on craigslist ... no no no! I am talking about those things that we sometimes feel obligated to but don't have to do. But since we are people pleasers we do them. I suggest you stop. :) If it's a person, then maybe there should be a change, or at least a heart to heart conversation.

3) Resolve your inner issues.

In my 24 years of ministry I have seen people's past issues cause many problems in their life. It keeps them from happiness, and it doesn't need to.  Resolve the issues. And whatever you do learn to be a person who forgives and moves on! Don't allow junk from the past to dirty your future.

4) Find peace with God.

Of course I believe that true happiness is achieved through a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. But let's just be honest here, I know, I am sure you do as well, Christians who are extremely unhappy! So I am not naive enough to think that just "being a Christian" makes you a happy joe lucky person! And when I hear preachers who try and sell that message I cringe, because it's just not so. It's just like the message of being a Christian will make you healthy and wealthy. Nutty! To be wealthy you must apply principles of wealth to your finances, same for health ... apply the principles. (I will stop ranting!)

Final Thoughts

I am aware that life isn't fair. Some people in this life are dealt poor hands and it sucks! And for them happiness can seem allusive, but it's worth the pursuit! Blessings to you!

Marriage Works Best When ...

... you give yourself 100% to your partner! It's really the only way. If your first concern is what you are going to get from someone, it's just the wrong thing to build a relationship on. Now, yes what you get from a relationship matters, but I believe that it's more important to think about what you are going to give! And what you should give is ALL OF YOURSELF!

There are all sorts of marriages; unhappy ones, dysfunctional ones, miserable ones, nutty ones, crazy ones, sad ones, but the one you and I want to be in is a happy one! It's not even about 'How many years you've been together' it's about being happy and fulfilled with each passing year. I want to be glad I am married, and glad I am married to who I am married to, don't you?

The opposite of what I am saying here is: Selfishness! And "selfishness" will destroy your relationship quicker than you can say, "help!"And it's easy for all of us to go there. It takes me a nanosecond! But no one likes a selfish-butt-head! But often we are that guy or that girl

Let me close with this thought: If your marriage is struggling even a little then I want you, starting today, to begin giving yourself 100% to your partner. Serve them, love them, give to them, be kind and generous in every way possible. Do it for 30 days and see what happens. The first 10 days they are going to think you have started using Crack, but after the 10 days when there is no signs of drug use they will respond.

I love the song All of Me by John Legend says it all! 

All of Me 
by John Legend

Give me all of you 
Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts 
Risking it all, though it's hard 

'Cause all of me Loves all of you 
Love your curves and all your edges 
All your perfect imperfections 
Give your all to me I'll give my all to you 
You're my end and my beginning 
Even when I lose I'm winning 
'Cause I give you all of me 
And you give me all of you I give you all of me 
And you give me all of you, oh

What Makes Marriage Work

It seems that I hear of a marriage falling a part every day. It saddens me deeply, because it doesn't have to be this way ... you can make any marriage work. Now I realize that when trust has been violated, and hearts have been shattered, and vows have been broken it's tough. Really tough!

Why do I even care?

I care because I still believe in the institution of marriage, the sanctity of it. I love love! I am fascinated by love. It's powerful when two people can come together and commit to spend the rest of their lives with each other "till death do us part." And not to mention it is the best thing for kids for their parents to be together, of course not if the home is in utter shambles, but there isn't anything better for kids than to have both parents together forever AND happy. It's the way it should be. And when couple get divorced it wrecks havoc on the kids, and even extended family, friends, and society as a whole! Let's be honest, divorce sucks, big time!

Three Things That Make Marriage Work Well:

Disclaimer: What I am about to say is completely dependent on BOTH husband and wife participating! Both must be ALL in, 100%, 100%! One person can't make a marriage work, it takes two. So if you find yourself in a marriage where one is all in and the other is not, it's going to be difficult if not impossible for there to be any awesome stuff accomplished. Now, if you are the one pulling for the marriage I encourage you to pray like crazy! God will give you direction and wisdom. 

Also, no shame or judgment on those who have been divorced, or even those getting a divorce, poop happens! And it's a bummer. I am simply trying to help those who want help, or need a little punch in the arm to get them through a tough situation. 

First and most important ...

1) God

I'm not saying that in a trite arrogant stupid naive way! But when a couple is living a life for God, I mean really living a life after God then they will (should) want to be the Man (husband) or the Woman (wife) God wants them to be.

This means that a man who really loves God will do whatever he can to love and serve his wife and kids. He will be faithful to his wife and kids in every way. This doesn't mean he will do so perfectly and without stumbling along the way from time to time. But his heart is full-on devoted to his wife and kids. His family will be more important than his career, friends and hobbies. Because that is what a real man does!

Same goes for the woman, a woman who loves God will love, respect and serve her husband and kids! She will do whatever is needed to be the pillar of the home. Her husband will come before her friends, her career, or anything else. This is what a real woman does.

I believe God to be a critical facet in any relationship because IF you really really love God you will have a constant voice of *GOOD whispering in your ear encouraging you to love, to give, to cherish, to be faithful, to be strong, etc! It's that constant voice in your heart and mind to do what is right! Let's be honest here, we all need that! In much of society I feel a pull in the other direction! I feel society encouraging me to do whatever the heck I want to do! Basically encouraging me to only think of me, myself and mine. I believe "God" is a crucial aspect in having a happy, healthy long-lasting marriage.

*Hence the reason I encourage being a part of a church community! Not that going to church means you will never have marital issues, but you will have that constant voice of good in your ear, and a support group when and if you do ever face rough times. But I can say with complete certainty that your marriage will be better being a part of a church community than it would NOT being a part of a church community! I am absolutely certain of this.

2) Love Your Spouse

When you get married you give up only thinking of what you want. I don't think most people really get it. Marriage is a joy, a blessing, and full of freedom ... but its a freedom to be faithful, loving, self sacrificing.

When you get married you gain so much, but in gaining so much you do give up things to get what you gain. It's much like anything else in life, you give up some things to gain other things. You gain an income with a job, but you do give up some of your free time in order to work. And it's a fair trade. Same with marriage.

I've had people say to me, "well I deserve to be happy, and my spouse no longer makes me happy!" I laugh when I hear that because happiness is a choice, plain and simple. The sad part is that you are so weak in character and so deceived that you are "deciding" to love someone more than the person you are supposed to love most of all, your spouse. And it's all because you "feel" something. It's ridiculous.

When I have counseled couples recovering from an affair I often ask, "Can you see now that if you had invested all the time an energy in your marriage that you were investing in the 'other person' the grass would have been greener in your own yard rather than the neighbors yard?" 

3) Love Yourself

It is impossible to love someone else fully if you do not love yourself. Loving yourself is an important part of loving your spouse. And when I say, "Love Yourself" I am referring to so many things, i.e. loving your body, loving who you are, loving your life, loving your decisions, etc. etc. I have seen people sabotage their relationship all because they hate themselves. And when someone hates themselves that can not accept love from anyone else, and they definitely can't give love.

Shame is a relationship killer. Shame is different than guilt. Guilt is feeling bad for what you have done, shame is feeling bad about who you are. Guilt is, "I did bad and I feel guilty for it." Shame is, "I do bad, therefor I am bad."


Here is the good news about all three of these, God, Love Your Spouse, and Love Yourself ... YOU CAN DO IT! No one is without hope. Anyone can begin doing these things today, right now. Your Marriage can be turned around, YOU can turn it around! Seriously!  It's never too late, in my opinion.

Another Disclaimer: Obviously there are situations that are irreversible, and it's so broken that the only thing you can do is move onward, I get that. I encourage people in those situations to let go of the guilt over the past. Move on! It does no good to roll around in the past should've, could've, would've land! It's over, so what you must do now is make yourself ready for what lies ahead for you.

I am often asked by people who have been divorced, "Can people change?" I assume they are thinking, "maybe if I had stayed longer it could've worked?" It's a mystery really. I believe on one hand that people can change, but the real question is not can they, but will they. And if I am honest, most people can, but won't. They are stuck in the patterns they have grown to love and cherish and they feel safe functioning a certain way, even at the expense of those around them. Make sense?

If you or someone you now needs some Relationship Coaching, please contact my office to set up an appointment, I'd love to help you! (913) 390-1200, or email jana@mercychurchkc.com. Thank you!

3 Things to Help Make You Happy Today

If you are anything like the rest of the world, you seek happiness! I know I do! We live in a world with so many things that wants to strip us of the happiness we seek. I have found that in my own life there are just a handful, three to be exact, of things that if I do them regularly lead me to a much more happy life!

1) Doing the things I love doing!

For you it's _____________________________! For me it's creating beautiful things! I love all forms of art (cooking, painting, music, etc) and when I do them I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that leads to a feeling of happiness. What is it for you? Make time for them! If you are too busy to do them, then you are in fact too busy and should cut somethings from your busy life so you can do them.

2) Be with the people I love being with!

The opposite is also true here; don't be with the people you don't want to be with! Easier said then done, huh?! Well it's still true! Cutting bad people from your life is like removing a deadly tumor from your body, it's the start of health and healing.

Once you remove the bad people, fill those times with good people. People who inspire you, encourage you to be and do good! People who believe in you and your dreams.

3) Live the way I want and should live!

Now this could be misconstrued to mean something I do not mean it to mean. Okay, I say this with the assumption that you want to live a moral upstanding life like Jesus teaches us to live. So with that said, for me this translates in to so many areas of life.

    a. Be honest.
    b. Think good pure thoughts.
    c. Be kind.
    d. Eat healthy.
    e. Exercise
    f. Listen to positive and encouraging music.
   g. Etc.

Does this make sense? I hope so. In other words be true to yourself and to who God made you to be. I see it so much in my counselling practice, people depressed, full of anxiety, fear, turmoil, and the like ... and it all stems from a lesser-lived life. Doing what they know they shouldn't, lying, cheating, stealing, eating bad, skipping going to the gym, and so on. These things lead to an unhappy life every time! Without fail!

And one more for the road ... and this is for the super mature, those who are emotional giants, frankly, I think that could be you! 

4) Decide to be happy!

No matter your situation in life, decide to be happy IN IT! You don't have to be happy ABOUT IT, but rather happy IN IT! I know it can be extremely tough, but happiness is ultimately a choice we must all make. So why not do yourself a favor and chose it for yourself?! You'll be 'happy' you did!

Your Life Matters!