The Secret to a Happy Life… It’s Not What You Think!

 In Articles, Growth, Happy Life

After decades of marriage, raising a family, ministry, and business, I’ve learned a POWERFUL lesson… 

How to be HAPPY. 

You’re probably thinking, That’s crazy, Drenda! Everyone knows how to be happy!

Sure, I knew how to be happy when I got my way and life was going right… but what about when everything was going terribly WRONG?

What about when I was living in an old farmhouse that had plants growing through the windows, I was digging through couch cushions to find enough money to get the kids McDonald’s, and I found out bees had set up their home in the bedroom my sons shared?

Making the choice to rejoice wasn’t so easy on those days…

 I remember driving my children through the drive-through one day, and I was stressed, tired, and worried about different circumstances in Gary’s and my life. If you’ve ever gone through the drive-through with five little ones in your vehicle, you know the ordering process can be frustrating. I tried my best to order as each child loudly chimed in, in unison, with their order.

The McDonald’s worker handed me our food, and I pulled away. The smell of french fries filled the car, and my worries started to fade as I grew more excited to eat. I drove down the road and pulled over where we could enjoy our meal in the car. 

I handed each child a meal, but as I went to pull mine out, my hand reached the bottom of the bag. 

They forgot my food! 

Now I was stressed, tired, and HANGRY. Ha! I raised the cup of Sprite in my hand in a burst of anger; and as if on cue, the lid on the paper cup popped open, sending a small tidal wave of Sprite all over the car. My kids watched in silent awe, and I heard my oldest daughter, Amy, start to cry. 

I looked up at the Sprite-stained roof of our van with the soundtrack of my daughter softly crying in the back seat. I had totally blown it…

I learned how to make the choice to rejoice the hard way, but you don’t have to! 

“Be selective with your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right.”


I realized that I needed to change my mindset. It was time to shut down the pity party for one. I put a sign up in our bathroom that said, “Make the choice to rejoice.” Every time I started to feel bad for myself, I went into the bathroom and read that sign. 

Then I looked at myself in the mirror and gave myself a little pep talk. “Drenda, this isn’t your forever… You’re going to bigger and better places! You can do it! You were made for this!” 

I regained my joy and took back my day! 

The powerful lesson I learned was that my happiness was MY CHOICE. I could CHOOSE to have a good day—to be unaffected by screaming toddlers, a difficult person at work, or something somebody said that was intended to wound me. 

It was an incredible discovery: I was the master of my emotions.

My mom always used to tell me, “Nobody can steal your joy unless YOU give them permission.” 

She was absolutely right! 

Every single day, we have two choices: we can simply react to everything happening around us, or we can take action and create the lives we want to live. 

If we put our happiness in other people’s hands, we’re going to be disappointed. Not only that, but we’ll be on an emotional roller coaster.

Don’t give someone else the keys to your happiness! 

It’s incredibly freeing when we take back the responsibility for how we feel. When we react to others’ actions, it sets us up to be victims. When we maintain the fact that we own our emotions, we free ourselves to be victorious in all circumstances! 

Matthew 16:19 says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The keys are in your hands. What are you going to do with them?

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