Q&A: How Can I Be a Happier Person?

If happiness eludes you, try practicing these six principles and watch your joy multiply...I received the following message on my “Love Your Husband” Facebook page this week:

I just came across your write up on how to ruin your marriage. I have to say that I am guilty on all counts. However I am not a happy woman and I don’t feel competent enough to be a career woman, a mother, and a wife. I would love to be a very happy person again, if and when you get this message please could you help me out with scriptures that will help me. I desperately need to be a better wife and mother. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

I wanted to respond quickly, so I searched for things I’d already written that might address this reader’s question. I’ve written one post on “Cultivating Contentment,” another on “Creating a Happy Home,” and yet another called “Don’t Let Anything Steal your Joy.”

They are all great articles that address different aspects of this topic, but when it comes to listing specific Scriptures that might help an unhappy person find her way out of the pit, I came up empty.

It’s not that such verses don’t exist — they do! It’s only that I’ve never taken time to create a list of them. Until now.

I know lots of people struggle with being happy, joyful, and content. If you are one of them, I pray these thoughts and verses will help you, as well:

  1. Happiness starts with God.
  2. I’m sure non-believers have happy moments, but I have never met anybody with a deep, abiding sense of joy who does not credit it to a strong, personal relationship with the Creator. God made us, He made our emotions, He gave us the capacity to feel happiness, and He has provided the means by which we can experience happiness, both here on earth and throughout eternity:

    • “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7, NLT)
    • “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)
    • “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.” (Psalm 35:9, NIV)
    • “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10, NLT)

  3. Happiness springs from gratitude.
  4. More often than not, unhappy people are ungrateful people, and vice versa. They focus on what they don’t have instead of being thankful for what they do have. You cannot feel truly grateful and completely miserable at the same time, so rather than enumerating your troubles, practice counting your blessings instead. Offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for each one. Buy a stack of cards and write notes of thanks to people who have helped you along the way. Say thank you in person to those who do kind things for you. Put to death any notions of entitlement and accept every new grace with unmitigated appreciation and delight.

    • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
    • “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 18-20, NIV)
    • “O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (Psalm 95:1-2, NASB)
    • “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5, NASB)

  5. Happiness sees the good.
  6. Focus on the positive. Look on the bright side. Search for the silver lining. As Martha Washington once observed, “The greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” Resolve to maintain a cheerful disposition in whatever circumstance you find yourself.

    • “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, KJV)
    • “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth).” (Ephesians 5:8-9, NASB)
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB)
    • “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NLT)

  7. Happiness says no to grudges.
  8. Nothing edges happiness out of a heart faster than bitterness. The two cannot co-exist. Whether for major offenses or minor irritations, be quick to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged you. Do not harbor grudges or give place to resentment — doing so will steal your joy.

    • “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25, NIV)
    • “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NASB)
    • “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14, NASB
    • “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NASB)

  9. Happiness serves others gladly.
  10. Deep, abiding joy does not focus on what others can do for me, but on what I can do for others. As a wife and mother, you have built-in others to think about. Ask God to help you tend to their needs with a glad and grateful heart. Recognize that relationships take work, and do it heartily, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver.

    • Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Colossians 3:23, NIV)
    • “…serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Galatians 5:13-14, NIV)
    • “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV)
    • Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” (Psalm 100:2, NASB)

  11. Happiness strives toward the goal.
  12. Keep an eternal perspective. Don’t let doubts or discouragements cloud your perception. Don’t let anything distract you from tending to the things that really matter most…

    • “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10, NASB)
    • “…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NASB)
    • Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NIV)
    • “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corintians 9:24-27, NASB)

What more happiness out of life? These are the principles you’ll need to practice to find it, along with Scriptures to back them up.

I consider myself an extremely happy person, and these are my secrets to maintaining a joyful outlook. If you can think of other ideas that might help, please share them in the comment section below.

Chores: A Fresh Perspective

Chores as Training

When making moment-by-moment decisions throughout the day, author Kim Brenneman suggests that we ask ourselves the following two questions:

  • “Is this activity glorifying God and serving Him?”
  • “Are my first priorities taken care of?”

She suggests that routinely thinking through these questions is a habit Christian women should deliberately foster, and I’m inclined to agree.

To be honest, though, it’s the second question that is most convicting for me. I’m fairly good at finding ways to glorify God and serve Him in the extra-curricular things I do. But tending first to those mundane, repetitive responsibilities such as laundry and cooking and cleaning? That is where I can really trip up if I’m not careful.

I can get so laser-focused whenever I’m working on a project—especially something creative, like writing, drawing, music, sewing, etc.—that I lose all track of time. If left to myself, I won’t stop to eat or sleep or shower until I finish whatever it is I’m working on.

I’m pretty sure that’s why God gave me twelve children and a husband who is quick to tell me when enough is enough -— to save me from myself. It’s hard to get too swept away in the creative process with so much flesh and blood anchoring me to reality.

For me, the solution (in addition to getting up extra early to tackle creative endeavors while the rest of my family sleeps) has been to recognize that the things I have to do are the training ground for the things I want to do.

This concept was beautifully illustrated in the 1984 classic, Karate Kid. In the movie, a bullied boy by the name of Daniel LaRusso seeks help from martial arts master, Mr. Miyagi, who puts him to work painting fences, waxing cars, and sanding floors, with very specific instructions on how the tasks should be done.

Daniel chafes at doing these chores and wonders when the karate training will commence, little suspecting that the chores are the training — or at least a substantial part of it.

Through all those long hours of sanding, painting, and waxing, he is unwittingly learning discipline, building muscle, developing endurance, and committing to memory the smooth, fluid body movements that will ultimately win him the martial arts championship (provided he sticks with the “training” and doesn’t quit in disgust).

That imagery does wonders for my perspective. Those mundane, repetitive chores like folding clothes and washing dishes and brushing tangles and sweeping floors? What if those are the tasks God is using to shape and strengthen and teach and refine and prepare me for the something bigger?

Will I chafe and grumble about His chosen methods, or will I tackle my tasks whole-heartedly, trusting that the Master knows exactly what He is doing?


Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most. Now available for pre-order!

Note: This post was adapted from my new book, Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most, now available for pre-order in both print and digital versions through Amazon. Reserve your copy before November 27 and receive some terrific free bonuses from the publisher.

Are You Saying Yes to Things that Really Matter?

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the release of the film version of OKLAHOMA by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I’ve uploaded a new music video to YouTube in honor of the occasion.

It’s a recording of “I Can’t Say No” (the way Ado Annie would have sung it were she a 2015 soccer mom instead of a 1907 pioneer girl).

Of course, I’m singing this song with my tongue slightly in cheek. As my children will attest, I actually can say NO and do so fairly often.

Whether consciously or not, we all say NO to a variety of things every day. The trick is not so much knowing how to say NO as knowing when and to what we should say it.

We need to make sure that we are answering all of life’s many opportunities and distractions in a way that accurately reflects our goals and priorities. The challenge is saying NO to things that don’t matter so we can say YES to the things that do.

For me, a lot of NOs have become second nature:

  • To be more productive, I say NO to watching television.
  • To prevent unwanted weight gain, I say NO to excess sugar.
  • To preserve family time in the evenings, I say NO to most of the extracurricular activities that would split us apart.

But even more importantly, I try to consistently say YES to the things that matter most to me and my family:

  • To nurture my children, I say YES to spending time with them, listening when they need to talk, homeschooling them, and heeding when my little ones say, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”
  • To nurture my faith, I say YES to Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance, and Scripture memorization.
  • To nurture my marriage, I say YES to communicating respect to my husband, praying with him daily, and sharing intimacy with unfailing regularity.

How are you doing in this important area? Your NOs and YESses may look different than mine. And that’s okay.

The important question is: Are you making choices that will carry you where you really want to go in life? Or are you stuck singing the “I Can’t Say No” refrain, exhausted from frantically trying to do it all — and weighed down by guilt because you can’t?

I’m Just a Mom Who Can’t Say No

It’s not so much a question of not knowin’ what to do;
It’s just that I’m so busy, I can’t think.
I’m barely treadin’ water, and my family’s drownin’, too.
But if I don’t keep paddlin’, I’ll sink.
My schedule’s overloaded to the max,
And I don’t have a moment to relax.

I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
I’m in a terrible fix.
I usually say, “Alright, we’ll go,”
Just when I oughta say “Nix.”
When a kid pitches a temper fit,
Some say his little bottom needs a smack,
But when my child throws a fit for me,
I sometimes sorta wanta throw one back!
My list of projects seems to grow
Faster than I can keep track.
I’m feelin’ ready to crack.
How will I ever turn back?
I can’t say no!

What you gonna do when your life gets so busy,
You start to feel dizzy?
What you gonna do?
S’pose your sense of balance gets a little off kilter
From running full tilter?
From having tons to do?
S’pose you want to mind all the things that matter most,
But you know you will be toast if you try?
Your life’s already swamped by so many other things —
Adding any more would make you cry!

I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
Something has gotta change quick,
Before I completely lose control —
The chaos is making me sick.
Though I know I can’t do everything,
Sometimes it’s really hard to pick and choose.
Now I’m wound up tighter than a spring —
You better duck for cover when I’m loose!
Lately, I sense an undertow,
Exhaustion has made me feel faint.
My husband has lodged a complaint:
It’s high time I show some restraint!
I must say no!


Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters MostIncidentally, If you watch the video, you’ll notice I have a new book coming out in December. It’s called Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most, and I’m so excited about it!

It’s taken me several years to finish it (primarily because when I “mind what matters most,” my writing inevitably gets pushed into the margins), but little by little, it’s taken shape — and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my heart on these matters and offer strategies for keeping a balanced perspective in every area of life.

I’ll be sharing more details about the book and its contents in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Maintaining Balance

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

7 Ways to Ruin Your MarriageEarlier this week, I spotted a clever post on Money Saving Mom called 5 Ways to Ruin Your Day — Guaranteed.

Of course, nobody sets out with that goal in mind, but as I read through her list, I realized that from time to time, I’ve been guilty of every single one of them (with the possible exception of #3).

And sure enough, when I think back to days I’ve devoted to such self-defeating activities, they don’t normally rank among my most productive or joyous.

I thought perhaps a similar tongue-in-cheek post about marriage might kindle some comparable sparks of recognition.

Nobody sets out with the goal of ruining their marriage in mind, but — unfortunately — that’s the position in which many couples find themselves.

Maybe if we could recognize the habits that are undermining our relationships early enough, we could change our ways before it’s too late.

So, in that spirit, I offer you…

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage — Guaranteed:


  1. Put yourself first.
  2. Always look out for #1. Make everything about you. Prioritize your needs and marginalize his. If you have children, put them ahead of Daddy, as well. Your husband is a big boy; he’s old enough to take care of himself.

  3. Dwell on his flaws.
  4. Focus all your attention on those things he does that most annoy you. Blind yourself to any good traits, and zero in on the bad ones. Who cares if he is a hard worker if he’s irresponsible with money? What does it matter that he’s a loving and devoted father if he’s also a complete slob?

  5. Assume the worst.
  6. Assign a malignant motive to anything he does that you don’t like. If he really loved you, he would know how much it bothers you and stop doing it. Convince yourself he’s acting that way on purpose, just to tick you off.

  7. Refuse to forgive.
  8. Whenever he forgets your anniversary or loses his temper or leaves his dirty socks on the floor, make sure he knows that he has seriously flubbed up. Glare at him with disapproval or, better yet, give him a cold shoulder. The longer you hold a grudge, the less likely he’ll be to make the same mistake in the future.

  9. Withhold respect.
  10. Don’t just give him respect — make him earn it. The harder he works to win your approval, the more he’ll appreciate it once he gets it. (Until then, feel free to disparage him as much as you like, both to his face and behind his back.)

  11. Turn him down.
  12. You don’t have to have sex to have a good marriage. The sooner your husband understands that, the better. Why make love when you can make excuses? If he’s in the mood and you aren’t, just tell him to go take a cold shower. Put him off enough, and he’ll eventually give up and stop bugging you about it.

  13. Cast blame.
  14. Don’t accept personal responsibility for any of the problems in your marriage — they are all your husband’s fault. Even your own poor attitudes can be pinned on him: If he were the kind of husband he ought to be, you wouldn’t react the way you do. If he’d get his act together, yours would quickly follow.

The good news is, you don’t have to do all these things at once to ruin your marriage. Just doing one or two of them habitually is usually enough to make most couples miserable.

Of course, if you’d rather nurture your marriage than destroy it, then simply do the opposite of this list: Place more importance on your husband’s needs than your own (Philippians 2:3-4), focus on the positive (Philippians 4:8), believe the best (1 Corinthians 13:7), forgive freely (Colossians 3:13), shower him with respect (Ephesians 5:33), don’t deny him physically (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), and own up to your own failings instead of pointing fingers (James 5:16).

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

The Choice is Yours

Love is not a feeling. It's a choice.Jane Austen once wrote, “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” But that doesn’t ring quite true.

Experience has proven time and again that chance has much less to do with happiness than do attitude and outlook. Austen might have more accurately written, “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of choice.”

Our success in marriage, as in life, is in large part determined by the choices — large and small — that we make day after day after day

So… what is it going to be? Will you:

 The choice is yours. You decide. 

Quotes - LL - Matter of Choice

Q&A: What If My Drive is Stronger than His?

What if my husband's sex drive is lower than mine? Q&A from Loving Life at Home....

QUESTION: “Your book [Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself] mainly deals with wives who are denying their husbands of sex. What if it’s the other way around and the husband has a lower drive than the wife?”

ANSWER: The Bible teaches that the husband has a responsibility to the wife in this area, just as surely as the wife has a responsibility to the husband. (See 1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Each is completely dependent upon the other, as we are given no other righteous alternative for experiencing sexual fulfillment other than with one’s own spouse (thus God’s command that neither is to deprive the other).

That’s why I think the frequency with which a couple has sex should really be determined by whichever spouse has the stronger drive. I suggest you discuss the matter with your husband and remind him of your complete dependence upon his active cooperation. You might also read this post, as it has other suggestions for a wife whose husband seems disinterested in sex.

Although it is more common for the man to have the stronger drive, I’ve heard from many, many wives for whom the roles are reversed. It is an agonizing place to be.

If something were to change and I found myself in that situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to discuss it with my husband. Depending on how that talk went, I would probably get a doctor and/or counselor involved, as well.

And since, in our case, a sudden disinterest in sex would be a huge departure from his thirty-year norm, once I ruled out any health concerns or other legitimate causes, I would likely be asking some tough questions about masturbation, pornography, and/or adultery.

A frank discussion about those topics might be in order, even if there hasn’t been an abrupt change in your husband’s interest in intimacy. Although there are definitely some physical things that will affect a man’s libido — low testosterone, depression, anxiety, fatigue, alcohol, drugs, and certain prescription meds, to name just a few — there is a big difference between a man with a low sex drive and a man with a high sex drive who is getting his needs met elsewhere.