One Step to Happiness


The mid-February sun rose at 7:28 AM.

At the time, the wind speed just above 10 mph. Things changed. During the mid-afternoon wind speeds were over 25 mph. Whole trees were in motion. Birds were blown off their intended flight path.

As is common, the approach of sunset brought calming wind. The frenzy of the midday hours diminished. Trees were still in motion; the steady rumble of rushing air was not as sharp. A peace was slowly arriving with the coming sunset. A delicious quietness began to creep into our backyard. My instinct was to linger in it. The feeling of silence and tranquility was pleasant. A chickadee dashed from the feeder to the white limbs of an eastern birch. The seed it carried was soon shelled out and stored in its crop. A single crow perched on a top branch of an ash tree beyond. It was enjoying a calm view before dark. They both knew a human was watching them. They were content to watch me back worry free.

This entire scene can be summarized with one word: contentment. Contentment is a state of happiness or satisfaction. Wildlife often provides human beings with models of contentment. While my preference is to refrain from putting human feelings and behaviors on wildlife, both the chickadee and the crow appeared content. They appeared satisfied. They seemed to be relishing food and shelter in safety.

Contentment may be a human response to life, most of us are not content. Opposite of contentment is unhappiness and dissatisfaction. What causes us to be unhappy, dissatisfied? Discontentment. We live in a world filled with it. Our economy thrives on the discontentment of people. We need. We are encouraged to need. We are shown shiny things, newest technology, mouth-watering food, a larger home, a special vacation. We want these things. We become discontent…unhappy, dissatisfied with life.

There is another way.

God reveals it in the contentment modelled by a chickadee and a crow this evening. Paul, the apostle of Jesus, said it this way.…I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation…For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

How might we be happier, more satisfied?

Read the words of Philippians again. Be content with what you have. Be satisfied with little (almost nothing). What is the secret of contentment in every situation? The strength of Jesus Christ. He always shares. Contentment is free, just ask Him.

Turning from seeking the pleasures of the world to seeking the peace that Jesus offers has a gratifying result: contentment.