How to be Happy
Rachel Olsen

“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

“Happy Thanksgiving!” people wish me repeatedly this week. Seems like everyone wishes for happiness. Everybody wants some. Many people pretend to have it …yet few seem to truly possess it. Why is happiness so hard to find?

Pssst … lean in closer… I will show you a path that leads to it … the fourth chapter of Philippians. Look up and read verses six through thirteen, or read them below in the Power Verses section.

Notice in verse six, Paul gives three clear instructions for finding lasting happiness and contentment. He says:

1) do not worry about anything

2) pray about everything

3) thank God for everything

What if today we took this instruction to heart and put it into practice? What if today we decided not to worry about anything? What if when we found ourselves worrying, we stopped and handed the situation over to God in prayer? What if we then thanked Him for taking care of the issue? In fact, what if we spent most of our mental free time today thinking about what good care our awesome God takes of us? What would happen then?

Paul says in verse seven, if we begin to live this way we will experience amazing peace – a kind of peace we can’t even imagine. Peace that makes no earthly sense! This kind of peace is so powerful that it has a protective function on our hearts and minds – which only makes it easier for us to stop worrying and be thankful. That sounds like a state of happiness to me!

In verse eight Paul elaborates on what to think about instead of our worries – whatever is good, true, honorable, pure, lovely, praise worthy, and right. Many things can fall into these categories, but Christ encompasses them all! This is not just “positive thinking,” this is “spiritual thinking.”

Further down in Philippians 4:10-13, Paul goes on to attest personally to the truth of this 3-step process as he writes from a Roman prison. From behind bars Paul says, “I’ve learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little … I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little" (Phil. 4:11-12). Did you catch that verb? Paul LEARNED how to be happy and content. It didn’t just happen once he reached his goals. In fact, he claims his ability to be happy had nothing at all to do with his circumstances, but rather his increased trust in Christ.

So happy contentedness is not something that comes once our waistlines have slimmed, our wrinkles are erased, our houses are organized, our children are successful, our bosses have thanked us, or our husbands dote on us. Instead it is learned as we become prayerful (verse 6) and thankful (verse 6), as we practice spiritual thinking (verse 8), and as we trust totally in Christ (verse 13) despite our circumstances.

I can’t think of a better day to start practicing Paul’s process of prayer, thankfulness, and “spiritual thinking” than today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Lord, I’m turning over all my fears and problems to You to handle today. I can’t fix a single thing by worrying about it - but you can fix anything because nothing is impossible for You! Thank You for my blessings, big and small. Thank You for Your loving care for me. Thank You for being in charge of my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Rachel’s blog

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:

Open your Bible and highlight Philippians 4:6-7. Memorize those two verses.


Does thankfulness characterize me?

Do I think about what is good, lovely, pure and right, or do I think about what is depressing, frustrating, unfair and wrong?

Power Verses:

Philippians 4:6-9, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (NLT)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a few days late reading your post, but the timing couldn't have been better. I was in the midst of a major pity party when God was kind enough to direct me to your How to Be Happy devotional. It was just what my heart needed to hear. The paragraph about happiness not being found in my husband, my physical apprearance, my kids, job etc. is so true. Thank you for reminding me where to find my happiness. Already just the mere of act of pouring out my heart to God, thanking him for his many blessings, and shifting my eyes off my perceived woes, has given me a sense of calm and of hope. Thank you for blessing me today with a much needed change of perspective.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Peace that makes no earthly sense"
WOW!! How true that is!!!

God is so good to me and my family but I still manage to worry about finances, teenage boys and their choices and so many other things. It is a constant struggle to pray and "hand it over" to the Lord. But when I am faithful to praying, the peace that follows does NOT make any earthly sense at all. He calms my heart and for that I am so thankful!! Thanks Rachel!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful devotion. I have dealt with depression for a number of years. I have realized over the past few years that's partly because I rely on the wrong things to make me happy. I am going to memorize the verses so that I can always remember where true happiness comes Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
God bless!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God has really been dealing with me in this particular area in my life it seems. I have been "happening upon" these verses a lot here lately. I have had my house on the market for over three months, I am driving 100 miles one way to work, my husband and I are experiencing money issues leaving a strain on our marriage and I feel I am neglecting my three girls. But, He still keeps my family and me safe, I have a relyable car to drive to work, we get by monitarily each week, and my girls seem to find new ways to make me feel loved each day. God is so good and I don't tell him that enough. I am too consumed with finding a way out of my mess whether it be through my own understanding or a thankless, begging prayer.Thank you for letting him speak to me through you today. God Bless you!

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