The Secret of Happiness in 2015

lThe last day of the year sets the stage for the first day of a brand new year. It inclines us toward having a bright optimistic outlook to start over anew and afresh—regardless of how the past year had been, and regardless of certain disheartening discouragements and unpleasant disasters that may have occurred. As for me a most sad and tearful day was when I had to relinquish my dear aged cat to an animal shelter. It was so heartbreaking and painful for me because she had lived with my family for the last 13 years ever since 2001.

A key verse for a new year. A yearly practice I love from being in UBF for 34 years is to write and/or reflect on what has been called a “new year key verse testimony.” It should be a pleasant poetic poignant time to reflect on the past year with gratitude and a time of prayerful anticipation of what one hopes for in the coming year.

Happiness in 2015. (I am likely obsessed with happiness, having written two such articles in the past two years: A Happy UBF chapter and Happy, Healthy, Humble View of Self.) Two weeks ago, I reflected not just on the past year but on the last six years: West Loop UBF, 2008-2014. On this last day of 2014, my prayer and hope is that 2015 may be for you a year of love, joy, peace, mercy, grace and happiness on the basis of Psalm 1.

Seven practical applications. What is the secret of happiness? Psalm 1 suggests that our happiness is closely related to our life (Ps 1:1), our heart (Ps 1:2), our foundation (Ps 1:3), and observing the lives of others (Ps 1:4-6). But I also felt that one can easily become self-righteous, critical and condescending toward others who we might regard as “not blessed because of their sins.” Thus, to be happy, consider these personal practical applications:

1) Love those who are unhappy. Do not judge, criticize or condemn others for what you regard as their wickedness and sins.

2) Repent of self-righteousness and condescension toward others, just because you think that God has blessed you, your family and your church. Ultimately, it is not because of you.

3) Know the wickedness within yourself when you:

  • blame others, including God.
  • worry anxiously about your future rather than trusting God.
  • are jealous and envious of others, especially those who have what you want.
  • gossip and slander others behind their back.
  • speak, act and behave in a “holy Christian way,” while your heart may hypocritically not be as holy as what you project to others.
  • lie, are dishonest, and do not speak the truth.
  • do not love others the way God loves you.
  • are ruled by your ego that seeks value, validation and vindication from people and the church rather than from God.

4) Know that if you regard yourself as blessed, it is because of the mercy and grace of God, and not because of any righteousness of your own.

5) Know that to be happy you need to be blessed more than you need anything else in all of life.

6) Jesus is the only truly blessed and righteous person who ever lived out Psalm 1, not you!

Do you have a happy and hopeful new year key verse testimony to share? Do you find such a practice helpful or useful? Overrated? Formulaic? Whatever the case, may you be truly happy and blessed in 2015.


  1. Sorry to hear about your beloved cat, Ben. I find there isn’t really any principle that helps ease the void caused by death. That is why I think we humans need faith of some kind. Logic and reason only make sense in life. In death, only faith, hope and love remains.

    I would urge caution about the “one verse” approach. One of my principles is to avoid quoting one verse at a time or thinking too much about any one verse apart from all the other 31,000~ verses in the bible. I found it was far healthier to choose one “year book” of the bible. I did that the past three years, with Job, Galatians and Hebrews. It was a fantastic study of Scripture!

    For this year I am not prompted to do any year verse or year book. Instead, I am compelled to explore being an author and to connect with a larger community of believers. I plan to support and join the Reformation Project, and keep writing. I found that writing is a great source of happiness for me.

    Grace and peace, and happy new year everyone!

    Thanks for all the support. I gave away just under 100 free books during this end of year break. Check out my new book. Right now the ePub format is available. Paperback should be ready this weekend, followed by Kindle, Nook and iBook in the next 2 weeks.

  2. Darren Gruett

    “I find there isn’t really any principle that helps ease the void caused by death. That is why I think we humans need faith of some kind. Logic and reason only make sense in life. In death, only faith, hope and love remains.”

    Very well said indeed. Happy New Year!

  3. Yeah, embracing death as being a part of the very fabric of life is a point of emphasis that Richard Rohr and other mystics and contemplatives have repeatedly made.

    We humans suffer so much because we like life while despising death, not realizing that God the the Lord of all–which includes both life and death.

    I have been thinking that even the death and/or elements of death we experienced from our own selves, from our loved ones, and sadly even from the church, does in some mysterious way enrich our lives.

    Darkness and death, evil and hatred will continue to be around. I’m not saying condone it or not address it, but in a way to embrace them so that we can deal with them and even live with them (since they’re not going away, not even anytime soon), and not be overcome by darkness, death, evil and hatred ourselves.