Learn to Be Happy in Any Situation
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV.
It's possible to learn how to be happy in any situation. We can truly know that it's possible, because many people have done it. And we can read their stories as inspiration. And to learn from.
In modern life, we're increasingly shown images of things that seem so amazing and appealing, and like they'd make us so happy. We have more material prosperity, by far, than any other society in the history of the world. Yet people seem to be less happy all the time. Suicide is the leading cause of death for several demographic groups. How can this be?
Yet, in Christian histories and biographies and autobiographies, we can learn of countless believers in Jesus Christ, who lived through abysmally bad physical conditions, but were happy.
How can this be?
The way to try to discover the secret of this is to learn about the lives of these people. Immerse yourself in them. Seek to discover their thoughts, their way of life, what they did and what they believed. Doing this has helped me to be happy and content with my life more than any other thing apart from belief in Jesus Christ, being a Christian, praying and reading the Bible.
What is it about these people that allow them to feel happy when most of us feel miserable under much less severe and distressing conditions?
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
One thing I've noticed is a focus on heaven. This (at least for me) really does help a lot with happiness. And also with a feeling of security (vs. fear and anxiety).
With my eyes fixed on the goal I push on to secure the prize of God's heavenward call in Christ Jesus
Lessons from Christian Martyrs
Richard Wurmbrand was tortured and jailed for 14 years in Romanian prisons under the Communist regime. He has written many books about his experiences, which show how well he coped under conditions that would break (and have broken) many others. And are worse than what most of us (especially in the well-off Western countries) are likely to ever experience. Reading his words gave me a huge insight into how one can learn to be happy without the physical comforts and other achievements usually regarded as essential for happiness by modern society.
As a soldier in peacetime prepares for the hardships of war, I had prepared myself for prison and torture. My text had been the lives of Christians who had faced similar ordeals and temptations to surrender, and I considered how I might adapt their experiences to my own.
Many who had neglected to do so were finally crushed by suffering, or deluded into betraying others.
The quote above is on page 14 of the PDF above (and page 15 by the book's own page numbering). This early version is published under it's original title of "Christ in the Communist Prisons", however the download link is found on the right hand third of the web page in the link, under the newer title of "In God's Underground". I also have a newer, printed-on-paper version of In God's Underground, and the quote is on page 22 of that edition.
Copy People Who Are Happy, On the Inside — Not People Whose Lifestyles Appear Happy, From the Outside
Take note, once again, that in the well-off modern Western countries we have massively greater material wealth, and benefits, and personal freedoms than any civilisation in history. Yet so many people are so unhappy (and stressed, and hurried, and anxious...) so much of the time.
And again, contrast that to the examples of people who lived though the absolute worst imaginable physical conditions, but yet were happy.
Consider the role models most people in the West are most exposed to. And often look up to and try to copy, or at least wish they (and their lives) were more like. These are very often famous people, celebrities perhaps, the rich and successful, movie stars, rock/pop stars, YouTube stars, and so on.
Yet when you look at the inner lives of many of these people, they are far from ideal. Many of them are addicted to drugs. Many (if not most) have broken families, and an even higher divorce rate than the average for modern Western countries (which is bad enough, even for average people). Many of them are so unhappy that they suicide. Or die early from drug overdoses, or some other entirely preventable (in a physical/medical sense) cause.
There are two massive reasons why these kinds of people are the most common role models for us.
One is that the things in their lives do appear like they'd be so great if you had that yourself. All that money, fame, success, admiration (including of the romantic/sexual kind), financial security, and so on, seem like they would be so great and be such a big improvement on an average life of a job and rent (or mortgage, etc.) and the other ordinary things of life.
The second reason is that they're shown to us so often. You have to deliberately try if you want to not be constantly exposed to information about them — from the mass media, the news, the internet, conversations of people you know, and most forms of modern entertainment (like movies and music so on).
So we hear about and see (images of) these kinds of people all the time. And what we see looks like it would be so great. So we end up being attracted to those things, and think that being more like that would improve our level of happiness.
Yet so often the opposite is true.
The solution — interestingly, I was typing fast, and when writing this line I accidentally typed "soulution", and then I thought there's enough meaning in that to not just correct the word, but to add this extra part of the sentence — the solution here is to look instead for role models in people who are happy on the inside, when the external circumstances of their lives seem like they should make someone very unhappy.
This (once again) is the complete opposite of looking for role models in people whose lives look like they would be happy, from the outside, but on the inside (where it counts) they are unhappy.
Because they don't appear everywhere we look (like the rich and famous do), and because their lives don't look like they would be in the least appealing (and often the complete opposite of appealing), you have to deliberately search for these kinds of people.