According to a scholar in seasonal disorders at a British university you should feel happier than you have all year this Saturday. Cliff Arnall has analysed such factors as outdoor activities, nature, social interaction, childhood memories, temperature and holidays — data gathered over a period of 15 years in interviews with 3,000 people around the world. His conclusion: June 23 is the happiest day of the year. "People across borders experience happiness when they meet with friends and family and establish close social relationships," the University of Cardiff academic reported. "We need some close emotional ties." He used what he considers a "simple equation" to reach his conclusion — O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He. O stands for outdoor activities, N for nature, S for social interaction, Cpm for childhood summers and positive memories, T for temperature and He for holidays and looking forward to time off.
Because I have written a lot about civility I am trying to be kind about this formula. Would it be in indelicate and impolite to suggest that I also have a formula about trying to pinpoint the happiest day of the year? Mine would be something like this. P (H) = BE. P for predicting, H for happiness, BE for Bovine Excrement. I guess the grumpy old man factor came out there. I can understand how summer time, family, memories, and so on would lead to potential happiness. I also realize this is not hard science and a fun argument so please hold your cards and letters.
Arnall has also figured out the saddest day of the year. It was January 23.
Why I am a bit skeptical of circumstance based formulas for happiness? Because I am beginning to figure out that you can have joy even when circumstances wouldn’t necessarily reflect that emotion.
Joni and I are coming up on our happiest day of the year. That day will be this Monday, June 25th when she completes her sixteen months of treatment for breast cancer. It would have been easy during that difficult journey for most of our days to feel like January 23rd. But the amazing paradox of following Jesus is that you can find joy in trials. During this past year and a half we learned the truth of another formula.
J + P + (F x L) + T = Joy.
J is for Jesus, P is for Prayer, F is for friends, L is for laughter, and T is for trust. The formula works.
The Psalmist wrote these words.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
He has made both June 23 and January 23. He also has made today, June 21st. This routine day has the potential to be a happy day of for me and it can be if I choose to follow the instruction of Nehemiah to Ezra. You might remember these words from a Sunday School song.
For the joy of the LORD is your strength
Circumstances will too often rob you of joy. We cannot control or choose our circumstances. Paul wrote about being content is his letter to the church at Phillipi. I am so grateful for one phrase in his letter. I am thankful that Paul wrote “I have learned to be content.” If he had written “I am content” it would have taken on a different tone of spiritual superiority. Paul admitted that had to learn the secret of being content and finding joy. His formula was not complex.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I am learning to choose joy in the Lord each day. I am choosing to believe that I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Choose joy today. Why should June 23rd have all the happiness?
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com