Happiness is not a set of giddy feelings where you go through life high-as-a-kite and regularly assault people with your positive-thinking slogans and toothy-grin.
Those kind of people make my head ache.
Rather, it appears when you have a settled contentment about your lot in life and it is fuelled by the knowledge that you are the undeserving recipient of God's lavish grace.
There's a bloke in my staffroom who exhibits this quiet joy. He is a humble but deeply kind man who you never hear involved in grumbling or weighing in on the office gossip. His desk features photos of his current and past homeroom classes so that he can pray for his students each day. He is the sort of person I want to grow up to be like.
I was reminded of this the other day when we were discussing real estate. I asked my colleagues what they thought of a particular area in the neighbourhood which has a bit of a bad reputation for run-down houses and dodgy neighbours. There's a nice unit going in what looks like a nice street within that area. 'Was it really all that bad?' I wondered.
So this bloke spoke up. He's lived in that neighbourhood for years.
"We've live there for 30 years. It's perfectly fine. We've never had a single problem while we were living there."
I said, "You mean, apart from the time your house burnt to the ground and you lost everything you owned?" Because it did. About 10 years ago.
"Oh, yes. But we built in the same spot and it's really a very nice place."
Now, wasn't his reference for the quality of the neighbourhood I found interesting. It was that when he looked back on the last 30 years, he didn't bother to mention that big event when his house burnt to the ground and he and his wife and children lost ALL their possessions and had to start again. If I had been telling the story, in all likelihood I would have slipped that in. As an aside. As a mention. Because - hey - if my house burnt down, you'd be hearing about it.
But, he obviously doesn't keep his life accounts in that manner. His house burnt down. But he does not wear it around like a badge of suffering or honour. It was just something that happened.
Sometimes we can hang on to things and they become the marker of the stages of our life. We take up any opportunity to share that event/grievance/suffering even many years after the situation is gone and we've moved on. We stay bitter. Or if not bitter, then at least we drag it out for a show-and-tell when we can.
A person of contentment doesn't do that. And in doing so, I think, they open the window to joy.