Happy People and Pain

Happy people have just as much pain as anyone else, in some cases more. It could even be argued that the happy feel pain more acutely than the unhappy, whose feelings are relatively numb. The real difference in happy people is that they’re not trapped by their pain. Rather than settling inside a happy soul, pain moves through it as through a channel, and that channel is joy. Joy keeps pain moving.

Happiness, rather than indicating an absence of pain, denotes a certain efficiency of processing life’s problems. Happy people don’t stay stuck for long; their lives are too rich for that. Greater happiness empowers them to take on more challenges, and moving through challenges makes them happier still.

Joy knows it’s on the winning side. That’s why it can rejoice even in the midst of suffering. If any of life’s horrors were permanent or unconquerable, joy would be impossible. Yet how easily we’re cowed into a defeatist attitude. It doesn’t take a major calamity to get us down; a petty annoyance will do nicely. A day, an entire week, indeed a lifetime, can be spoiled by a series of light and momentary troubles. While one believer praises God in the midst of terminal illness, another grumbles because of a runny nose. What’s the difference between these two lives? Attitude.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 41-42.

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