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The Secret of Living Happily in an Unhappy World

Two startlingly simple ideas to help you live a happy life.

By Norman Vincent Peale

Is there a way to live a happy life in an unhappy world? Absolutely! It’s a secret that’s been around for thousands of years, ever since Jesus announced, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

How do you develop this happy living? You do it by implementing two ideas that are startling in their simplicity.

1. Learn to love people, to have faith in people.
Do this and you will be happy. Above all else, get away from yourself. The most suffocating, sickening thing that can happen to a person is to become the victim of self-love or self-pity. Such a person judges everything on the basis of how it applies to himself.

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The Apostle Paul warns us against “selfish ambition and conceit” and goes on to admonish each of us to “look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

The more you practice self-love, the more discontent you will be with life. But if you give yourself to others in Christ-like love, if you are not cynical about them and believe in them no matter what they do, by some fundamental law of the universe you will be happy.

Jesus was the greatest intellectual who ever lived. He cut through all red tape by asking, “You want to be happy? Then love people and trust them.” He tells us in the Gospels: “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12) and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:22).

If you want to be happy in an unhappy world, quit hating people. Quit hating those who disagree with you politically or philosophically. Quit hating those who have hurt you or cheated you or betrayed you. Just skip it. Go around loving people. Believe in them. Where all other books fail, the Bible succeeds because it gives us the technique for happy living in an unhappy world. “In him was life: and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4). That is the answer. Love others as God loves you.

2. Let go of your worries and fears.
A great many people are filled with anxiety. They fret; they are discouraged; they are restless. “What’s going to happen?” they ask. They expect the worst. They are filled with fears, apprehensions, insecurity. Consequently, they are tense, discouraged, panicky.

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What does the Bible have to say about this? “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). And Jesus promises that if we submit to his lordship and wisdom, “you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Does this sound too simple? You will only find peace in Jesus, who is wise because He is so simple. It takes a greater intelligence to hold to simple truth than to struggle with involved problems.

Trusting in Christ is the only the way to live happily in an unhappy world; it is the way to make the world happy. It will solve problems that cannot be solved any other way.