Thomas Nelson published Max Lucado’s latest book, How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Expectations in the fall of 2019. Currently, Max serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, TX. For many, perhaps most people, life takes its toll on happiness. Certainly, everyone craves happiness and benefits from it. But, fewer people report finding it. That’s why Max stresses this theme throughout How Happiness Happens: happiness happens when you give it to others – not when you get it. Hence, God places a premium on encouragement. Encouragers come alongside and call out, summon, the best in others. Above all, people tend to become what you encourage them — not nag them — to be. Therefore, listen intently, giving your full attention. And praise abundantly with unbridled encouragement.
Consequently, Pastor Lucado counsels, avoid squandering the precious commodity of joy on a quibble. Because the hole in your happiness bucket precludes you from helping people smile. In addition, Max underscores, happiness is less an emotion and more a decision — a decision to bear with one another. Thus, the author advises you to reduce the number of peeves. Even more, show patience with the people who pet those peeves. Make it your goal to do good and not know that you did it. For you never know when a gesture of kindness touches a heart. Greet one another for your sake, for the sake of others, and for Jesus’ sake. In the process you demonstrate respect and mindfulness in regard to another person’s situation.
Also, the act of praying for others shifts the burden we carry for them to God’s shoulders. Furthermore, Pastor Lucado exhorts, don’t allow life’s difficulties to suck you under. Instead, give them to God before they get to you. And, intercessory prayer activates happiness like nothing else. Once we pray, Max notes, we can do much. Until we pray, however, we can do nothing. So, elevate your joy through giving joy to others. Happiness comes from accepting people rather than fixing them. Jesus, full of grace and truth, graciously shared truth and truthfully offered grace. As a result, the author stresses, there’s a time for admonishment. Since we often attach negative connotations to that term, Max offers his definition: admonishment = high-octane encouragement, truth spoken into a difficult situation.
Finally, like Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, God offered us grace before we knew we needed it. Thus, we give grace, not because our offender deserves it, but because God doused us in His grace. Choose to act with a tender heart and forgiving spirit. Through doing so you apply undeserved mercy to your undeserved hurts. That’s how happiness happens. Most significantly, though, you must receive the love of Christ before you can love others. Bring out the best in others instead of pointing out the rest. Max encourages us to be that ice cream truck coming down the street:
“Be the person that people are glad to see. Be the voice people want to hear. Drive the happiness truck. And see if your aren’t the one smiling the most.”