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Five Exercises for a Happy Heart

Five Exercises for a Happy Heart

One way to develop a healthy heart is to incorporate exercise into your life, such as walking, swimming, or lifting weights. And over time, your commitment to exercise will improve your overall health.

But if you want a happy heart, you’ll need an entirely different set of exercises. The Bible gives us five exercises we can get started on right now. And if we make them a regular part of our lives, they will help us live happier lives.

Here are five exercises you can begin working on today to cultivate a happy heart:

Remember God is with you, in you, and for you. 

No matter what you’re facing, you don’t need to do it alone. God is with you every step of the way, working within you—and for you. 

Paul reminds us of this truth in the following three verses:

  • “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). 
  • “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you . . . On that day you will realize that . . . you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18-20 NIV). 
  • “If God is for us, no one can defeat us” (Romans 8:31 NCV).

Pastor, if you want to be happy, you need to wake up every morning and thank God for being with you, in you, and for you today. It’s the greatest news ever.

Be grateful without grumbling.

Most of us love to fret and fight over the small stuff. It’s frankly a hard habit to break because our culture conditions us to do it. We excuse our own mistakes and accuse others of creating the problems in our lives. 

Paul writes in Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (NIV). It’s one of the hardest commands to obey in the Bible. 

What’s the Bible’s alternative to complaining? First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV). I get asked all the time, “What is God’s will for my life?” Step A is giving thanks. Once you do that, God will give you step B.

We can be thankful for everything in our lives because we know that God will work everything out for good, even though not everything is good. Imagine the difference it would make in your life if you grumbled less and thanked God more.

Keep your conscience clear.

One reason we lose our happiness is because we feel guilty or ashamed. You can’t feel guilty and happy at the same time. Paul writes, “You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights” (Philippians 2:15 TLB).

In this verse, Paul encourages us to live a life that is so clean and full of integrity that when people see us, they say, “You are a star!” It’s like a jeweler who puts a diamond on black velvet. Why? Diamonds always shine brighter on a black backdrop.

As the world gets darker, God calls us to shine brighter. 

That means we need to keep short accounts with God. He is faithful to wipe clean our conscience if we come to him and ask for forgiveness. At the beginning and end of every day, ask the Lord, “Is there anything between me and you?” Then practice spiritual breathing: Confess your sin and accept God’s forgiveness.

Memorize God’s Word.

If you’re acting depressed, it’s because you feel depressed. If you feel depressed, it’s because you’re thinking depressed thoughts. If you want to get rid of depression, you need to change your thinking.

That’s where Bible memorization comes in. The Bible tells us to “hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:16 NIV). That’s more than simply hearing God’s Word. You hold firmly to Scripture when you hear it, read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it.

The Psalmist writes, “I will take pleasure in your laws and remember your words” (Psalm 119:16 CEV). Happiness comes when we regularly remember God’s Word and put it into practice in our lives.

Use your life to serve others.

How do you serve God on earth? By serving other people. Jesus once told us, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). 

You’ll never find happiness from your salary. I know many wealthy people who are unhappy. You won’t find it in success or sex either. Happiness comes through service. God wired the universe so that you’re most happy when you give your life away. He wants us to become like him. 

Serving is one of the quickest ways to pull yourself out of depression. When you get your focus off of yourself and onto someone else, your joy goes up and your sorrow goes down. 

And there’s no better time to work on cultivating a happy heart than during the holiday season. These five exercises will help you navigate the stresses and losses from this year as you remember that God is with you, in you, and for you.

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