Applying This Book Will Make You Happier Indeed
Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig
I have always battled discouragement and depression as a Christian since I was a young boy. As a pastor for close to 30 years I still battle discouragement and depression to varying degrees. Therefore, I am always on the look out for anything that can help me in the process of becoming happier and more joyful. Even when I find myself being happy and full of joy I’m often around people in my church and the world that are struggling with depression and discouragement. Therefore, I am glad that David Murray – a pastor-theologian has written and given this wonderful resource for me personally to increase my own happiness, and to help others pursue happiness in a gloomy and dreary land.
Murray tackles ten specific areas that can increase our happiness in the chapters that make up this book. In a nutshell here’s what he tells the reader to focus on: The first thing we need to do is change the way we think. Oftentimes we can’t change our circumstances, but we can change what and how we think about them. Murray says that 40% of our happiness (he gives research evidence to back up this statistic) depends on how we think about things. Murray states, “Our hopes of living positive lives depend largely on getting our thoughts about the facts right. Most unhappy people are unhappy not because of their situation but because they let their feelings rule their thoughts, or they think about things in the wrong way.” Murray goes on to explain how the Psalmist changed his mood in Psalm 77 by honing in on proper facts, leading to right thoughts, resulting in positive feelings. He delineates the steps we can take in this process for any feeling or thought we encounter. I found chapter One to be immensely helpful. He gives four fundamentals for getting our thinking right: (1) Prioritize the facts; (2) Gather the facts; (3) Interpret the facts; and (4) Use the facts. “Ninety percent of your long term happiness is predicted not by your external world , but the way your brain processes the world.
In subsequent chapters Murray shares how to control your exposure to the media (which is largely negative); how are salvation is based on what Jesus has done for us (not on what we can do for Him); How Christ – not other believers should be our focus; how to focus more on the future than on our past; how to see grace everywhere; how to become more of a praiser than a criticizer; how giving increase happiness more than getting; and how both work and being around racial diversity lead to tremendous fulfillment.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is chalk full of statistics, psychological studies, case studies, great quotes, illustrations, examples, and practical ways to be proactive in becoming a happier Christian. Murray defines Christian happiness as “a God-centered, God-glorifying, and God-given sense of God’s love that is produced by a right relationship to God in Christ and that produces loving service to God and others.” He demonstrates from Scripture and through a deep theological understanding that “Christianity doesn’t deny the difficult and painful reality of sin and suffering that runs through our lives, but with one vertical line from heaven to earth, with the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity promises to change the equation of our lives into a positive result.”
Murray’s book is wider, more theologically deep, and biblically accurate tun other books of this ilk – which tend to be shallow and thus unhelpful. Therefore, Murray has done a great service in writing a book that gives Christians foundational resources based on theological sound bedrock truths that can help one withstand the storms of life. I find myself at least 40% happier since I’ve read and applied some of the principles of this book. I believe that any Christian will be happier, and more useful in helping others be more like Jesus as a result of reading and applying the principles of this fantastic resource. Most importantly, God is glorified when we delight in Him and His creation – we were made to delight in the One who delights in us.