Can You Be Happy With Much to Do?
MOST of us lead very busy, often hectic, lives. Relentless pressures of modern-day living require that we put forth constant effort just to keep pace. Husbands and fathers must meet pressing obligations to their families, employers, and others. Wives and mothers must look after the household needs of their families and often have to work secularly. Young people also are under pressure to keep up with certain family obligations while acquiring an education that will prepare them for a productive role in society.
But what about those of us who have dedicated our lives to Jehovah God and are his baptized Witnesses? In addition to all the other demands made on us, we have this admonition of the apostle Paul: “My beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Yes, many added responsibilities are part of the requirements for true worship. How can we fulfill all these obligations and have peace of mind and a happy outlook?
Accomplishment Brings Happiness
Happiness—a feeling of well-being or contentment—is closely related to success in handling life’s responsibilities. If we are able to meet our daily obligations in a reasonably efficient manner, getting things done on time and in an orderly way, we have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. That is the way it should be, and the result contributes to our happiness.
Jehovah God never intended that our handling responsibilities should be an oppressive burden. Rather, it has always been his desire that we ‘rejoice and see good for all our hard work.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13) When we are happy in our work, we are usually productive. We readily take instruction and get along peaceably with others. On the other hand, if we are unhappy, our work tends to become drudgery—something monotonous, boring, even emotionally taxing. This leads to unproductive work habits and a negative frame of mind. Life becomes a daily struggle as we try to meet all the demands made on us. However, if we can find a way to remain happy in what we are doing, we are more likely to experience a rewarding and fulfilling way of life.
If we are to be happy even though we have much to do, we need to be balanced. And what is balance? It is “mental and emotional steadiness.” A balanced person strives to be orderly in his activities. He plans ahead, avoids procrastination, and is moderate in habits. He displays self-control in food, drink, recreation, hobbies, and entertainment. Actually, he demonstrates “self-control in all things”!—1 Corinthians 9:24-27; compare Titus 2:2.
Prayer plays a vital role in maintaining Christian balance. A servant of Jehovah can pray for God’s holy spirit and for his heavenly Father’s help in cultivating its fruitage, including self-control. (Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23) Especially should a Christian look to God in prayer when beset by trials that threaten to disturb his balance. “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act,” said the psalmist David. (Psalm 37:5) We may sometimes need to pray as David did when he pleaded: “O God, do act quickly for me. You are my help and the Provider of escape for me. O Jehovah, do not be too late.” (Psalm 70:5) Never forget that by prayer it is possible to maintain balance and to enjoy ‘the peace of God that excels all thought and guards our hearts and mental powers.’—Philippians 4:6, 7.
Because he depends on Jehovah and enjoys the peace of God, a balanced Christian is sound in mind. (Titus 2:11, 12) This comes from having a good comprehension of Bible principles and by applying them in his life. Such a person is not hypocritical, nor is he hasty in judgment. Reasonableness keeps him from being opinionated or obstinate. He maintains a modest view of himself and his capabilities, and this enables him to cooperate with others. (Micah 6:8) Interestingly, the traits that help a person to be balanced are also among the qualities required of those appointed to serve as overseers in the Christian congregation.—1 Timothy 3:2, 3.
We can add greatly to our happiness by striving to be more balanced in our daily activities. By displaying the qualities associated with good balance, we can get necessary things done without severe physical or emotional stress. Our life-style will reflect greater stability, and we will accomplish more. Others will find increased pleasure in our association, and we will experience greater contentment and joy. But what are some practical ways to maintain balance?
Practical Ways to Maintain Balance
In order to maintain balance, we should try to be prompt and organized in handling our personal affairs. We need to plan ahead, caring for matters in an orderly, systematic manner. Those lacking good organization and tending to procrastinate complicate their lives with increased levels of tension and anxiety. Success in this area of life will help us to feel that we are in control instead of feeling that we are helpless victims of circumstances.
We should not try to do everything ourselves. Those unwilling to accept help from others often pay a heavy price in exhaustion and frustration. There are various tasks that could be cared for by others. Therefore, it is wise to take advantage of the capabilities of those willing to lend a helping hand. Besides lightening our own load, this may be encouraging to those wishing to draw closer to us.
It is unwise to compare ourselves with those who may be able to do more. Trying to be like those apparently achieving more than we can is discouraging, making us feel inferior and unworthy. Such thinking is destructive, undermining our determination and self-confidence. “Let each one prove what his own work is,” wrote Paul, “and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.” (Galatians 6:4) Remember that the most valued worker is the one who follows instructions, is steady and reliable, and does work of sound quality. If we are that way, our services will be appreciated and in demand.—Proverbs 22:29.
We need to take good care of our health. It is one of our most valuable possessions, for without it we may be able to do very little. Hence, we should try to maintain a healthful diet by eating nutritious food. We ought to get the rest we need, going to bed at a reasonable hour at night. When we are severely fatigued or feel illness coming on, we should not keep on pushing ourselves; we may pay a heavy price.
It is important to guard against developing a complaining spirit. If we give free rein to negative thinking, we can find something wrong with almost anything or anyone. This is a sure way to rob ourselves and others of joy. Rather than gossip or complain about what we feel is not right, we should inform those responsible for handling the matter and leave it up to them to correct things. (Compare 1 Corinthians 1:10-12.) We are wise to maintain a positive outlook, always seeking and expecting to find good in others and in the events that shape our life.—Compare Jude 3, 4, 16.
In planning our activities, we should remember that a frantic pace may set records, but it can rarely be maintained for long. Continuous overexertion not only leads to exhaustion but can also bring on discouragement that can undermine our determination to carry on. Hence, let us set a pace we can maintain indefinitely. For instance, it is good to establish a practical schedule for regular participation in the house-to-house preaching work and other features of the Christian ministry. We need to allow time for relaxation and upbuilding recreation. And we will find it beneficial to talk with older people who have decades of experience, for they may have learned how to get necessary things done without exhausting themselves physically or emotionally.
Use Good Judgment
It is proper to feel an obligation and a desire to fulfill all our assigned responsibilities, including those within the congregation of Jehovah’s people. God is pleased with diligent, dependable workers. (Compare Matthew 25:21; Titus 2:11-14.) But the Scriptures urge: “Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability.” (Proverbs 3:21) The application of Biblical wisdom will benefit us, and we need to use common sense and good judgment, making careful plans and always keeping within the limits of our strength.
The admonition to have plenty to do in the Lord’s work must be balanced with the caution recommended at Ecclesiastes 9:4. There we read: “A live dog is better off than a dead lion.” Yes, a living dog, though despised by some, is better off than a dead lion, an animal many consider regal. If we exercise balance and take proper care of our health, we will live and can continue to do things. The dead have no further share in any activity. Good judgment can help us to find a reasonable balance that permits us to get necessary things accomplished without losing our joy.
So, then, having much to do does not mean that we cannot be happy. The busiest people can be among the happiest if they are reasonable, maintain a fine outlook, and use good judgment so as to keep well-balanced. We can experience the greatest happiness possible if we display wisdom, perform good works, and rest our hope on Jehovah God.—1 Timothy 6:17-19.