Read an Excerpt
Every Day a FridayHow to Be Happier 7 Days a Week
By Joel Osteen
FaithWordsCopyright © 2012 Joel Osteen
All right reserved.
Don’t Give Away Your Power
Make Every Day a Friday
John was ninety-two years old and blind, but he was just as sharp as could be when his wife, Eleanor, went to the Lord. He didn’t feel he should live alone, so John decided to move into a nice seniors’ home. On the morning of the move, he was up and fully dressed by 8:00 a.m. As always, the elderly gentleman looked impeccable, with his hair perfectly combed and his face neatly shaven.
A cab picked him up and took him to the seniors’ home. John arrived early, as was his habit, and waited more than an hour before a young aide, Miranda, came to show him to his new room. As John maneuvered his walker through the hallways, Miranda described his room in great detail. She said sunlight came in through a big window, and there was a comfortable couch, and a nice desk area.
Right in the middle of her description, John interrupted her and said, “I love it. I love it. I love it.”
Miranda laughed and said, “Sir, we’re not there yet. You haven’t seen it. Hold on just a minute, and I’ll show it to you.”
Happiness is a choice.
John said, “No, you don’t have to show it to me. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged. It depends on how my mind is arranged. Happiness is something you decide ahead of time.”
As wise old John understood, happiness is a choice. When you wake up in the morning you can choose what kind of day you want to have. You can choose to be in a good mood, or you can choose to be in a bad mood.
My purpose in writing this book is to help you arrange your mind so that you choose happiness each and every day. Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down, you can choose your response. How you live your life is totally up to you. It’s not dependent on your circumstances. It’s dependent on your choices. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are as happy as they’ve decided to be.”
Honest Abe would have enjoyed a recent study that found happiness increases 10 percent on Fridays. Why is that? People are excited about the coming weekend, so they decide to be happier. They make up their minds on Fridays to enjoy their lives more.
I challenge you to let every day be a Friday. Give yourself permission to be happy every day. Not just on the weekends. Not just when you have a special event. Not just when you’re on vacation.
If you have the right mind-set, you can be just as happy on Monday as you are on Friday. The Scripture doesn’t say, “Friday is the day the Lord has made.” It says, “This is the day the LORD has made” (Psalm 118:24 NKJV; emphasis added).
This means Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other day of the week. You can be happy even when it’s raining, when you have to work late, or when you have to do the dishes.
Why don’t you make up your mind to be happy every day? You’ve heard the saying “TGIF. Thank God it’s Friday.” For you and me it also should be, “TGIM. Thank God it’s Monday.”
“TGIW. Thank God it’s Wednesday.”
“TGIS. Thank God it’s Sunday.”
Another study said there are more heart attacks on Monday than on any other day. So many people just decide that Monday is a stressed-out day. They suffer the Monday morning blues.
When you wake up on Monday morning, don’t accept those negative thoughts that come knocking on your door, saying, It will be a hard day and a long week. Traffic will be bad. I have so much work to do. I just need to make it through the Monday morning blues. Don’t buy into those thoughts.
Instead, say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve already answered the door and almighty God, the Creator of the universe, has sent me a hand delivery of joy. I know this will be a great day!”
Decide that for you, there are no Monday morning blues. Instead, choose the Monday morning dos by saying, “I do have a smile. I do have joy. I do have God’s favor. I do have victory.”
Yes, I know some days are more difficult than others. But if you program your mind in a positive way, you won’t have to drag through certain days just hoping to get to Friday so you can finally enjoy life.
Faith is always in the present. Your attitude should be: I’m excited to be alive at this moment. I’m excited to be breathing today. I’m excited about my family, my health, and my opportunities. I have plenty of reasons to be happy right now.
Happiness Is Your Right
According to the authors of the Declaration of Independence, our Creator gave each of us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Even the British prime minister David Cameron recognized this recently when he proposed polling all residents each year to measure their GWB—General Well-Being.
“Well-being can’t be measured by money or traded in markets,” he said in an interview. “It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture, and, above all, the strength of our relationships.”
A researcher in Australia found that life goals and choices have as much or more impact on happiness than our body chemistry or genetic makeup. Another study found that half of our happiness is determined by factors other than biology. Ten percent is connected to “life circumstances” and the other 40 percent is dependent on our life decisions.
It is your choice to be happy. Make up your mind to enjoy this day, to have a blessed, prosperous, victorious year. You may have some setbacks and your circumstances may change, but don’t let that change your mind. Keep it set on happiness.
It’s not what happens to you or what you have or don’t have that is important; it’s how your mind is arranged and the choices you make. When our daughter, Alexandra, was just a little baby and I’d get her out of her crib in the morning, she’d be so excited to hear me coming, she’d start jumping up and down. She’d give me a great big, full-body hug with her arms and legs, then a big kiss.
Why was she so excited? She was just happy for the dawning of a new day. Alexandra was excited to be alive to have another day to enjoy. That’s the excitement God has placed inside every one of us. We should never forget how to celebrate each day. But so often as we get older, we let the challenges of life push us down and sadden our spirits.
We have to realize every day is a gift from God.
We have to realize every day is a gift from God. Once this day is gone, we can never retrieve it. If we make the mistake of being negative, discouraged, grumpy, or sour, we’ve wasted the day. Some people squander year after year, being unhappy because somebody is not treating them right, or because they are not getting their way, or because their plans are not working out as quickly as they would like. I’ve made up my mind to not waste any more days. I’m celebrating each as a gift from God.
Prepare for Victory
We prepare for victory or defeat at the very start of each day. When you get up in the morning, you have to set your mind in the right direction. You may feel discouraged. You may feel the blahs, thinking, I don’t want to go to work today. Or I don’t want to deal with these children. Or I’ve got so many problems.
If you make the mistake of dwelling on those thoughts, you are preparing to have a lousy day. You’re using your faith in the wrong direction. Turn it around and say, “This will be a great day. Something good will happen to me. God has favor in my future, and I’m expecting new opportunities, divine connections, and supernatural breakthroughs.”
When you take that approach, you prepare for victory, increase, and restoration. God says to the angels, “Did you hear that? They’re expecting My goodness. They’re expecting to prosper in spite of the economy. They’re expecting to get well in spite of the medical report. They’re expecting to accomplish their dreams even though they don’t have the resources right now.”
When you begin each day in faith, anticipating something good, God tells the angels to go to work and to arrange things in your favor. He gives you breaks, lines up the right people, and opens the right doors.
That’s what allows God to show up and do amazing things. Sometimes you will see major improvements in your life if you just make that minor adjustment. You would not only have more energy, you would also have a better attitude, and you would be more productive. You would see new doors open. You would meet new friends. You would get some of those breakthroughs you’ve been praying for if you would just get up in the morning and, instead of preparing for defeat, prepare for victory. Prepare for increase. Prepare for God’s favor.
You have to set the tone at the start of each day. If you leave your mind in neutral, the negative thoughts will start to come just by default.
Have you ever been lying in bed in the morning and out of nowhere you’re reminded of all the mistakes you made yesterday and all the problems in your future? That’s the enemy trying to set your mind for a negative, defeated, lousy day.
Don’t fall into that trap. The Scripture says, “Set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things)” (Colossians 3:2 AMP). Be proactive. Take the offensive. When you get up in the morning, say along with David, “This is another day the Lord has made. No matter how I feel, no matter what the economy looks like, no matter what the medical report says, I am choosing to rejoice. I choose to live this day happy.”
Do you know what you’re really saying when you take that approach? You are proclaiming: “I will not allow anyone to steal my joy today. I will not allow disappointments and setbacks to discourage me. I will not focus on my problems and my mistakes. I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this day.”
I have a friend being treated for cancer. He’s a young man, very talented, very athletic. If he had not told me, I would never have known anything was wrong in his life. I’ve never once heard him complain. He’s always friendly, upbeat, and enjoying life.
I asked him the other day how he could keep such a good attitude during such a difficult time. He said, “When I get up in the morning I ask myself, ‘Do you want to be depressed today, or do you want to live happy?’ and I choose to live happy.”
If you want to be happy, you have to be happy on purpose. When you wake up in the morning, you can’t just wait to see what kind of day you’ll have. You have to decide what kind of day you’ll have. The Scripture says in Psalm 30:5 that joy comes in the morning. When you wake up each morning, God sends you a special delivery of joy. When you get up in faith and make the declaration “This will be a good day,” you answer that knock at the door. You receive the gift of joy God sent to you!
The problem is, some people never answer the door. The knocking has not been answered for months and months, years and years: “Come on! Let me in! You can be happy! You can cheer up! You can enjoy your life!” I don’t know about you, but I’ve made up my mind to answer the door. I’m waking up every morning and saying, “Father, thank You for another beautiful day. I will be happy. I will enjoy this day. I will brighten somebody else’s life. I am choosing to receive Your gift of joy.”
You Have What You Need to Be Happy
We have what we need to be happy. We just don’t have the right perspective.
I’ve found that most of the time we have what we need to be happy. We just don’t have the right perspective. For instance, you may not be happy with the job you have right now. But if you lost that job and went months without any income, you probably would be very happy to win it back.
You see? You had what you needed to be happy. You just didn’t realize it. I know people who are perfectly healthy, but they’re never really happy. There’s always something bothering them. They want a bigger house or a better job. But if they were to lose their health and then regain it, I’m sure they would be thrilled. They have what they need to be happy.
I hear women complain and complain about their husbands and men complain and complain about their wives: “[He or she] is just too much of this” or “not enough of that.” But if their spouses were suddenly gone and they were lonely month after month; if they didn’t have anybody to talk to; if they had nobody to eat dinner with, they might be happy just to get back their “old goats,” I mean, their husbands or wives.
Keep your life in the right perspective. Every one of us has something even right now to be happy about: our health, our jobs, our families, or an opportunity.
I know this couple who were constantly complaining about their house. It was too small and too far out in the country. It was a source of frustration year after year. But when the economy went down, unfortunately, their income went down as well, and they came very close to losing that house. Just before the bank foreclosed on it, they were able to refinance so they could keep their home.
Do you know they now think that house is the greatest thing in the world? They show it off like it’s brand-new. What happened? They changed their perspective.
I hear people say, “Well, I’ve got to go to work today.”
No, the right attitude is to say, “I get to go to work today. I have a job. I have an opportunity. That’s reason enough for me to have a smile on my face.”
“Well, I’ve got to clean this house. It’s so much work.”
No, “I get to clean this house. I’m strong. I’m healthy. On top of that, I have a house. I’m not living under a bridge somewhere.”
“I’ve got to take care of these children. All I do is cook and clean and do the laundry.”
No, “I get to take care of these children. They’re a gift from God. They’re a special treasure.”
I’ve found there are very few things in life that we have to do. “I’ve got to pay my taxes.” No, really, you get to pay your taxes. The fact that you have taxes due means that you’ve made money. That tells me God blessed you with opportunity.
“Well, I’ve got to go to the grocery store today.”
No, that means you’re healthy enough to eat. “I get to go to the grocery store.”
“Well, I’ve got to drive in traffic.”
No, that means God has blessed you with a car. “I get to drive in traffic.”
“Well, I’ve got to buy my wife a Valentine’s Day gift.”
No, that means God has blessed you with a wife. You don’t have to buy her a gift. You get to buy her a gift. And if you don’t, you will be unhappy, because if Mama is not happy, nobody is happy!
Happiness Is Based on Your Perspective
I read about these two men who’d been bricklayers for more than thirty years. They were working on a huge skyscraper downtown. One man was always negative, discouraged, constantly complaining, and dreaded going to work. The other man was just the opposite. He was excited to show up each day and had an attitude of faith and enthusiasm about life.
One day a friend came by the jobsite and asked them separately what they were doing. The first said, “Aw, we’re just laying brick. We’ve been doing this for thirty years. It’s so boring. One brick on top of the other.”
Then the friend asked the second bricklayer. He just lit up. “Why, we’re building a magnificent skyscraper,” he said. “This structure will stand tall for generations to come. I’m just so excited that I could be a part of it.”
Each bricklayer’s happiness or lack of it was based on his perspective. You can be laying brick or you can be building a beautiful skyscraper. The choice is up to you. You can go to work each day and just punch in on the clock and dread being there and do as little as possible. Or you can show up with enthusiasm and give it your best, knowing that you’re making the world a better place.
I’ve found we create much of our own unhappiness. We see what’s wrong rather than what’s right. We look at what we don’t have rather than what we do have. We don’t celebrate each day and appreciate the gift that God has given us.
Years ago, a man traveling by train met a very successful couple. The lady was wearing expensive clothing and jewelry. This couple was obviously well-to-do. The traveler shared their first-class cabin, which was very comfortable. But from the start the lady did nothing but complain. She complained that the temperature wasn’t right, complained that there wasn’t enough light, complained that the food wasn’t good, and complained that her seat was dirty. She made everyone miserable.
During the journey, the traveler struck up a conversation with her husband. He asked what kind of business he was in. He said he had been in the car industry and God had blessed him in a great way. But he added; “Now my wife, she’s in the manufacturing business.”
The traveler thought, That’s kind of odd. I mean, she’s so dignified and dressed so properly. That just doesn’t seem like it fits.
He asked very curiously, “What does she manufacture?”
“She manufactures unhappiness,” the husband said. “She’s unhappy everywhere she goes.”
You may need to change businesses, not physically but mentally. Get out of the business of manufacturing unhappiness. Quit dwelling on what’s wrong. Quit seeing the faults and start seeing the good. Start being grateful for what you have. Appreciate the gift of today.
Keep a Song in Your Heart
As I walked out of the house early one recent morning, I heard all these birds singing and singing so loud and so cheerful. Little birds were chirping and chirping. Big birds were making a melody. It was like they were having a big party. I wanted to say to them, “Hey, birds. Have you read the newspapers lately? Did you see the stock market last year? You’re not supposed to be singing, enjoying life. What’s wrong with you? You’re acting like everything will be all right.”
What was it with those birds? They know a secret. They know their heavenly Father is in control. They know God has promised to take care of them, so they go through the day singing and enjoying life, regardless of the circumstances.
Get up in the morning and have a song of praise in your heart.
That’s how to start off each day. Get up in the morning and have a song of praise in your heart. Put a smile on your face. Go out into the day and be determined to enjoy it. The apostle Paul wrote: “Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always)” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 AMP).
How long are we supposed to be glad-hearted? How long are we supposed to have a smile on our faces? As long as people treat us right? As long as we feel okay? As long as the economy is up? No, the Scripture says, “Be glad-hearted continually (always).” That means in the good times and in the tough times, when it’s sunny and when it’s raining.
When dark clouds are over your head and you feel like life is depressing and gloomy, always remember that right above those dark clouds the sun is shining. You may not be able to see the sun in your life right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not up there. It’s just blocked by the dark clouds. The good news is, the clouds are temporary. The clouds will not last forever. The sun will shine in your life once again.
In the meantime, keep your joy. Be glad-hearted continually. Don’t let a few clouds darken your life. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. That means we all face disappointments, unfair situations, tests, trials, and temptation. But know this: Right past the test is promotion. On the other side of every difficulty is increase. If you go through adversity with a smile on your face and a song in your heart, on the other side there will be a reward.
But so often in the tough times we become discouraged. “I’m down today because business is slow.” “I’m upset because I got a bad medical report.” Or, “I’m worried about this legal situation.”
Human nature tends to turn negative in difficult times. But the Scripture tells us to do just the opposite: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2 NKJV). That doesn’t seem to make sense to some people. “You mean we’re supposed to be joyful and glad-hearted in the middle of tough times?” they ask. Yes, that’s right, because when you lose your joy, you lose your strength.
You need your strength more than ever in the difficult times, and your strength is dependent on your joy. When you’re facing a financial crisis, dealing with an illness, going through a breakup in a relationship, or raising a rebellious child, you need your strength. If you go through those challenges feeling negative, bitter, and discouraged, you will not have the vitality to stand strong and fight the good fight of faith.
You can keep your joy by knowing that on the other side of each test is promotion. On the other side of every setback is opportunity. On the other side of every offense is growth. The difficulties you face are not there to defeat you. They are there to increase you.
Just keep reminding yourself, Even though this is hard, even though I don’t understand it, even though it’s not fair, I’ll keep a good attitude and stay full of joy, knowing that this is not setting me back. It is setting me up for God to bring me through to the other side of this in an even better position.
The Key to Handling Adversity
If you complain, you will remain. You’ll stay right there. If you become negative and soured on life, you won’t pass the test. There was promotion available. There was opportunity for new growth, but because you didn’t count it all joy, you missed out. The good news is this: God will give you another opportunity. He can still take you where you need to be. For instance, when someone offends you, your attitude should be, I won’t be upset. I’ll count it all joy. I know this is simply a test, and on the other side of this challenge I’ll be promoted.
When business is slow, instead of griping, count it all joy. Tell yourself, This, too, shall pass. I know God is supplying all of my needs. Or when you face a disappointment, your negative emotions will tell you to be down and discouraged. You’ll feel self-pity trying to set in. But instead of submitting to those negative emotions, encourage yourself: Get up. Be strong. There are good days up ahead.
That’s how you pass the test. That’s how you count it all joy.
In the tough times, don’t be surprised if you feel that spirit of heaviness trying to overtake you. Don’t be surprised if you hear those thoughts telling you, It will never work out. You’ll never get well. It’s over. It’s done. Don’t believe those lies. You don’t have to be guided by your emotions. They’re not in charge. You’re in charge. Instead of letting your negative emotions talk to you, talk to yourself.
When you wake up in the morning and that negative thought comes to your mind saying, It’s a lousy day, don’t just agree and say, “Yeah. It’s a lousy day, I feel terrible.” Instead, turn it around and talk to yourself. Make a declaration of faith out loud: “This will be a great day. I will get well. God will restore health to me.”
Put Your Hope Back in the Lord
This is what King David did. He put his hope in the Lord. That spirit of heaviness tried to steal his destiny. He became depressed and very discouraged during those dark times. But David said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?… Hope in God” (Psalm 43:5 NKJV).
He was asking himself, David, what’s wrong with you? Why are you discouraged? Why have you lost your joy? God is still on the throne. God still has good things in store. Put your hope back in the Lord.
When that heaviness tries to come on you, do the same thing. Look in the mirror and say, “Listen here, self. Cheer up. Put on a new attitude. We’re not staying down. We’re not staying defeated. We’re putting our hope in the Lord.”
There is so much doom and gloom in our world, so many negative news reports. If you are not careful, you’ll find it sinking in. The spirit of heaviness will overcome you, stealing your enthusiasm and draining your joy.
“Oh, but it’s just so bad,” you might say.
The Scripture tells us what to do when this happens: Put on “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV). When you feel that heaviness is trying to overtake you by telling you, “There’s nothing good in your future. You’ve seen your best days,” the first thing to do is take off the old coat of heaviness. Throw away the coat of self-pity. Get rid of the coat of discouragement and put on a new coat of praise.
You cannot give God thanks and stay down and discouraged.
Thank God for what He’s already done in your life. Thank Him for the victories in your past. Thank Him for how far He’s already brought you. And then take it one step further. Thank Him in advance for the victories He has planned ahead for you. Thank Him for the new doors He’s opening. Thank Him for the situations He’s turning around. Thank Him for the favor He has in your future.
If you do that, you will feel a new joy rising up on the inside. You will feel your faith increase. You won’t have that victim mentality; you will have a victor mentality. One thing I’ve learned is you cannot praise and stay defeated at the same time. You cannot give God thanks and stay down and discouraged.
Put on the Garment of Praise
When you put on the garment of praise, that spirit of heaviness has to go. Sometimes you won’t feel like doing it. You won’t feel like having a good attitude. You won’t feel like being grateful. That’s why God says to offer up the sacrifice of praise. God knew it would not always be easy. You will have to dig your heels in and say, “God, I don’t feel like doing this. It doesn’t look like it will ever work out. I’m tired, lonely, discouraged. But God, I know You’re still on the throne. I know You are good and You are good all the time, so I choose to give You praise. I choose to give You thanks anyway.”
When you offer up that sacrifice of praise, supernatural things begin to happen. Scripture tells us the story of the apostle Paul and his companion Silas. They were imprisoned for sharing their faith. They had been unjustly beaten earlier in the day. What were they doing at midnight in their jail cell? Complaining? Having a pity party? Saying, “God, it’s not fair. Where were You today?”
No, they were singing praises and giving thanks to God. They were saying, in effect, “God, we know You’re bigger than our problems. We know You’re still in control. You are well able to get us out of here.” Sure enough, at midnight there was a great earthquake. The prison doors flew open. The chains fell off, and Paul and Silas walked out as free men.
What started it? Their offering up the sacrifice of praise.
Really, anyone can have a good attitude when everything is going well. We can all celebrate and be grateful when we’re on the mountaintop, but where are the people who give God praise even as the bottom falls out? Where are the people who rise up each morning and prepare for victory and increase in spite of all the news reports predicting doom and gloom? Where are the people who say, “God, I still praise You even though the medical report wasn’t good” or “God, I still thank You even though it didn’t turn out my way”?
I believe you are one of those people. I believe you are of great faith. Your roots go down deep. You could be complaining. You could be discouraged. You could have a chip on your shoulder, but instead you just keep giving God praise. You’ve got that smile on your face. You’re doing the right thing even though the wrong thing is happening.
That’s why I can tell you with confidence that you are coming into greater victories. Enlarge your vision. Take the limits off God. You have not seen your best days. God has victories in your future that will amaze you. He will show up and show out in unusual ways. You may be in a tough time right now, but remember this: The enemy always fights you the hardest when he knows God has something great in store for you.
You are closest to your victory when it is the darkest. That is the enemy’s final stand. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t start complaining. Just keep offering up that sacrifice of praise.
The Voice of Gladness
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote, “[There shall be heard again] the voice of joy and the voice of gladness,… the voices of those who sing as they bring sacrifices of thanksgiving into the house of the Lord…. [God] will cause the captivity of the land to be reversed and return to be as it was at first” (Jeremiah 33:11 AMP). I particularly love two words in that verse; reversed and return. God is saying when you stay full of joy, when you learn to offer up the sacrifice of praise, God will turn things in your favor. He will reverse negative situations. He will return, or restore, what’s been stolen.
But notice that restoration doesn’t come from complaining, being negative, or being sour. Restoration takes place when you have the voice of gladness, the voice of joy. That means you get up in the morning with a song in your heart. You go out each day with a smile on your face. Things may not always go your way, but you don’t become discouraged. You shake it off and count it all joy.
When you live that way, you might as well get ready. God will be reversing and restoring. He will reverse finances that have been down. He will reverse a struggling business. He will reverse a legal situation in your favor. He will reverse a health issue to heal you.
Not only that, God will restore what should have been yours. He will restore the years you lost because somebody did you wrong. He will restore a relationship that’s on the rocks. Restoration will occur because you have the voice of joy, the voice of gladness, and you keep offering up that sacrifice of praise.
Learn to count it all joy. Don’t be determined to never have problems. Be determined to stay full of joy in the midst of your problems. Arrange your mind in the right direction.
And no matter what comes your way, don’t lose your joy. Learn to offer up that sacrifice of praise. If you keep the voice of gladness, the voice of joy, you cannot stay down and defeated. God has promised He will reverse and restore. Not only that, but because you have joy, you will find the strength to outlast every attack, to overcome every obstacle, to defeat every enemy. You will become everything God created you to be, and you will have everything God intended for you to have.
Don’t Give Away Your Power
We can’t control all our circumstances, but we can control our reactions.
Every day we have plenty of opportunities to be upset, to be frustrated, and to be offended. Maybe the day’s plans didn’t work out, or somebody was rude at the office, or a job that should have taken one hour took three. Life is full of inconveniences. There will always be interruptions and difficult people. We can’t control all our circumstances, but we can control our reactions.
I’ve heard it said that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond. Go into each day positive, hopeful, and expecting God’s favor. But at the same time be realistic, knowing that most days will not go exactly as you planned. If you become stressed because you are off schedule, frustrated because someone offended you, or upset because your child wouldn’t eat breakfast, you are giving away your power.
It’s good to have plans, but at the first part of every day submit those plans to God and just say, “God, this is what I would like to accomplish today. But I know You’re in control, so I submit my plans to You. And I’ve decided in advance that no matter what comes my way, I will stay in peace, knowing You are directing my steps and that all things will work together for my good.”
But too many people these days have the wrong approach to life. They think they can’t be happy unless they control all their circumstances and everything goes their way. But that’s not realistic. You have to come to the place where you can say, “I don’t have to have my way to have a good day. My plans don’t have to work out for me to be happy. Everybody doesn’t have to treat me right for life to be enjoyable. I have already made up my mind: No matter what does or doesn’t happen, I will stay in peace and enjoy this day.”
The Scripture says that “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22 NIV). No circumstance can take your peace. No interruption can take your enthusiasm. You have to give it away. The next time you’re tempted to be upset and frustrated, ask yourself, Is this worth giving my power away?
Or, This man is rude to me on the phone. I don’t even know him. Is it worth giving him my joy?
Or, This co-worker left me out of a meeting; is it worth giving away my peace?
You may not have the victory, not because you can’t, but because you keep giving it away. Life is too short to be upset and offended. If you allow your circumstances to control your joy, there will always be some reason to be discouraged.
“It’s the economy.”
“It’s the stock market. That’s why I’m so down.”
Quit giving away your power. God is still on the throne. The economy in heaven is doing just fine. As long as you’re connected to Him, everything will be all right.
“Well,” you say, “I had to cancel my vacation this year.”
Or, “My boss sure is hard to get along with.”
“This neighbor, he really gets on my nerves. I’ve been praying and asking God to change him.”
One thing I’ve learned is to never pray for God to change somebody else without first saying, “God, change me.”
Even if that offensive neighbor were to move away, if you don’t learn this principle—to never allow others to steal your joy—two more just like him will move back in.
You Have to Be the Change You Seek
Jesus put it this way: “Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed” (John 14:27 AMP).
Notice it’s a choice we have to make. He didn’t say, “I will make sure your circumstances are perfect. That way you can be happy.”
He said, in effect, “The things upsetting you right now don’t have to upset you. The people aggravating you, even if they don’t change, they don’t have to aggravate you.” If you’ll make adjustments and change your approach to life, you can be happy in spite of those circumstances.
I’m asking you today to stop allowing negative people and disappointments and inconveniences to steal your joy. You have to put your foot down and say, “This child gets on my nerves—I love him—but I will rise above it. I won’t let this control me.” Or, “This grumpy boss jumps down my throat for no reason, but I’m not letting him ruin any more of my days.” That’s what it means to not give away your power. You have to be determined to enjoy your life.
A woman once told me about her husband’s very obnoxious relative who repeatedly made cutting and demeaning remarks to her. Every time they were at family get-togethers, invariably, this man would say something that offended her. She would become upset and it would ruin the whole trip. She reached a point where she didn’t want to even go to her husband’s family events. Finally, she told her husband, “You’ve got to do something about that man. He’s your relative.”
She was expecting the husband to say, “You’re right, honey. He shouldn’t talk to you like that. I’ll go in there and set him straight.” But the husband did just the opposite. He said, “Honey, I love you, but I cannot control him. He has every right to his opinion. He can say what he wants to, but you have every right to not be offended.”
At first she couldn’t understand why her husband wouldn’t really stick up for her. Time and time again she would feel upset. If her husband’s relative was in one room, she would go to another room. If the man was outside, she would make sure she stayed inside. Her whole focus was avoiding this man. Eventually, she grew weary of allowing him to have such an impact on her life. One day it was like a light turned on. She realized that no one took this man seriously and that she was giving away her power. She was allowing one person who had issues of his own to keep her from becoming the woman she was meant to be.
When you allow what someone says or does to upset you, you’re allowing that person to control you.
When you allow what someone says or does to upset you, you’re allowing that person to control you. When you say, “You make me so mad,” what you’re really doing is admitting that you’re giving away your power. As long as the person knows they can push this button and you’ll respond this way, and they can make that remark and you’ll get upset, and they know if they go outside you’ll go inside—as long as you keep responding the same way—you are giving them exactly what they want.
People have a right to say what they want, to do what they want, as long as it’s legal. And we have a right to not be offended. We have a right to overlook it. But when we become upset and angry, we change. If somebody walks into a room and we grow tense, it’s because we’re putting too much importance on what that person thinks about us.
What a person says about you does not define who you are. His or her opinion of you does not determine your self-worth. Let that bounce off you like water off a duck’s back. This person has every right to have an opinion, and you have every right to ignore it.
I’ve found that some people feel it’s their calling in life to point out what others are doing wrong and where others are missing it. They’re constantly critical, always finding fault. There is nothing they love more than keeping someone upset, and arguing, and always on the defensive.
Rise above that. You don’t need them to agree with you. You don’t have to win their approval. Let that go, and just be who God made you to be.
Even the great leader Moses had to deal with relatives who didn’t like the woman he’d chosen to marry because she was of a different nationality. They criticized Moses publicly, saying, “We don’t agree with this. We refuse to approve of this marriage.”
But deep down, Moses knew he was making the right decision. He didn’t argue with them. He didn’t become upset. He didn’t criticize them. He just kept his peace. As it turned out, the person who was the most vocal critic of the bride contracted leprosy and was soon no longer around.
You don’t have to respond to every critic. You don’t have to prove yourself to them. Just stay on the high road and let God fight your battles for you. Some who will cross your path simply don’t want peace with you. No matter what you say or do, they will not be won over. Even if you were to change, they would still find some reason to be critical. You have to accept the fact that no matter what you do, some people will never be at peace with you.
I had a real nice sports car when I first dated my wife, Victoria. I was in my early twenties and wanted to impress her, so I kept that car spotless. There wasn’t a scratch on it. Then I was driving home from Victoria’s house late one night and I had an accident. I was proceeding through an intersection. The light was green. Another car going the same direction turned right from the wrong lane and hit the back of my sports car, spinning it around.
After taking a few moments to calm down, I stepped out of my car. I knew the accident wasn’t my fault. And I’m naturally easygoing. There is not much that upsets me. I checked my spotless car. The back end was totally destroyed.
About that time the other driver climbed out of his car. It was very dark, but I could see he was probably in his fifties. He started ranting, raving, and cursing, and then he said, “Kid, learn how to drive. I am so mad at you.”
I thought to myself, I’m the one who should be upset. He just turned from the wrong lane. He was about thirty yards away. I could see he was working up his anger. Then he started running toward me like he wanted to fight.
My first thought was, Do you want some of this?
You know that’s not true. My real first thought was, How big is he?
When he came within fifteen yards, I saw he was twice my size. Right then and there I had a revelation: This was not a battle worth fighting.
I went around to the other side of my car.
You say, “Joel, you mean you were a chicken?”
No, I just wanted to live!
He fit into that category of people who will never be at peace with me.
When Jesus sent His disciples out into certain homes, He told them to speak peace over each person in each house. And He said, in effect, “If they don’t receive it, then the peace you’re offering them will come back to you” (see Luke 10:5–6).
That tells me if you do your best to be at peace with people—even if they won’t take your peace—the good news is that peace will just come back to you anyway. You’ll not only enjoy your peace, but you’ll be given their share as well. When you do the right thing when the wrong thing is happening, God sees it and He rewards it.
Two friends walked into a corner store to buy a newspaper and the store clerk treated them rudely. One of the friends, after paying, smiled at the clerk with a grin and said: “I hope you have a great day today.”
As they were leaving his friend said, “Is that clerk always that rude?”
“Every single day,” the other said.
“Well, are you always that nice?”
“Every single day.”
This puzzled his friend so he asked why.
“I’ve made up my mind that I’m not allowing one person to ruin my day,” was the answer.
He had decided not to give control of his mood or attitude to anyone else. That store clerk had every right to be rude and obnoxious, but everyone he mistreated also had the right to go right on being happy, kind, and friendly.
Strength Under Control
When you encounter people who are poisoned inside, don’t let it rub off on you. If you sink down to their level and you’re cold and rude back to them, you’ve allowed them to contaminate you. Rise above that. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. You overcome evil with good. If somebody is rude to you, just bless them, smile, and keep moving forward.
Jesus put it this way: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NIV). When we hear the word meek, many times we think of someone who is weak, shy, and reserved; just a fearful little person. The image is that meek people can’t stand up for themselves and everyone runs over them. That’s not meek at all. Meekness is not weakness. It’s strength under control.
Meekness is like a wild stallion that has been tamed. The horse is still strong, still powerful, and has just as much speed as before he was tamed. The only difference is, now that strength is under control. You can walk up to the horse, pet him, lead him around, probably get on him and ride him. But don’t be fooled. He has the same power, the same tenacity; he’s just learned how to control it.
When you’re a meek person, you don’t go around trying to straighten everybody out. You don’t respond to every critic. People may be talking about you, but you don’t let it bother you.
Keep your strength under control. It’s not how proud you are, or how many people you straighten out, or how you can prove yourself. If you argue with a critic and try to prove yourself, all you’re doing is sinking to his or her level. Don’t fall into that trap. You are an eagle. You can rise above it.
You may have the power to straighten out your critic. You may feel like giving them a piece of your mind. Your emotions may tell you, Get in there. Pay them back. Get even. Instead, listen to what the apostle Paul told his protégé Timothy: “Be calm and cool and steady” (2 Timothy 4:5 AMP). He was saying, in other words, “Don’t give away your power. Keep your strength under control.”
A guy was eating a burger in a little country diner when a motorcycle gang came in. These bikers were big and tough and mean. Just to show who was in charge, one of them came to the guy’s table, knocked his hamburger onto the floor, picked up his water, and poured it on top of the guy’s head.
“Oh, I’m sorry. It was an accident,” the biker said sarcastically.
He was trying to pick a fight. The guy sat calmly, took out his napkin, wiped off the water, stood up, and walked out of the restaurant. The biker shook his head and said to the waiter, “Not much of a man, is he?”
The waiter said, “No, and not much of a driver either. He just ran over twelve choppers with his car.”
That’s strength under control.
If you are easily upset, don’t continue year after year that way. If you allow little things like long lines, the weather, a grumpy salesman, or an inconsiderate receptionist to steal your joy, draw a line in the sand. Say, “You know what? That’s it. I’m not giving away my power anymore. I’m staying calm, cool, and collected.”
David J. Pollay, author of The Law of the Garbage Truck, was in a New York City taxicab when a car jumped out from a parking place right in front of it. His cabbie had to slam on the brakes, the car skidded, and the tires squealed, but the taxi stopped an inch from the other car. The driver of the other car whipped his head around, and honked and screamed in anger. But David was surprised when his cabbie just smiled real big, and waved at him.
David said, “That man almost totaled your cab and sent us to the hospital. I can’t believe you didn’t yell back at him. How were you able to keep your cool?”
The cab driver’s response, which David calls “The Law of the Garbage Truck,” was this: “Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me, you’ll be happier.”
Keep your lid on.
Successful people don’t allow garbage trucks to unload on them. If somebody dumps a load on you, don’t be upset. Don’t be angry. Don’t be offended. If you make that mistake, you’ll end up carrying their loads around and eventually you’ll dump them on somebody else.
Keep your lid on. Sometimes you may need to have a steel lid. These days, though, so many people are dumping out poison through criticism, bad news, and anger, you’ll need to keep that lid on tight. We can’t stop people from dumping their garbage, but by keeping our lids on, we can tell them to recycle instead!
Right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I was invited to a local television station to be interviewed on a news program. I had to be there early Monday morning around six thirty. I was already tired after our Sunday services and weekend events. The day was cold, and raining, and still dark. I didn’t really feel like being on television, but I had made the commitment, so I was on my way. They had told me beforehand to park right up front in this special lot reserved for the people on the program. And so when I arrived, I pulled in there. But when I parked my car, a woman security guard rushed at me like I had just committed a major crime. She was not friendly at all. In fact, she was downright rude.
“Sir, what do you think you are doing?” she said. “You cannot park here. This is reserved for our special guests.”
I wanted to say, “Lady, you can’t get any more special than me.”
I had to bite my tongue.
“Well, ma’am, I am on the program today and they told me I could park here,” I explained.
“Oh, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” she said. “I run this lot. You have to park outside the gate.”
I returned to my car. I couldn’t find anywhere to park. I had to go into a little neighborhood far away, and it was still raining. I didn’t have an umbrella. And as I ran to the station, with every step I thought, This is not right. I need to tell somebody about that parking lot lady. I should get her straightened out.
I was about to give away my power, but I walked into the building and forgot all about it.
A couple of hours later, after the show, I walked out and the sun was shining. Do you know the same security guard came up and she was like a different person?
“Oh, Pastor Osteen,” she said. “If I had known that was you, I would have let you park there.”
I was so glad I bit my tongue. She went on to say, “Do you think you would have time to pray for me?”
I wanted to say, “I would if I didn’t have to walk so far.”
Make up your mind that you will not accept other people’s garbage. They may dump it, but you don’t have to receive it. Keep your lid on.
Emotions Are Controlled by Circumstances or Character
A small pot boils the quickest. You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to get him upset. Your emotions will be controlled by either your circumstances or your character. If someone is rude to you, your emotions will tell you, Pay them back. Get even.
That doesn’t take any discipline. When your strength is under control, when you’ve developed your character, you realize, I’m bigger than this. I will not let them pull me down. I have places to go, goals to accomplish, dreams to realize.
I think it’s interesting that the apostle Paul never prayed for people to be delivered from their problems. He prayed that God would give them the strength to go through challenges with a good attitude. At times we think, God, if You would just change these people who are aggravating me; God, if You’d just make my child straighten up. Or, God, if You’d just move my boss to another planet. Or, God, if You’d deliver me from these people, I could be happy.
But the truth is, those people may never change. I hope they do, but even if they don’t change, you can. If you make an adjustment, they won’t upset you anymore.
You have the power right now to live a joy-filled, faith-filled, peace-filled life. But you must say, “God, even if it never changes, it will not steal my joy. I know You hold me in the palm of Your hand. I know You have my best interests at heart, so God, I’m totally trusting You.”
The enemy can use against you anything you feel you “have to have” to be happy. If you think you have to be married to be happy, the enemy can use that against you. If you think your boss has to change before you can enjoy your work, you’ll go year after year dreading it, thinking that’s why you can’t be happy.
It’s good to have hopes and dreams. It’s good to wake up each day believing and expecting. But don’t wait for those things to come before you enjoy your life and find happiness. This is the day the Lord has made, not tomorrow, not when all your dreams come to pass, not when all the negative people are changed, but today.
Understand, God has you exactly where He wants you. If you’ll learn to be happy where you are, God will take you where you want to be. He’s promised He will give you the desires of your heart. If there is something you really want, I would encourage you to put it on the altar. Just say, “God, I would really love to have this. God, You know the desire You put in me. I would love to be married. I’d love to see my spouse change. I would love to be promoted. But God, I’m not waiting on that to be happy. I’m happy right where You have me.”
That’s the kind of attitude God is looking for.
Change for the Good
I know a man who struggled in his marriage for years. He and his wife did not see eye-to-eye on many issues, and she would not come to church with him. For the longest time this left him feeling down and discouraged. Then, I saw him awhile back and asked how everything was going. He seemed to be very upbeat. He said, “Everything is great. I’m really enjoying my life.”
I thought for sure that he and his wife were getting along better and they had resolved all those issues. But he said, “No, my wife is just the same. We still don’t see eye-to-eye. She still won’t come to church with me.”
Then he said something very interesting.
“She hasn’t changed, but I’ve changed. I don’t let our differences upset me anymore. I don’t let them steal my joy.”
Find out what is stealing your joy. Take inventory of your life. What are you allowing to upset you? What’s causing you to stress out all day? Identify what it is, and then make a decision to change your approach in that area. After all, being upset will not make the situation any better. If someone is rude to you, being rude in return will only sour your day. If your plans don’t work out, stay in peace. Instead of being upset, know that God is still directing your steps. He’s still got you exactly where He wants you.
It’s liberating when you understand you don’t have to give away your joy.
I was driving in a crowded parking lot and finally saw a space, but another driver got in there before I could, even though it was obvious I was waiting. I made this decision: “I’ll give him the parking spot, but I will not give him my joy.”
It’s liberating when you understand you don’t have to give away your joy. Sometimes we blame other people or other things for problems that we’ve created for ourselves. We don’t realize that our refusal to change is causing the same problem again and again. I heard about this man who had not been feeling well. He went to see his doctor. The doctor said, “What’s wrong?”
He said, “Well, Doctor, lately I’ve been dizzy and I’m seeing white spots.”
The doctor examined him and put him through some tests. Several days later, he called the ailing man back and said, “Sir, I hate to tell you this, but you’ve got a rare disease and we think you only have about six months to live.”
The man quit his job and set off to travel the world and do all the things he’d always hoped to do. He spent more time with his family, and he bought a new sports car. One day he was driving by this famous clothing shop and decided to go in and buy a tailor-made suit.
The tailor came in and measured his arm length: “Thirty-three inches.” Then he measured his waist: “Thirty-two.” Next was his pant length: “Thirty-four.” And finally the tailor measured his neck and said, “I’m making you a size sixteen-and-a-half shirt.”
The man said, “No, I wear a fifteen-inch shirt.”
Excerpted from Every Day a Friday by Joel Osteen Copyright © 2012 by Joel Osteen. Excerpted by permission.
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