I do stupid things because I think they are going to make me happy. When I was younger, I thought for sure that I was going to fall in love, and a woman was going to make me happy. So I dated. A lot. And the only thing I figured out was that I am terrible at relationships.

I buy stupid things because I think they’re going to make me happy, I mostly buy technology, which always breaks or, at best, is quickly outdated and I can’t afford the new stuff.

I cheer for stupid teams because I think they are going to make me happy. I was a Cowboys fan for years, and I don’t have to tell you that I haven’t been happy about that since the ’90s.

In chapter 10 of Luke, we read the story of two women, Mary and Martha, who had this incredible opportunity to host Jesus and the disciples. For Mary, the choice was easy: just sit with Jesus. As for Martha, well, she was scrambling to get things done and was missing out on everything. Jesus tells her plainly:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
— Luke 10:41–42

I have to admit that his response to Mary annoys me. I wish she had been like “OK, Jesus, I know relationship is important, but let’s see if you still feel that way when there’s nothing to eat.”

It annoys me because I know what Martha is doing here. She has an opportunity to sit with Jesus, which is not an easy thing. I know that, when I try and spend time with Jesus, he is always pushing me towards godliness. So it’s easier to just date or buy something than it is to work on those things.

But, if I am being honest, I know that I fill my life with all these things because I have a lack of peace. I fill my weekends with women because I don’t want to deal with loneliness. Or I fill them with tech so that I can impress people with things, instead of working on my character. Or I cheer loudly for a team so I don’t have to deal with my own frustrations at work.

I want you to think about every truly happy person you know. All of these people have something in common: on the inside, they’re good.

Specifically, happy people are at peace. They may have awesome or terrible parents. They may be introverts or extroverts. They may be killing it at work or struggling to make ends meet. But happy people are:

1. At peace with themselves. They’re comfortable in their own skin. In fact, sometimes you look at what they don’t have and think they’re crazy. How could they be happy when they don’t have (fill in the blank)? They don’t hate themselves. They’re not trying to be somebody they’re not. They’re just at peace with, well, them.

2. At peace with others. They’re not angry at somebody. Even if they’ve been mistreated, they’re not bitter. Happy people aren’t churning on the inside, trying to get the whole world to meet their expectations. They’re not vengeful, trying to get back at somebody, or making sure they are paid in full for every wrong that was done to them in order to reset some imaginary scoreboard back to even.

3. At peace with God. They believe there’s some sort of divine sense of purpose. They believe that in the end, somehow, things are going to work out. They simply have a confidence in God that allows them to walk through stuff that would otherwise steal somebody’s peace, joy or happiness.

Chances are, you don’t think about peace a lot. You don’t wish for it in the way you wish for good relationships or good technology or winning sports teams. But when you really think about the happiest people you know, peace is the common factor for all of them.