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A Recipe for Happiness

Carol wanted to do something nice for her new neighbor, Mrs. Smith, so she baked a pie and took it next door. When Mrs. Smith opened the door, she was surprised to see Carol holding the pie.

“Is that for me?” she trilled. “I can’t believe it! That is so nice. You just don’t know how much I appreciate this. You are so thoughtful. Thank you!”

Because the response was so favorable, Carol decided the next week to bake Mrs. Smith another pie. When she took it over, Mrs. Smith said, “Why thank you so much! You are just too kind!”

The next week, Carol took another pie, and Mrs. Smith just said, “Thanks.”

The following week when Carol took Mrs. Smith a pie, she got, “You’re a day late with my pie.”

Carol tried once more the next week and Mrs. Smith said, “Try using a bit more sugar. And, don’t bake it quite so long; the crust has been too hard lately.”

Carol quit. She was too busy to bake unappreciated pies. As she hurried out to the store a week later, Mrs. Smith stuck her head out of her kitchen window and called, “Hey, Carol. Where’s my pie?” (from The 911 Handbook by Kent Crockett)

Do you ever feel like somebody is keeping your pie? That they aren’t cooking it right? That nobody cares enough to treat you right? And no matter how much you point out to people what needs to be corrected, do you just get more of the same abuse?

If so, I have good news for you. You can change that situation. You can be happy! God says you learn the “secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). That’s the good news!

Here’s the bad news. The problem might be you. In the story above, the problem wasn’t really that Mrs. Smith wasn’t being treated well. The problem arose when she started to take her blessings for granted and then began to see and dwell on the imperfections in her situation in life rather than on the good around her. She wound up miserable, and she was on her way to making Carol unhappy too.

God gives some incredibly simple advice on how to be happy in an imperfect world: “Do everything without arguing or complaining” (Philippians 2:14).

Everything + no complaining = content. That’s a simple recipe for happiness.


*This column adapted from chapter 7 of Journey to Joy (


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