murphys law

murphys law (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

When you are having “one of those days”, a Murphy’s Law day, what do you do?  When you find yourself in a messy situation, or an unforseen problem arises,  what options do you have, other than to be frustrated, irate, or irritable?  Here are a few things I think about to help me to find happiness in the mess.

1.  Things could be worse.

2.  Things will get better.

3.  Find something to be thankful for.

4.  Find a happy verse.

5.  Sing a happy song.

6.  Smile.

7.  Find opportunities in the midst  of  difficulties.

8.  Nothing good is gained by grumbling.

One of the things that can rob us of our happiness, that makes us feel frustrated, angry or upset, is that things aren’t going the way we planned.  We have expectations of the way things should be.  When those expectations turn sour, we are tempted to turn sour in our attitudes and outlook.  When our day begins to take a turn for the worse, we need to take a deep breath and realize that negative, “stinkin’ thinkin'” will not help us.  When we feel like our good day is beginning to sink in the troubled waters of unmet expectations, it’s a good idea grasp the life preserver of happy thoughts.  When I cling to the eight ideas above, a smile comes to my lips, happy feelings return, and I can return to the helm of life with a cheery disposition.  I hope that these ideas help you turn your mess into happiness.

I didn’t plan on getting the flu last week.  I didn’t expect my wife and daughters would be sick.  But that is  the  situation we found ourselves in.  Through the coughing, fever and fatigue, I was able to find happiness in the mess.

Things could have been worse.

We could have had cancer, or some other painful, life threatening disease.  It was just the flu after all.  And it was comforting to know that God was by our sides, helping us through the illness.  The ultimate “things could be worse” would be going through sickness, pain, disappointment, without our gracious, compassionate and merciful God at our side.

Things will get better.

We are all better now.  While we didn’t like suffering from the flu, we knew that after a week or so we would feel better.  And after a month we would forget all about laying in bed with shakes, shivers, sweat and snotty noses.  That helped make me happy in the midst of my discomfort.  The ultimate “things will get better” is knowing that even if one of us did have a terminal illness, and ended up dying, we would be in the happy arms of our loving heavenly Father, experiencing relief and incredible joys forevermore.

Find something to be thankful for.

I was thankful for the marvelous miracle of modern medicine.  Thank you God for drugs!  Thank you God for doctors that know what to prescribe to make us feel better.  Thank you God for nurses, like Marge, who is helping out here at the home for needy children for a month.  She administered the unpleasant shots that the kids needed, along with a healthy dose of encouraging and comforting words (and some natural herbal remedies thrown in for good measure).

Find a happy verse.

Scripture verses from the Bible give me a joy that would otherwise be unknown when I find myself in a mess, be it physical, job related or just everyday inconveniences.  They help me change my focus from me and my unpleasant mess, to God and His goodness and power.  Some verses that I regularly grab  hold of  in time of need are:

                       Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on  your own  understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.  Proverbs 3:5,6

                        All  things work  together for good to those  who love God, to  those who have been called according  to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

                  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of  your heart.  Psalm 37:4

                                 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall  be added to you .  Matthew 6:33

Sing a happy song.

Most of my happy songs that encourage me  in the mess, are oldies but goodies from my youth.  A few favorites are:

Praise God from whom all blessing flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above ye heavenly host.  Praise Father, Son and  Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of  God.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.


It is amazing what a smile can do for the general well being of a person who finds himself in the midst of a mess.  Over the years I have read articles from psychologists who tell us of chemical and biological changes that happen in the brain when we smile, that make us feel better even if we don’t feel happy at the time.You can check out a somewhat recent article in Psychology Today about the power of a smile to make you feel happy.  Another thing about smiling when we don’t feel like it, to encourage happiness, at least for me, is  that when I smile, it reminds me of happy days and times in the past, when I really did feel like smiling.  Those memories create in me a good feeling and in  turning my thoughts from my present negative mess, to positive happy times I have experienced, creates in me a genuine feeling of joy and contentment.

Find opportunities in the midst of difficulties.

Sometimes, when things aren’t going the way I had planned, if I take a moment and tell myself to try and find something good in the bad situation, I generally discover a opportunity for happiness to displace the mess.  I am generally impatient and hate waiting.  When I am held up by other peoples tardiness, or road blocks ( a rather common occurrence here in Oaxaca, Mexico) I can choose to sit and stew, or find an opportunity to better my condition.  Sometimes, while waiting for someone, I will take the extra time to make sure I have everything I need for the task at hand.  I’m surprised at how often I discover that I have forgotten something important, and have a chance to retrieve it, and breath a prayer of thanks for the delay.  When I am stuck in traffic, or sick in my bed, I have opportunity to work on my blog or prepare a devotion for the mission church service.  If we take time to think, we can find opportunity in the difficulty.

Nothing good is gained by grumbling.

My first reaction  upon finding myself in a mess is to grumble.  To complain.  To get angry and find blame.  I get frustrated and upset.  After some time of going through these mental gyrations, I finally realize that I have wasted time, energy and thought over something that I have no control over.  I  have gained nothing by my negative thoughts.  Realizing that nothing good is gained by grumbling is the first step for me toward finding happiness in the mess.

So there you have it.  Eight thoughts to help you find happiness in whatever mess you might find yourself in.  A few quick things to hang onto and put into action when Murphy and the mess slam head on into your otherwise perfect day.

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No matter how much we have grown, we still need to grow more.  No matter how mature we are, we never stop maturing.  And no matter how unspiritual we are, as long as we want to grow more, Jesus will show  up  in the life of even the messiest of disciples.  Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

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Next blog – Chickens, Tamales, Smoke and  Radio Zapoteca