Chapters 1 & 2
It was a Thursday afternoon. We were in a hotel room, across the street from one of the most premier medical facilities in the world, Mayo Clinic. Our daughter Anna had been undergoing tests to diagnose a medical condition.
Anna’s body was still weary from anesthesia, and she rested her head on my shoulder. Scott flipped channels on the hotel room TV. I scrolled through my Facebook feed.
That’s when I saw it for the first time — a viral video of a mom with a Chewbacca mask. It was a video that would eventually blow up the Internet with side-splitting laughter.
I held my iPhone out so Anna and Scott could see, too. If you saw the video — and chances are that you did — you know that the video shows a woman named Candace Payne in the her car. She had just purchased a mask for herself — not her kids, she’ll have you know — but for her own sweet self.
She gets so tickled when she sees herself, that she starts laughing hysterically.
And so did we.
For a solid four minutes, our family was caught up in Candace’s glorious laughing fit. For a moment, we forgot why Anna was wearing a red hospital bracelet around her wrist.
We forgot everything, except for how good it felt to laugh again.
And that’s the way it was for millions of others, too. All over the world, people forgot their aches, their own bad news, this rancorous political cycle that has left all of us feeling weary.
Lately, the world feels like an ugly place, you know? A terrorist opens fire. Your friend goes on hospice. Someone you love walks out the door. You can’t kick the habit. No one comes around anymore.
Then suddenly, some mama you don’t even know wears a silly mask, and we are all surprised when we find our smiles again.
That was Candace’s gift to the world: She showed us the durable value of happiness.
Happiness is the reason why you and are I here today, at the beginning of a wild dare toward happiness. We are here because we still believe that happiness is possible, even when life is hard.
“But, Jennifer,” someone asked me. “Don’t you mean joy? Isn’t that what we’re really after?”
I understand the trepidation behind that question. If you’ve read the first chapters of the book, you know that I asked that very same question when I took my own happiness dare!
Many of us have been taught that joy is good, and happiness is bad. But true happiness — the kind we find in Jesus — is one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given here on earth.
That’s why we’re bringing you this dare. We believe that happiness is permissible by God — and achievable through Him.
My prayer for each of us is that we will let go of our preconceived notions about happiness, that we will surrender ourselves to the possibility that happiness matters to God.
Happiness is a feeling, but it’s also a decision. It’s a choice we get to make every day.
Where do we make that choice?
In a hotel room at Mayo Clinic. In a car with a Chewbacca mask. On a day when the world seems like it’s falling apart. On the mornings when you’re scared to get out of bed.
Happiness might be the bravest decision you’ll ever make.
Let’s do this.
For Thursday, read Chapter 3 and come back here to join us!
Head over here to join in today’s book club discussion! In The Happiness Dare, Jennifer says that for most of her life she had considered herself a happy person, but she had lost some of that happiness along the way. Take a self-inventory of your happiness. How happy are you in this season? Do you think God cares about your happiness, or more about your joy?
Jennifer Dukes Lee is the author of The Happiness Dare and Love Idol. An award-winning former news journalist, she is also an (in)courage writer. She loves air guitar, dark chocolate, emojis, messy people, and Jesus — not in that order. Jennifer and her husband live on the Lee family farm in northwest Iowa with their two daughters, where they spend at least five minutes every day in the pursuit of happiness.