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Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

By Leslie Vernick

When I was vacationing in Italy I couldn’t help but notice Pinocchio. He was everywhere, in every shop, in every window. There were big ones small ones, hand carved ones and ceramic ones.

Pinocchio is a wooden marionette. He was created by a fictional character, Geppetto – an Italian woodcarver. As the story goes, Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy. He believed that he would be happy if he were free to live his life for pleasure.

To Pinocchio the good life meant eating, sleeping, and playing when he wanted, without anyone telling him what to do. Pinocchio hated school and he was allergic to work. Along the way people tried to help Pinocchio grow up, but he refused to listen to their advice and was easily fooled with promises of fun and fortune.

Many painful lessons later, Pinocchio finally began to grasp the idea that to find any real happiness he would need to focus on something besides having a good time. Pinocchio started to work hard on his school lessons and tried to be less self-centered and selfish.

But one night, Pinocchio’s friend, Lamp-wick, enticed him to run away to the Land of Toys. Lamp-wick boasted, “I’m going to a real country…the best in the world…it’s a wonderful place!”

Initially Pinocchio refused, but Lamp-wick coaxed him by telling Pinocchio, “You’ll be sorry!”

Pinocchio struggled. Should he choose to stay on what looked like the right path of virtue and purpose, or should he forsake all that and take the easy path straight to the Land of Toys?

Pinocchio considered his choices. A place where there was no school, no teachers, or books. A place where no one studies or works and everyday is like vacation. Sounds wonderful, too good to pass up.

Pinocchio’s promise to work hard vanished and he agreed to run away with Lamp-wick. “This is the place for me!” Pinocchio said. “How happy we should all be.” And for a while, that’s exactly what it seemed. But several months later, Pinocchio woke up and peered into a basin of water. Pinocchio saw his ears and nose were changing. He was becoming a donkey, just like the one he rode on when the wooden cart brought all the boys to The Land of Toys.

Pinocchio felt scared. He realized that living for himself and pleasure was a lie. It didn’t make him happy. It enslaved him.

As a Christian counselor and coach, I have worked with hundreds of people who, like Pinocchio, want to be happy.

Just as Lamp-wick enticed Pinocchio by assuring him that he would find his heart’s fulfillment in the Land of Toys, the world promises us that happiness is found when we get more for ourselves – more stuff, more pleasure, more money, more success, or more appreciation and accolades.

We’re bombarded with slogans that promise self-esteem and significance when we get whiter teeth, a Platinum Master Card, a hot body or a luxury car.

But does getting more ever bring anyone lasting happiness or satisfaction? That is what Satan would like you to believe.

Pinocchio learned the hard way – after turning into a donkey – that the Land of Toys was not what was promised. It almost destroyed him. More is never enough. It cannot satisfy our desire for more.

And, what feels good to our flesh often turns out to be poison to our soul and spirit.

The Bible says “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” Proverbs 14:12.

You and I don't always know what’s good for us but God does. He does want you to have a life well-lived. Can you trust him today and follow his path for life (Proverbs 3:5,6)?


Lord, I Just Want To Be Happy

by Leslie Vernick

Counselor and author Leslie Vernick has discovered that many people pray, “Lord, I just want to be happy!” With candor, Leslie reveals that readers don’t need new circumstances but a new perspective to discover true happiness. With biblical insight, Leslie guides readers to take simple steps as they…

  • recognize and change habits that, day by day, keep them from experiencing happiness
  • make good choices and learn from mistakes without beating themselves up
  • develop the skills that enable them to let go of negative and painful emotions more quickly
  • transform difficult circumstances so they can live with gratitude, joy, and purpose

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “How To Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong” by Leslie Vernick are Rowena A. and Melanie H.


Upcoming Events

Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

March 26th and 27th 2020
Dallas, TX

Center for Christian Counseling
July 24th and 25th 2020
Madison, WI

GT Church
August 16th and 17th 2020
West Lawn, PA

New Hope Church
November 6th and 7th 2020
East Lansing, MI

The Village Church
December 3rd, 2020
Flowermound, TX

Build Your CORE

Question: My daughter and her husband are coming up on 5 years of marriage. It’s been the longest, painful, 5 years of our lives. We have tried everything we know how to help, support, involve them, love them, and he just doesn’t want it. He said right from the beginning, “My goal is to break this family apart!” We are tired, hurt, angry, in pain, suffering from the death of a healthy relationship with our daughter, because he says, “I’m intimidated by you guys.”

We were a very tight, loving family until he and his family came along. We just saw her recently at a family wedding and it tore me up. Right now there is little or no communication. I’m feeling I just need to have her out of my life completely in order to heal. I’m struggling with that. Truthfully, it’s very close to that now. I love her so much, our only child for 12 years until our other daughter came along. I don’t know where to go with the pain. I’m questioning why God would allow this to happen and whether or not there even is a God. I’m hurting.

I’m still hanging on by a thread but barely. What more could God want me to learn and endure?

I am so sorry for what you’re going through.

It is so hard to trust God when we cannot understand why he allows certain things to happen in our lives. When it doesn’t make sense to us, we’re often tempted with the thought that God is not good or that there must not be a God at all.

I hope you understand that in addition to having to deal with the pain of losing your daughter’s closeness with your family; you are in a real spiritual battle. Like Job in the Old Testament, you are struggling to understand why God would allow such hardship into your life. Please hear me. Theological truths don’t always bring a whole lot of comfort in the midst of our affliction, but nevertheless, they’re important so that we can at least understand a little bit of what might be going on.

The challenge that Satan posed to God regarding Job was this. “Job only loves you and serves you because you bless him. Take that away and he will curse you.” (See Job 1 for the story.) I think the same sort of challenge unfolds in many of our lives. When it seems to us that God is good, it is easy to love him, praise him, and trust him. But when life feeds us bitter herbs, we often don’t want anything to do with him and our faith and trust plummets.

Here is What People are Saying About Leslie's Conquer Support Group.

I completed one year in the Conquer program and found both peace and community here. In the summer of 2016 Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, providentially appeared in my online feed. The book changed my life. Not only did it validate my experience, but it provided scriptural support of what I knew God was speaking to my heart. Joining the Conquer group was a way for me to immerse myself in a supportive community of women who understand the patterns of a destructive marriage. Within our safe and private Facebook group, we shared inspiring scriptures, educational resources, and our lives. I loved the fact that I was safe to expose my heart and request prayer from women who were walking in my footsteps.

During my membership year, I also focused on my own recovery and I prayed for guidance from God. I highly recommend Conquer. I am better educated and I have gained a sense of validation. I needed to know I was not crazy, and not alone. ABOVE ALL- I'm so thankful for each one of my Conquer Sisters. For their transparency, kindness, willingness to read, to listen and to share. I will continue to pray for Leslie, my Conquer sisters, and this ministry.

~ Stacey


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States