What do you think is the best way to experience the most joy in life?
Is it making really interesting friends? What about packing your schedule with club meetings, sports, and activities that bring you happiness? Is it being part of something bigger, a team, a company, a mission? Maybe it’s going all out in helping people?
While joy is such a large feeling that can be found and shared in a million different ways, there is a thread that runs through every moment of joy. One principle of joy that we can use to increase it:
When we feel joy we forget ourselves.
And this isn’t some righteous oh go be more selfless talk, I’m talking about things you probably know all about already. Movies, art, dancing, relationships, great food, all of these things have a way of pulling us in so much that we forget ourselves. Whether it’s such an amazing bite that we just need to stop and let the taste sink in, or whether we’re in a game totally slaying other teams, in these moments of joy we’re not wondering what we look like, how we’re coming across to other people, or what’s in it for us.
In fact, moments when we do think about ourselves can feel terrible. Our most awkward/socially intimidating moments happen when our minds are just flooded with thoughts of oh that sounded weird why did I say that, they’re probably all thinking I’m ___, or am I making a good impression?. But even positive thoughts of self, thoughts like wow I look really good today, or I’m great at this don’t bring as much joy as getting lost in the moment.
Now I’m definitely not saying that all thoughts of self are bad. After all, you need to take care of yourself, plan for your future, and be self-aware. But what I am saying is: a life purpose that focuses on self would not be enjoyable.
From laughing so hard at jokes to marveling at attractions when we travel, we all know what it’s like to feel joy in forgetting ourselves. But if the purpose of life isn’t feeling the most joy we possibly can, what is it? Well that depends on your world view. As a Christian, I believe the purpose of life is this:
We exist not for ourselves, but to clearly display our creator.
1 Corinthians 10:31, Matthew 5:16, and Isaiah 40:5 all talk about this very life-purpose. And it’s no coincidence that living a life with the sole purpose of clearly displaying our creator will also help us forget ourselves in the most everlasting and meaningful way possible. That’s who God is, a loving God who cares about our joy.
This doesn’t mean go be a pastor or shove your religion down others’ throats, it means everything you do is now infinitely more meaningful. When you put your utmost effort into your passions, when you do all the little things like chug away at that stream of assignments school never seems to stop giving, that displays God. Because in everything, how you do it is what really matters. How you do it shows who you are, and who you are has the opportunity of showing others who God is, the source of our joy, strength, hope, and purpose.
Think of God as the infinite night sky. Every single one of us humans is a telescope. When someone chooses Christ, they choose to point to Him, the night sky. We point to Him because it is the most joyful thing we could do for ourselves. We were literally made to observe and treasure Him in all of his beauty, infiniteness, and love. But we also point to Him because when we do, others are able to look through us and see that beauty. It’s the most beautiful view we could give others because when others glimpse something so meaningful, they’ll become their own telescopes and their joy and purpose will increase. Now they too have this meaningful mission of displaying and enjoying God’s beauty in everything they do and are!
Now imagine if a telescope pointed down at itself, the pole that was holding it up. If it thinks that itself is actually the important thing to look at (
this totally isn’t me sometimes), it stops focusing on what would bring itself and others joy. Being made in the image of God means others can look through us, not that others should look at us.
Or instead imagine if the telescope poorly took care of itself. It could be pointing at the most magnificent blanket of stars but if it’s glass is foggy it won’t be able to see or spread that beauty as much as it could. That’s why we’re all a work in progress in every area of our lives. When we grow in skill, character, and love we make that focus on the night sky’s beauty clearer because skill, character and love are beautiful gifts from God. Gifts that speak of who He is.
So join me 🙂
- Enjoy God’s beauty.
- Spread that beauty and show God’s love to others.
- Grow that beauty in everything you do and are.
I can’t wait to see all of your meaningful pursuits.