In a perfect world, we would have challenges always but they would be challenges that do not engender tears. There would be no challenges that revolve around losing children to death, no loss of loved ones to sickness, no loss of jobs, no meaningless disagreements with neighbors, no earthquakes, no tsunamis, no floods, no fires in which all memorabilia of the past are irretrievably lost.
There would be challenges of improving on programming of a car to produce a hovercraft, programming of a space craft so we can journey to Jupiter in three weeks rather than three decades, programming of models for pricing new types of assets never before seen because we just discovered some new metal on Saturn. There would be challenges of improving on our love lives, sex life, or understanding of what makes for more harmonious living. Life always would have meaning. In a perfect world, joy safely can derive from success at doing, finding, or achievement of objectives.
In a perfect world joy safely can derive from success at doing, finding, or achievement of objectives.
Joy is not happiness. Happiness is an emotion. No one in their right mind seeks to be happy all of the time because in a perfect world, the opposite of happiness is not sadness, its tranquility.
In a perfect world, the opposite of happiness is not sadness, its tranquility.
Sadness is opposite of happiness only in context of an imperfect world. In a perfect world, we would switch between excitement or happiness and tranquility. It is tranquility that makes a guy and a gal sit gazing into each other’s eyes holding hands feeling the world is at a stand still because of their love. Happiness can make a guy and a gal dance, fill them with gaiety, tranquility makes the world stand still as they reflect on their love at times absent any exchange of words. In a perfect world, tranquility, dancing, gaiety, singing all emanate from inner joy, inner joy we always have because joy is a state of being, a quality.
Joy is a state of being, a quality, as such in a perfect world we can reasonably expect always to have joy.
In an imperfect world, joy that derives from success or achievement of objectives can be sucked away by death of a loved one, loss of a child, sickness, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires etc., things over which we lack control. If we derive joy from our achievements, even if all of our neighbors love us, our collective joy easily can be stolen by caprice of nature — think Houston, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Las Vegas etc.. There is no joy in losing every record of progression of your children with age to some meaningless fiery uncontrollable blaze.
If we are to maintain joy in an imperfect world within which nature can be capricious either out of malice or because we have messed with it, joy must be impervious to all of the imperfections of life, ours inclusive because face it, our imperfections sometimes are the most important threats to our joy.
Our imperfections sometimes are the most important threats to our joy.
When a good man makes a mistake in his dealings with those whom he loves, his sense of having failed can take away his joy, and drive him into a state of drunkenness or addiction. Only when such a good man can hold on to his joy in midst of such failing is he able to redeem himself in his own sight and keep moving in the right direction. When a man murders his ex wife and his children (you will be surprised how often already this has happened in the United States), it is because divorce has sucked the joy out of his life and he despairs his ex will use what should bring him joy — his children — to provide joy to anyone else, herself inclusive. Countries where it seems such do not happen, more likely to be poor record keeping not better people.
Good men who lose their joy can descend to unfathomable depths in extremity of their actions.
A potential solution is for our joy not to be attached to our successes or achievements. This way we are impervious to success or failure. But this is sterile living because in order to protect our minds we totally exclude joy from out of our lives. But is this not exactly what capricious nature is capable of doing — taking away our joy? To be impervious to success or failure then is to do for capricious nature exactly what we seek to prevent. This is proverbial “cutting your nose to spite your face.”
A better solution is for our joy to derive from our capacity to do what is right as opposed to our successes or achievements. Since we are not perfect, however, a couple of mistakes can as discussed totally derail our joy. It would seem then that in an imperfect world, joy is a quality which no matter what we are unable to hold on to continuously and unabatedly. A battle we are unable to win.
What then are we to do?
Personally, I derive joy from doing the right thing. When I make mistakes I acknowledge them, lay them at the feet of Jesus Christ, and receive peace for my shortcomings. From out of my restored peace I again find my joy. This has worked for me for decades. It continues to work for me. It works because I make mistakes within context of good intentions or motives, as such never threaten my joy from within myself. Whenever my imperfections threaten my joy it is within context of a learning moment — a moment of insight. For those moments, I have Jesus Christ who helps me forgive myself. It is my capacity to forgive myself that makes it possible for me to forgive others their shortcomings evident in how they relate with me.
Only those capable of forgiving themselves, who as such are able to truly maintain joy have capacity to forgive others.
In the last seven years I have been through a lot in the sense of say capricious nature. My wife of 16 years, 13 post wedding upped and left right after I supported her to actualize her education goals. Imagine not saving for five years so your wife can go to school and so you can provide for four young children then having the wife leave right after she got a job out of the education you funded. Ouch!!! Talk about being sucker punched in the gut by ‘Brutus’. I was so out of breath I could not even figuratively utter “Et tu Brutus?” Did it hurt? You bet. The question that almost kills you is the “did she ever really love me question.” But you learn to live without an answer and truly move on because when the marriage already is over an answer is pointless.
I have totally forgiven my ex, but it gets worse.
In wake of that decision by my ex wife, I made a mistake and without any direct implications for my relationship with my children — my ex wife was gracious enough (tongue in cheek you can imagine) to acknowledge I am a great father — I have not been able to be in physical proximity of my four children for five years and counting. We are talking kids in the prime of life — teenagers and adolescents.
I forgave myself. I have never asked my ex any questions about why she left or how she’s being since then. I am at peace and have joy.
My business did not take off as I had planned on resignation from my full time job and I eventually had to relocate out of the United States to secure new employment. Were there days it was difficult to be happy? Absolutely! Joy, however, I never once have lost in the last seven years.
I can say with confidence the peace and joy Jesus promises never has failed me — not even once in seven years.
The last two years I have attended a church service only about four times either because I was invited or was visiting with extended family and did not want to get into any arguments about efficacy of church services as domiciles of the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Regardless of lack of attendance at church services, the peace and joy Jesus promises never has failed me because promised peace and joy are not confined to church services; rather are promised to those who have faith in Jesus Christ, not those who attend church services.
I do not stay away from church services because I want to prove a point. Rather I stay away because church services to a large extent have become anything but what Jesus expects them to be. There is posturing, there is preaching, there is acting, there is singing, there is dancing, there is money changing hands, but little of Jesus or His Spirit. When attendance at church services threatens your joy more than circumstances of life outside of church services, what you are looking for in the church service — fellowship with Jesus Christ embodied in fellowship with fellow believers — is not there. Why would you be?
Spirituality that is ineffective at helping us maintain our joy moment by moment, day by day is meaningless, useless spirituality.
Personally, I have found Jesus Christ to be my source of unfailing, never ending supply of joy. My joy derives from capacity to do what is right and capacity to forgive myself when I fall short of my own standards, standards determined by my faith in the name of Jesus Christ.
The greater the number of people who can find and maintain joy, the more we create a better world for us all.