h1

Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 3) – Dec. 7

December 7, 2015

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 11:31

The problem with happiness is that it’s a difficult thing to detect. It’s discreet and serene by definition. Just when you think you’ve found it, it’s likely just a spark of euphoria, as quick and fleeting as fireworks. Human beings are therefore doomed to feeling happy without knowing it or experiencing brief and unstable glimmers of euphoria. There aren’t many people who have the tantric ability to fully experience happiness, detached from the bliss of euphoria.
Andre Averbug,

I could not disagree more with this quote by Andre Averbug. 

This is my third post in a series exploring how we can develop an ability to fully experience happiness and not mere unstable glimmers of euphoria.  I fully believe that we can reverse engineer happiness to make it a regular and consistent aspect of our existence.  If you want to read the first two posts on this topic you can find them at: Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 1)Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 2)

What comes to your mind
upon hearing the term philosopher?

800px-The_Thinker,_Rodin

A “selfie” may not be the first likeness conjured from the depths of our mind.  Most people do not think of themselves as philosophical.  However, a philosopher is a person who offers views or theories on profound questions in ethics, metaphysics, logic, and other related fields.  Based on this definition, I contend that every person has played the philosopher because an essentially philosophical question forces the masses into the role.

“The soul needs meaning as much as the body needs food.”
Richard Rohr

“That one must either explain life to oneself
so that it does not seem
to be an evil mockery
by some sort of devil,
or one must shoot oneself.”
Leo Tolstoy

Every thinking person has been plagued by the same question.  We inevitably have to wrestle, in our own way, with one of the most profound questions of human existence – “why am I here”.   The resolution of this question launches every person on a philosophically based trajectory, whether they realize it or not.

The issue is whether you are
a good or poor philosopher. 

the_philosopher

Most will tinker with this cosmic question; postulate in a vacuum; mull mystically while never mediating to a revelation for their existence.  Philosophical tinkering has produced an amazing range of answers to the same question.  Goodreads has 450 quotes demonstrating this amazing philosophical range to life’s meaning.

These quotes reveal each author’s personal response to the common question.  I find it fascinating how every quote exposes a profound personal philosophy with the power to navigate the author’s life; their happiness will depend in large part on how their lives unwind around their philosophical tinkering.

881px-Johannes_Moreelse_-_Democritus_-_Google_Art_Project

The human experience swirls around this simple question. We are indwelled with an inherent desire to matter.  Every person yearns for their existence to extend beyond the realm of mere physical and chemical reactions.

Therefore, the mind searches for the right equation
to satisfy its desire for purpose. 

What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion. Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.
Albert Einstein

Every Christian has this same desire to matter.  Christians are merely philosophers who have concluded that the God of the Bible is the answer to the profound questions of their lives.  Some may argue that Christians are poor philosophers based on our simplistic notion that God is the answer.  However, the simplicity of an answer does not determine its correctness.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
~ Dr. Seuss

“God is the inevitability of humanity’s search for true meaning.”
Jared Brock

Christian theologians have formulated a Biblical response to this primary of human questions that must get communicated to each generation.  The difference of a truly Christian approach is the application of an authority which is missing from the majority of the answers found on Goodreads – the Bible.

“Philosophers can debate the meaning of life,
but you need a Lord who can declare the meaning of life.”
Max Lucado

In my opinion, Christian theology’s best answer to this question comes in the Westminster Catechism.  I appreciate that the very first question of the catechism is this profound philosophical question plaguing mankind.  It also demonstrates the importance of a correct understanding of life’s purpose before we dive into other profound questions.

Question No. 1 – What is the chief and highest end of man?

Answer – Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever.

I believe that this is the purpose of every human being.  Life’s meaning is found in the glorification and enjoyment of God.  I used the illustration in my last post that the purpose of a car is motion.  Just like a car, our purpose as human beings is to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever.  How that is accomplished is dependent upon what we were designed to transverse.

The Problem:  The reason many find happiness a difficult thing to detect or “just a spark of euphoria, as quick and fleeting as fireworks” is because they are glorifying wrongly.  Human beings are doomed to experiencing happiness as brief and unstable glimmers of euphoria when they substitute anything into the place of God.  This is why the philosophical tinkering gets so many people into trouble.  They conclude wrongly the meaning of life and substitute that purpose into the position that was created for God to fill.  This does not mean that they will be devoid of happiness.  We get glimmers of real happiness when we unknowingly brush up against our true purpose, but it is like the misfiring of a poorly functioning car.  It is gone as quickly as our focus bounces back to ourselves and misplaced purpose.  Therefore, many confuse how their happiness is derived and simply try harder in their desperate search to be happy.

The Solution:  Reverse engineering is the process of analyzing a system by identifying the system’s components and their interrelationships.  If I am correct and humans are created with the same purpose and that happiness results in its fulfillment, then the next step in the reverse  engineering process it to identify the components that cause us to fulfill our purpose.

We all have been created with different courses.  The Christian life is about motion along the pathway of Faith; Motion in the form of glorifying and enjoying God, which will be accomplished in as varied manners as there are paths in life.  It is in that motion, living in accordance to our purpose, where the experience of regular and consistent happiness resides.   I’ll give you some principles to discover the interrelationships in your unique life that will help you live in accordance to your purpose.

“God’s design is to glorify himself and to show to the whole universe what an infinitely glorious Being he is. This is his mighty end in all he does and says to manifest himself, and show forth his glory. For this sin was allowed to enter the world; for this the Word was made flesh; for this the Son of God shed his blood and died; for this he is taking out of the world a people to himself; to this all things are tending.”
~ Horatius Bonar

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for creating us to experience happiness.   Thank you for giving us a purpose – a meaning to life.  Thank you for giving us minds and bodies specifically blessed and formed to fulfill our purpose in a unique way.   Lord, help us to find our true selves and be all that you have called us to be.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

5 comments

  1. […] This is my fourth post in a series exploring how we can develop an ability to experience happiness as a regular and consistent aspect of our existence and not mere blimps of bliss.  I fully believe that we can reverse engineer happiness.  If you want to read the first three posts on this topic you can find them at: Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 1), Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 2), Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 3). […]


  2. “The Christian life is about motion along the pathway of Faith; Motion in the form of glorifying and enjoying God, which will be accomplished in as varied manners as there are paths in life. It is in that motion, living in accordance to our purpose, where the experience of regular and consistent happiness resides.” Amen, JD! I’ll look forward to your principles for living according to our ordained purpose (to see if I guessed some of them correctly)!


    • Hey Nancy – you probably have a good idea of where I am going. Let me know if you guessed correctly:) God Bless! JD


  3. I was reading that first quote, thinking “That’s utter poppycock!” Great minds think alike, I suppose. Excellent post.


    • When I ran across that quote, I just had to use it in this post. I ended up doing a major re-write just to share its utter poppycockness.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: