“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  Romans 15:13

In my last post, Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 1), I asserted a disbelief in a universal formula for happiness, applicable to every person in every circumstance.  Rather, I proposed a belief that a purposeful life produces happiness and as a result the formula for happiness is best derived uniquely.

I recommended that we, as individuals, reverse engineer our happiness.

Almost everything can be reverse engineered.  Reverse engineering can be viewed as the process of analyzing a system by identifying the system’s components and their interrelationships.  If we are to reverse engineer happiness, then we need to identify and analyze the components of happiness and their interrelationships.  This is where the mere concept of happiness gets convoluted.  Happiness can have a variety meanings for different people and during different seasons of life.

I find an analogy helpful in understanding the concept of happiness and how it relates to the essential components that produce it.  Consider an automobile.

An automobile is manufactured from thousands of components for the purpose of motion – it can be slow or fast; powerful or quick; agile or comfortable.  However, the car’s purpose is to move from Point A to Point B, whatever those Points might be.  Often, a car will be specifically designed for a unique route of motion.

A drag race car is designed to go really fast in a straight line;
just don’t expect it to win a stock car race.

A stock car is designed to go really fast in circles;
just don’t expect it to win an off-road race.

A rock crawler is designed to go really fast (relatively)
up a steep pile of rocks;

just don’t expect it to win a pulling competition.

A truck puller is designed to go really fast
in a straight line with a lot of weight;

just don’t expect it to win a drag race.

And then there is the mini-van.
It is designed to get around town with the an entire family
as fast (relatively) as possible;

just don’t expect it to win any race
(unless you have the mini-van in this video).

Each vehicle will complete its prescribed course at a designed speed through the interrelation of the power source (engine) and drivetrain/body (the rest of the car).  All of these vehicles will fail to move if either of these components are missing.  However, the degree of movement is dependent upon how well these components come together.  It is possible for each vehicle to achieve 100% of its design speed if all the components work efficiently together.  Yet, its speed is dependent upon how it was designed to get from Point A to Point B.  If the original design for any of those components is compromised, then the design speed will suffer.

I like to think of happiness as similar to a car’s designed speed for a specific course.  Our happiness is depended upon the interrelation of our minds (the engine) and physical bodies (the rest of the car).  However, just like speed is not the purpose of a car, happiness is not the purpose of our lives.  Happiness is a relative quality achieved when we are living out the purpose of our lives to our created abilities.  It is the sensation of relative speed – the percentage of achieving our design speed; it is the result of all the components of our lives, mind and body, coming together to fulfill our purpose – what we were designed to do.

In reverse engineering happiness, I believe that the components most helpful to analyze are the following:




We will fail to experience happiness
if any of these components are missing or malfunctioning.

This is why I don’t believe that happiness can be formulaic.  These essential components for happiness and their interrelationships will be wonderfully unique for each individual.  My designed happiness will be different from yours.

The course of my life is different than yours.
The abilities of my body are different than yours.
The capabilities of my mind are different than yours.

I believe that when we get these components working in accordance to their unique design then the happiness that we all desire will simply result – will experience our created speed.  We can achieve happiness without it ever being the goal.

While I don’t think that happiness is formulaic, I will make some suggestions in the following posts regarding how to analyze the components and interrelationships of purpose, body, and mind.

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

JD Blom:

I recently stumbled upon Robert McKenzie’s blog and have really been enjoying it. He is a professor and chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College. I hope you will enjoy his perspective as much as I have.

Originally posted on Faith and History:

Tomorrow families all across America will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and some, at least, will link what they are doing to the Pilgrims’ celebration on the coast of Massachusetts in 1621. Although frequently embellished and sometimes caricatured, the story of the Pilgrims’ “First Thanksgiving” is rich with insight and inspiration. The Pilgrims were human, which means that they bore the imprint of the Fall with all its attendant sinful consequences: they were ethnocentric, sometimes judgmental and intolerant, prone to bickering, and tempted by mammon. They were also people of remarkable faith and fortitude—common folk of average abilities and below-average means who risked everything in the interest of their families and their community of faith.

The Pilgrims’ trial began with their voyage on the Mayflower, a 65-day-long ordeal in which 102 men, women, and children crossed the stormy Atlantic in a space the size of a city bus. Following that…

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I consider it a grave sin to listen to Christmas music prior to Thanksgiving.  However, the link to Joy to the World by Pentatonix was a temptation that I could not resist.

I confess a degree of self-righteousness as I listened to Pentatonix’s performance.  I piously wondered if they really believed what they were singing.  Consider the lyrics:

Joy to The world! the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonder wonders of His love

I don’t know what the members of Pentatonix believe.  I hope they believe that the Savior, the King, the Lord has come.  I hope they believe that He rules the world with truth and grace and that their hearts have prepared room for Christ.

They may believe or it may just be a song that will make them money during the Christmas season.

My self-righteousness was confronted with my hypocrisy.  I wondered how many times that I have sung Joy to the World without meaning it; how many times has a worship song emanated from my lungs and not my heart; how many times have I nodded along with a secular song, glorifying vileness…and meant it.

This Christmas season there will be an array of motivations that will not glorify God.  We will get the opportunity to see them in the market and pew.  I suggest that before we rant against those who are missing the “reason for the season”, we check to be sure that we truly mean what is coming out of our own mouths.

May this Christmas season be a personal season of worship to the glory of God – it is a matter of infinite importance.

“The Great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it: The Lord sees and judges the heart; he has no regard to outward forms of worship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly to God.”
Isaac Watts, (wrote Joy to the World in 1719)


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  Romans 15:13


My daughter’s birthday present was the DVD, “Inside Out”.  The animated movie is about the life and mind of a young girl named Riley.  The premise is that Riley’s emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger) live in the headquarters of her mind where they influence her actions and responses.  Every memory comes into Riley’s mind as an orb tinted by the emotion associated with the event.

At the beginning of the movie, Riley’s life has been predominately golden (happy).

Joy Orbs

Not to spoil the movie but the frequency of golden memory orbs decreases significantly when Riley and her family move to a new city.  The most poignant moment for me was Joy’s despair for Riley as she cried “I just wanted Riley to be happy” while Riley’s world seemingly crumbles.

I hate it when cartoons make me cry but this one hit a chord.

What parent has not made that same plea for their children?

I just want my son…my daughter, to have a happy life.

What person hasn’t felt that same desperation when faced with crumbling dreams and hopes, “I just want to be happy.”

I recently typed “How to Find Happiness” into Google, satisfying my curiosity as to what is currently being written on the topic.  Google returned a myriad of articles, which enumerated the necessary steps to achieve happiness.  I was struck by the definitiveness of the titles.  “Top 7 Tips for How to be Happy”; “10 Simple Ways to Find Happiness”; “3 Ways to Find Happiness Within You”.

The general impression given from my exploration was an implied assumption that happiness is formulaic.  How else can you put it into 3 easy steps?  I imagined visitors driven to these sites by their own emotion of Joy, searching for the elusive ingredients to answer the question “How can I be happy?”; desperate to achieve a golden tint in their lives.

I think it is a mistake to think that the formula
for my happiness will be the same as yours. 

We are unique humans.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  We have been born with different advantages and disadvantages.  We have known different successes and failures.   We are at different levels of maturity.  Few of the “how to be happy” lists seemed to account for these differences.  They provided very generic slogans like “recognize the love within you” or “motivate yourself to quit looking back”, which I doubt are very helpful to someone despondent in sadness.

Happiness is a God-given emotion.
There was a reason that he gave us happiness.
I believe that happiness in the form of joy (gladness) is available to every person.

I have seen too many people quietly losing their self, who they were…who they are…who they might be, as the years mechanically progress, producing orbs tinted by every color of the spectrum but gold.

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

I don’t have three guaranteed steps to achieve happiness.  I have yet to see a universal formula for happiness that will fit every person in every circumstance.  Rather, I believe that happiness is the product of a purposeful life.  Therefore, the formula for happiness is going to be derived uniquely.

For the currently happy, you may not care that much about how you came to be happy.

I am writing for the currently despairing; those who may have searched Google for more than curiosity.  To those, I want to give some tools that I have found helpful to reverse engineer my happiness.

You need to individually take the final product (happiness) that you intend to achieve and deconstruct it in order to discover the elements required to produce the desired end result.  This process of reverse engineering allows you to account for your current circumstances, health, strengths, and weaknesses in your unique joy producing formula.

In the next couple posts, I will give you what I think are the essentials to reverse engineering happiness. 

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for creating us to experience happiness.   Thank you for giving us gifts through which we can experience happiness.  Lord, help us to find our true selves and be all that you have called us to be.  Don’t let us quietly be lost in an ever progressing world.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

lewis“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose that you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
~ C.S. Lewis
In honor of C.S. Lewis , a British novelist, poet, academic, Christian apologist and one of my favorite authors, who died on this day in 1963.

November 22 in Literary History
C.S. Lewis Quotes

51DEwVfXCUL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_If you have read much from this blog, it will not come as a surprise to learn that I like allegory.  Therefore, it will be even less of a surprise to learn that I am a big fan of one of the most famous books of Christian allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

This book is testimony to the fact that while technology might change through the years, basic human nature has remained relatively constant from one generation to the next.  Pilgrim’s Progress was written in 1678 and has never been out of print.  The continued popularity of this story demonstrates that the challenges of Christians in 21st Century are still very similar to those of  the 17th Century, allegory protagonist, Christian.

I ran across a deal that I could not help but pass along.  Pilgrim’s Progress for FREE!  Every self-respecting Christian should own a copy of this classic and here is your chance to get it without having to spend any coin.

Here is the link:  Pilgrims Progress


Lifter of My Soul

JD Blom:

Tim Bell is a hymn writer and poet that I just stumbled across and wanted to share.

Originally posted on GraceSyllables:

Lifter of My Soul, I must,
Kneel before you once again;
Lead me into your presence,
Away from the path of sin.

Make me know your ways, I trust,
When my burdens seem too great,
You’ll guide me through the sorrow,
And onto the path of praise.

I’m waiting for you, Lord,
Come lift my soul once more,
For you’ve raised me to walk,
In the way I should go,
And one day I’ll never grieve,
No, I’ll run forever free,
With the Lifter of My Soul.

Lifter of My Soul, from dust,
As I long for what will be,
Teach me to stand, walk, and run,
On this path of mystery.

Lifter of My Soul, I must,
Kneel before you once again;
Lead me into your presence…

Behind the lines

Psalm 25 – Teach Me Your Paths

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