Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’


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?


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. 


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.


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



March 17, 2014

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”  Philippians 3:17

National Christian Forensics and Communication...

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have spent the last three days, five if you count travel, with my family in Richland, Washington for the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), Tri-Windy Speech and Debate tournament.  My son competed in two speech categories and Lincoln- Douglas debate.  However, I think that I was more consumed with this tournament than he was.

These tournaments rely upon community members to be judges for the students.  Parents are used to fill in the judging gaps as necessary.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of gaps to fill at this tournament, so I spent a lot of time judging.  I was responsible for determining winners and losers of debates.  I had to place speakers in a ranking order from 1 to 7 or 8.  I had to have opinions.  I had to have preferences.  I had to judge and reveal my conclusions.

After a speech or debate, I was thanked by each competitor for giving my time to come and be a judge for them.  They welcomed being judged.  While I was there for them, I don’t know if these competitors grasp how much they are impacting the judges that sit before them.  Those who judge cannot help but be influenced by those they are judging.

I am two days removed from the competition but I am still lingering over the spoken words from that tournament:

I am still savoring the tears of compassion elicited by words spoken with a quiet, confident, spirit.

I am still smiling in remembrance of the precious lisp of a voice given to a cricket who just wanted to be a butterfly (I Wish I Were a Butterfly).

I am still feeling the empathy that came from a delicate portrayal of mental illness. (The Yellow Wallpaper)

I am still appreciating how two competitors made a caterpillar come to life.  (Alice in Wonderland)

I am still awakened to the reality of a child soldier. (War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story)

I am still relishing the tears of laughter from the creativity of an interpretation of  Dr. Seuss.

I am still encouraged by the student who endured when his memory failed him.  He fought through to the end with courage greater than the comic-book characters he was portraying.

This tournament was ostensibly about the competitors.  However, there is always so much more happening when an individual embraces judgment.  The judged will inevitably influence the judge.  These competitors are learning the skills of the spoken word.  These are skills that will assist them in influencing their world for the rest of their lives.  However, that influence is not just in the future – I was influenced by their words.  These speech and debate tournaments are less about the competitors than they may realize.  These competitors are influencing the judging adults that sit before them now because of their willingness to be judged.

If they were not willing to be judged,
they would never influence these adults.

Georg Gsell. "The Apostle Paul."

We live in a world resistant to judging.  Often, we will try to protect ourselves from judgmental eyes.  However, we will never influence a world without embracing judgment.  When Paul challenged us to imitate him, he was opening himself up to judgment.  We form opinions about Paul’s life because of his challenge; we have to determine if his example is worthy of following.  Paul embraced the judgment of others and profoundly influenced the world.  If Paul had worried about judgment, he would never have interacted with the world.  He would never have spoken publicly.  He would never have written letters.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul had a profound influence over the world, because he was willing to be judged.

The world watches all of us.
We can either scorn their judgmental opinions or
we can embrace the opportunity to influence.

Going out into the world is a declaration of our willingness to subject our lives to the judgment of the world.

Are you willing to allow your words to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your decisions to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your beliefs to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your life to be judged?

It is not about us; it is about influencing those who judge.   The willingness of those who are willing to be judged are an example to me:

Judge the words I speak;
Judge the words I write;
Judge how I conduct business;
Judge how I have chosen to raise my family;
Judge my faith.

I want to live a life that influences my world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, I embrace the judgment of those who watch.  I embrace their judgment because I know that they will be influenced while they evaluate me.  May we all be willing to stand before the judging eyes of our world so that we may be profound influences upon those who are watching and listening.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my fear of other people’s judgment.  Forgive me for relinquishing opportunities to influence this world because I am afraid of a negative reaction.  Help me to welcome the evaluation of my life; use my life to influence the world around me.  Lord, I pray that you will draw others to your Son, Jesus Christ, through the influence that comes from a willingness to be judged.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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