Monday, February 12, 2024

A Search For Happiness


I found it a bit ironic that these two books are the ones I grabbed from my stash to read next. I usually have two going at a time. One I read after my morning quiet time that is typically more heady or soul-sifting and then one leisure read while I settle down for the night.

I'm going to be completely honest. I HATE giving bad reviews, but this book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project was not my favorite at all. In fact, the last 1/3 of the book became a skim-read as I just needed to get through it. I'm not sure if it is because of the fact that it was coupled with this other book I was reading or not, but I found it hard to reconcile a focus of finding this self-gratifying illusion of happiness. The whole preface of the book was to break the year into month-long resolutions to hopefully find more overall happiness. It was an interesting experiment and you can see the things that filled the author and the things that drained her. But with each new month's goals she would say the things that would "boost" happiness or not. But that is the whole thing about happiness. It is fleeting and circumstantial and often doesn't last from one moment to the next. Or from one experience too the next. It isn't rooted in anything else but feelings and self. And that is literally what our lives naturally gravitate toward anyway. BUT, the books purpose was satisfied through the documentation of her experiment so it did what the author set out to do. After it was all said and done she said she did feel happier after that year and I feel like her biggest contribution to her own happiness was learning self-control. The one take-away I had was the reminder to live a present life and try to settle into those little things that do bring happiness and joy.

On the other hand,  Jen Othman's, Enough About Me was a cry for us to wake up to the selfish culture we find ourselves currently settling into and building homes in. A call for us to see the lies that we are enough and that we can write our own destinies. We are training our emotional pallets to "eat a steady diet of the praise of others." But the truth is, "The truth of the gospel is meant to transform us. And if it does not, then we do not really believe. The gospel has something to say about how we spend our time, where we spend our money, the goals we pursue, the careers we seek, the hobbies we enjoy the food we eat-everything. The gospel says we are not our own."

"We must be intentional about where our hearts wander, because a wandering heart has disordered loves.  It naturally gravitates toward what is seen, what is instant what is gratifying right now." And "it seems that one area of self-control in my life leads to further self-control in the other areas. And when I go out-of-bounds in one place, I go out-of-bounds elsewhere."

Bonhoeffer said: "Discipleship therefore means a...funeral of our own independence." And this is not a popular message. But man is it something worth fighting for!

One more quote from the book, but actually a quote from D.A.Carson says:

"People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."       Ouch!

This was an excellent book to recalibrate us and help us look up. 

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