I don’t have a reference for this since it was posted by someone I know and she didn’t/wouldn’t openly share the name of the book it was from.  I was super concerned after reading it, but I was having trouble articulating exactly why.

Check it out:

3. Do Things You Love

When you constantly deny yourself the people, food, things, and experiences that make you feel the most alive, that sends a pretty lousy message home. Look at your life and see where you’re letting yourself down If you hear yourself saying things like “I love going out to see live music! I can’t remember the last time I did it,” make time.

We’re all busy, but it’s the people who make enjoying their lives a priority who, um, enjoy their lives. Right now, there are thousands of people all over the world at yoga retreats overlooking the ocean, dancing their booties off at outdoor music festivals or whooping it up on the Disney Cruise of their dreams. Really listen to how you speak and pay attention to what you do, and make a conscious effort to increase your joy in whatever capacity you can. It can be anything from spending a weekday afternoon with a great friend to quitting your hateful job to buying a pair of completely impractical but completely awesome new shoes to going on a surf vacation in Costa Rica. It’s about being proactive about creating a life you love instead of meekly living the one you think you’re stuck with. Give yourself the gift of a joyous life while you’re still among the living.

I’ve read it a number of times now, and I think my biggest issue is that there are so many half truths laced into this whole philosophy of life.  Do I have a problem with being happy?  No!!!  I love to laugh.  (picture me floating and having a tea party with friends on the ceiling) (Mary Poppins for those of you who don’t get the reference)  I love to be happy and to help other people be happy to.  I like to make other people laugh and I always hope they are enjoying themselves when we’re together.  I love to host events or parties where people have fun.

Why would this excerpt concern me then?  I guess the first half truth is that people who make enjoying their life a priority enjoy their lives.  I know a lot of people who have set out to please themselves and find happiness who have found at the end that everything they’ve been chasing has been nothing but grasping at the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Futility of Pleasure and Possessions

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. 11 Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

The second half truth is that pleasing yourself will increase your joy and happiness. I don’t know if it’s possible to find complete joy without doing what you were created for.  Joy will come when you find out what God created you for.  We have all heard the generalities of being created to worship or to spread the gospel, but I mean beyond that.  finding what He has created you for will bring lasting joy, not a yoga class or a cruise.

If we keep searching for moments to bring us happiness and joy, then when those moments pass, where will we be left?  We’ll be searching for the next moment.  I’ve had quite a few moments lately where I’ve looked around at the mission God has given me here in Michigan, the family he has given me, and the home, friends, and people I work with and I’ve realized just how content I am with life.  I’ve tried to figure out which of these things bring that feeling most.  I have figured out that being the Husband God has called me to be makes me feel that way.  Being the Father God has called me to be makes me feel that way.  Being the minister God has called me to be brings that feeling.  Overall, following God’s plan for my life brings me the most joy, peace, contentment, and love that I could ever imagine.  I’ve tried to gain these things on my own, but only when I found God’s plan for these different areas in my life did I find true Joy.  Am I happy?  Yes! Is it based on the things I’ve found and attained on my own?  No!  Only when I found the plan my Creator had for me did I find what I couldn’t get by making “enjoying my life a priority.”