My assignment for an upcoming lecture is to discuss the difference between how our world views happiness and what the Bible says about joy. While preparing for the assignment I ran across the following thoughts in USA Today.
According to results from newly published research, after age 50, daily stress and worry take a dive and daily happiness increases. The results were based on a Gallup phone survey of 340,847 adults, and published online in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Research shows that young adults experience more negative emotions more frequently than those who are older. Negative emotions, such as stress and anger, are similar in that they consistently decline with age, but worry holds steady until around 50, when it sharply drops.
This Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was compiled in 2008 as the first year of a 25-year effort to measure well-being in the U.S.A. It asked adult respondents about various emotions, such as enjoyment, happiness, stress, worry, anger and sadness, and asked them to describe how they felt "yesterday."
"After 50 is when things start dropping off dramatically in terms of worry and stress. That's the turning point in some ways, but it's not a magic number in terms of everything that's better," says study co-author Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. He is also a senior scientist with Gallup. Stress is "constantly dropping, but the curve gets much steeper after age 50," he says.
For those of us who are over the half-century mark (ouch, that hurts), this is some pretty good news. However, there is some even better news, for everyone, regardless of age.
Jesus came into this world to give everyone a way to remove all stress and worry from our lives. He came to give us the Abundant life (John 10:10). The Lord proclaimed the following words to all of His followers. “...Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
The Apostle Paul encourages us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) We know what the Word says, but knowing what it says and doing it are sometimes miles apart.
What are some practical ways we can alleviate worry from our lives.
Spend time in prayer. Take your concerns, your fears, your worries to the Lord. Peter says, “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:8) There is no one who is more equipped to hear our concerns than the Lord.
Meditate on the Word. When we can replace worries and cares with the Word of God we will fill our hearts with joy. David said that those who observe the testimonies of God are happy (Psalm 119:2), and that we should delight in the commandments of God (Psalm 119:47).
Surround yourself with good, positive people. In God’s family we should work to encourage one another. We should help each other with burdens and cares (Galatians 6:1-2).
It seems to me, at least, that the key difference between the way the world views happiness and the kind of joy that God gives is that one is primarily external, while the other is primarily internal.
In our world happiness is largely determined by how we look, where we live, what we drive, etc. In God’s view, joy is determined by what is in our hearts.
Dear Father, may our hearts and lives be filled with joy. The joy that we receive by knowing You. The joy that comes to us through Jesus. Help us, dear God, to encourage those around us to come to know Your joy.