By Chris Stefanick
Chris Stefanick is a speaker, author, and television host. His life’s mission, and that of his nonprofit organization, Real Life Catholic, is to help people find and live the lives they were made for in Jesus Christ and his Church. He is the author of Living Joy: 9 Rules to Help You Rediscover and Live Joy Every Day.
You want real happiness, not just a passing “good mood.” And your desire for joy is driving everything else you’ve ever looked for in life. In fact, we only want other things because we all want that one thing. If you’re looking for money, it’s because you think money will give you joy. If you want success, it’s because you think success will give you joy. If you want to make an impact in the world, if you want your kids to be stable, if you want a great marriage, or if you want a yacht docked on Kauai with your own personal bartender to mix your martinis (I hope you get that, and I hope that you invite me over), it’s all for one reason. You want to be happy. You want joy.
How did I know that? Because I’m a mind reader. And we all have basically the same “stuff” between our ears. The human brain hasn’t changed much for a few hundred thousand years. And the human spirit hasn’t veered from that one longing since we carved our dreams of happy hunts on cave walls and left our handprints for future generations—united in the same longing across time—to find. (High five, caveman.)
We’re all looking for joy. And that longing cuts across ages, cultures, and religions. Aristotle taught that happiness is the end—the “telos”—behind everything we do. The Dalai Lama said, “We 7 billion human beings—emotionally, mentally, physically—are the same. Everyone wants a joyful life.”2 St. Pope John Paul II, when he was eighty-two years old, talking to hundreds of thousands of young people in Toronto, reached across generations with the words, “Dear young people . . . I have felt the deep longing that beats within your hearts: you want to be happy!”
In the words of Blaise Pascal, “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. . . . The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” That’s an extreme thing to ponder, that even when a man does something as misguided and tragic as putting his head in a noose, what hereally wants is to escape pain so that he can find happiness.
We’re all looking for joy. Unmovable, heavenly, eternal joy. Not when we’re dead. Now. Joy is success. Accomplishment without joy is total failure.
And not only does joy give meaning to every milestone; joy gives you the strength to build the life you were made for as you strive to hit those milestones. That’s right: joy is power.
Simply put, misery is contagious and, if unchecked, ultimately leads to war. Joy is equally contagious and leads to a better world . . . the kind that contented people naturally create.
Given all of the above, we can’t afford to be passive recipients of our passing moods, driven through life by how we “feel” in the moment. There’s an absolute urgency to work on your joy. Joy is strength. Joymust be your strength.
The devil also knows that joy is strength, and he wants you to be weak. That’s why so many of the battles in the spiritual life, if you pay attention, are simply the devil trying to rob you of your joy. You need to know exactly how to win that daily battle because your family, coworkers, church, friends, and the world need you to!
That’s why I’ve written a new book, Living Joy: 9 Rules to Help You Rediscover and Live Joy Every Day. This book spells out nine rules to help you claim the joy and the life you were made for. And they’re all simple. Some might say “stupidly simple.” (I prefer brilliantly simple!) Anyone can overcomplicate things. You do it to yourself all the time. So do I. Simplicity takes hard work. But the difference between an amazing life and an okay life is whether or not we actually stick to those stupidly simple things that weknow make life amazing.
This book isn’t meant to burden you with complex and time-consuming solutions. These are all small changes. But if you’ve ever shot a rifle, you know that a very small change in your direction has a radical impact on your destination. If a target is two hundred yards away and you shift your aim a few inches, you’ll miss it altogether.
If you start living by these simple rules, you’ll hit your mark over the course of your life. If you don’t, you’ll miss it.
Listen, it doesn’t matter where you’re starting from. I don’t care if you feel like your life is in shambles. God believes in you, and so do I. All that matters is that you begin the journey toward joy. If you do that, you can and will hit the target of your better life.
You may have heard the joke about the guy who asked for directions and was told, “You can’t get there from here.” That’s funny because it’s never true. You can get to any point B from literally any point A on earth. Your location is not an obstacle to where God wants to bring you if you start changing your direction now. You can always begin to live the life you were made for. Your current location does not impact your destination.
On a personal note, I’m so passionate to take this journey with you because of what I’ve seen these nine rules do for me and for so many others. Shifting my focus from the complex issues of everyday life to following these simple rules has changed my life, and, ironically, has helped me tackle all the issues life throws at me more effectively too. Your problems might be complicated. This book isn’t about your problems. Just simple solutions.
In short: These nine rules have changed my life for the better. They’ll change yours too.
Living Joy is available now. I recommend it as a great tool for Advent, in particular.
Living Joy: 9 Rules to Help You Rediscover and Live Joy Every Day equips you with the wisdom you need to experience joy to the fullest. With evidence, experience, and common sense, Chris Stefanick presents nine rules that will empower you to overcome the obstacles that are keeping you from unspeakable joy.