The Joy Project is a twelve-month experiment aimed at:
- Recognizing the difference between the American pursuit of empty happiness and the Biblical pursuit of true, meaningful joy.
- Practicing the disciplines and attitudes indicated in the Bible as necessary for cultivating the joy we long to experience.
- Overcoming the frustrating obstacles to experiencing joy encountered frequently in our daily living.
- Understanding the complicated (and often confusing) coexistence between joy and suffering.
- Experiencing authentic, enduring, life-changing joy in our lives, no matter our circumstances or situations.
What is The Joy Project?
Inspired by a year spent investigating the Positive Psychology movement, Lorie, a professional counselor, found herself once again exploring the notion of living a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life. As someone who had struggled on and off with depression and anxiety throughout her entire life, the notion of being able to finally attain “happiness” was both intriguing and appealing.
A relatively new field which focuses on a quality-of-life approach to working with people, rather than focusing on the mere attainment of a “baseline” level of mental, emotional, and spiritual health, Positive Psychology seemed to Lorie to be largely (though not entirely) compatible with her biblical beliefs and value systems. With its focus on positive emotion, engagement, meaning, accomplishment, and personal relationships as the core elements contributing to our level of well-being, it was easy to find biblical correlations for several of the practices and attitudes espoused by its many proponents.
But as Lorie began digging into some of the foundational literature of the movement and some of the popular literature that sprung up surrounding it (such as The New York Time’s Bestseller The Happiness Project), she began to feel unsettled and could not determine why. Though she was both inspired and intrigued by Gretchen Rubin’s wildly successful experiment to see if she could “be happier” by adopting several new habits, hobbies, and resolutions over the course of a year, there was something that simply did not sit right in her spirit as she continued to consider the idea.
At the heart of Lorie’s struggle was the question as to whether or not such a pursuit, though interesting and appealing, was actually appropriate and biblical for a Christian. If she was going to make resolutions, she reasoned, she wanted them to MATTER beyond her own self-centered life and to fulfill the ultimate goal of shaping her more into the image of Jesus, drawing her closer to the heart of God in the process.
After much thought and prayer, she finally determined she could not reconcile the pursuit of happiness with a faith that called for such things as death to self, submission, and self-denial. This conclusion was followed by a great deal of time spent questioning exactly what was and was not biblical about the idea of pursuing a greater level of personal happiness, and then considering what the biblical counterpart would be to this secular notion. In the end, Lorie decided that setting out to experience the “joy of the Lord” would be a much more worthy and Christ-honoring endeavor.
This conclusion led Lorie to the idea of conducting an experiment of her own. She combed through the Word for references to joy, and assembled a rough list of 12 disciplines that were indicated in scripture to promote or create joy in our lives. She then created a plan to embark on a year-long “Joy Project,” putting one new discipline into place each month over the course of the next twelve months.
How do I participate?
As Lorie began sharing the idea with several of her friends, she found a very vibrant common thread woven throughout their responses.
“I need something like that! Can I participate, too?”
“That sounds like a great thing to do as a group!”
“That sounds awesome! How can I get in on that?”
And thus the idea of www.JoinTheJoyProject.com was born.
Each month for the next year, we will put into practice a new discipline, taken from what the scriptures tell us about joy, and discuss, via this blog, both the process and its effects. We will define joy, reflect on the scriptures that speak of joy, talk about the difference between joy and happiness, learn about the practice of spiritual disciplines, and encourage one another in our pursuit of joy.
Lorie will introduce the next discipline at the beginning of each month, share suggestions as to how we can put each discipline into practice, confront “joy-stealers” and barriers to joy we may experience along the way, and invite you in to her own journey as she explores the impact of these practices in her own life from the perspective of one who has struggled with depression.
As month by month we practice what the Bible has to say about experiencing joy, Lorie believes we will ultimately discover there is much, much more to be had in this life than the mere pursuit of happiness.
A few comments about the process:
- You are welcome to join us at ANY TIME during the course of the year. There is no such thing as being “too late” to pursue joy!
- The goal of the blog is to create an interactive community of people all pursuing the same direction, for the purpose of discussion and support. Please feel free to dialogue via the commenting function.
- The easiest way to “join” is to subscribe to this blog, which can be done in a number of ways. You can subscribe to the RSS feed, receive it in your email, “like” Lorie Kaufman Rees on Facebook and receive the posts in your newsfeed, or follow Lorie on Twitter. This will bring the discussion straight to you in the format through which you wish to receive it!
- If you enjoy what we’re doing and find it to be of value, please feel free to invite others to join us! This is not a closed project—the more the merrier!