Battling Discontentment

10:09 AMHeather

The Pursuit of Happyness isn’t just a hit movie starring Will Smith. It’s a buzz phrase that could well describe the frenzy of American life. We are a culture focused on being discontent. Yes, I said that we are a society that obsesses about being discontent. No greater proof of this exists than the very definition of “joy” that I found on the website for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Several definitions are listed, but the first one states, “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” If the very definition of joy depends on our well-being, successes, good fortunes, and possessions — all of which are rather fleeting — then it is no wonder we live in a state of discontent. I was shocked to see that the almighty advertising dollar has even impacted the definition of joy. The very basis of advertising is to make you feel discontent. The goal is to convince you that what you have isn’t enough, where you live isn’t big enough, what you drive isn’t new enough, and where you shop or eat isn’t good enough.

Watch any segment of Entertainment Tonight, or E! News — or just check out at the grocery store — and you are bombarded with images of people the world would say seem to fit this definition for “joy” yet their lives are unraveling. Look at Britney Spears. She had great success, good fortune, many possessions, and for a time, she seemed to be enjoying her well-being. Yet, over the past few years, we have seen her joy extinguished, as she plummets with the consequences of her poor choices. Now, we have learned that she has lost custody of her children. Joy must be something far from her emotions these days, and the world’s definition of joy is completely inaccurate.

How do we avoid the pitfall of discontent that swallows so many people in our culture? Consider this commentary from my Women of Faith NIV Study Bible about the book of Philippians: “Paul’s letter to the Philippians radiates with reasons to be thankful, joyful and contented … There’s always room for joy in a believer’s heart. If we fill our hearts with Jesus and a desire for his attitudes of thankfulness, humility and contentment, nothing will be able to wipe out our joy.”

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