Oftentimes when people hear the term Christian, the first words that come to mind are proud, judgmental, hypocritical or intolerant. But what if Christians became synonymous with another word – joy! Mental health experts say depression is about 10 times more common in our day than it was in the 1960's even though we're a lot richer and better educated. Unfortunately, we’re just richer, smarter, sad people. In fact, the average age for the onset of depression in 1960 was 29-1/2. Today it's 14-1/2. Happiness is being studied by social science and written about more than ever before, but we're actually going to root this series in the book of Philippians. Joy is the predominant theme Paul writes about in this little book despite the fact that he actually writes it while sitting in a prison cell. He is in chains, facing a world of trouble, yet he can’t stop talking about joy.
As we will see in this series, the pursuit of happiness and the presence of joy are two vastly different things. In simple terms, the core of what we will look at in this study centers around the “happiness paradox,” which says, “You will never be happy if the ultimate goal of your life is for you to be happy.” Happiness is one of those things that comes only as a byproduct when we're pursuing something else, something bigger, or something better. There is, it turns out, something that's way more important and more significant and better than the happy life, and that's what might be called the meaningful life.