April 14, 2024 - Episode #4935


Conductors: Mack Wilberg

Organist: Brian Mathias

Announcer: Lloyd D. Newell

“Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah”
Music: John Hughes
Lyrics: William Williams
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“All Things Bright and Beautiful”
Music: John Rutter
Lyrics: Cecil Frances Alexander

“Venite!” (Organ solo)
Music: John Leavitt

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Lyrics: Martin Jahn

“Tuya Es La Gloria” (To Thee Be The Glory)
Music and Lyrics: Traditional Latin American hymn
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“I Would Be True”
Music: Irish folk song
Lyrics: Howard Walter; add’l. lyrics by David Warner
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“O Come Ye Nations of the Earth”
Music: German hymn tune
Lyrics: David Warner

Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

The Spoken Word

Our Search for Soul-Satisfying Happiness

March 31, 2024

By Lloyd Newell

In our modern world, it’s so easy to indulge in pleasure. Our great-grandparents had to spend most waking moments with countless backbreaking chores just to survive, but today many of those tasks don’t burden us anymore. We are more free than ever before to seek entertainment, to do what we want to do, go where we want to go, and eat what we want to eat, all without a lot of effort.
You might think we would be happier than previous generations. Then why aren’t we?

Stanford psychiatrist Anna Lembke explains that our brains are constantly seeking to balance pleasure and discomfort. When it takes hard work to achieve pleasure, everything stays in balance. But when pleasure comes too easily, “our [brain] will work very hard to restore a level balance. … In our brain’s effort to compensate for too much pleasure,” it stops producing pleasure hormones.[1] In other words, when we chase pleasure too much, without purpose, without effort, without meaningful work, we end up feeling empty and unhappy.

In contrast, when we engage in more difficult but purposeful activities, we balance our brain’s chemistry. This is why we feel better after the strain of exercising a bit, solving a difficult puzzle, or talking with someone we don’t know. That kind of satisfying happiness often comes after we’ve paid the price of effort, concentration, and sacrifice.

One woman who went through a painful divorce felt so much heartache that she didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. But she had two toddlers who needed her, so she forced herself to do what she didn’t feel like doing. As she helped her children get dressed, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day, she almost always felt better. With purpose and effort, she found healing—even joy—in her daily work.

This actually isn’t a new concept. More than 2,000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ similarly taught that true happiness is not found in pursuing pleasure but rather by doing something worthwhile for someone else. He said, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”[2] Pleasure and work, joy and sacrifice are not enemies but companions in our search for soul-satisfying happiness.

[1] Anna Lembke, in Shankar Vedantam, “The Paradox of Pleasure,” Hidden Brain (podcast), hiddenbrain.org/podcast/the-paradox-of-pleasure.

[2] Matthew 16:25.