David Cowles

Oct 4, 2021

Joy is what we experience when we live according to God’s Will, Natural Law or Transcendental Ethics (take your pick – whatever you’re comfortable with – they all amount to the same thing in the end). Joy is very different from happiness, contentment, peacefulness, etc. These later qualities pertain solely to our own internal state of mind; they imply nothing about the outside world or our relationship to it.

Joy is what we experience when we live according to God’s Will, Natural Law or Transcendental Ethics (take your pick – whatever you’re comfortable with – they all amount to the same thing in the end). Joy is very different from happiness, contentment, peacefulness, etc. These later qualities pertain solely to our own internal state of mind; they imply nothing about the outside world or our relationship to it.


Joy, on the other hand, is centered in our relationship with others (or “the other”). That relationship is what God’s Will, Natural Law and Transcendental Ethics are all about. Joy cannot come from exploiting other humans, mistreating animals, destroying plant life or misusing the inanimate objects in our environment. (Perhaps happiness can…but not joy!)


Joy can only happen for us to the extent that we are helping other entities experience joy for themselves. Joy, not mere happiness, is our proper goal in life and therefore our purpose in life can only be described as “sowing joy for others in the world around us”. Of course, we cannot ‘make’ an entity experience joy for itself…but we can help the process by the way we relate to that entity. Joy is contagious! Our joy can help create pre-conditions conducive to others’ joy.

From this, it is also evident that a lack of joy can also be contagious. When we exploit, mistreat, destroy or misuse others we inhibit others’ experience of joy. All this puts the Bible’s ‘Great Commandment’ in a new light:


“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22: 35-40 et al)


Loving the Lord is living in accordance with God’s Will, etc. Loving your neighbor is a pre-condition for your own joy and for sowing joy in the world.

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