Coping Joyfully in a Hectic World

MOST PEOPLE COPE WITH THE PRESSURES OF LIFE, BUT FEW COPE JOYFULLY. THAT TAKES A SPECIAL KIND OF WISDOM.

ACKNOWLEDGING this, the book The 24-Hour Society says: “We need to develop the wisdom to protect human needs and nature in the technological world we have created.”

Happily, practical wisdom is readily available in the most widely distributed book in the world—God’s Word, the Bible. Inspired by the One who understands human needs and nature perfectly, the Bible contains tried-and-tested principles. Applying these principles can help you to gain more  control over your life, giving you at least a measure of joy as you cope in today’s hectic world.—Isaiah 48:18; 2 Timothy 3:16.

These principles address three main areas. First, they point out where you can do some judicious pruning. Second, they can help you set sound priorities. Third, they provide a spiritual perspective on life that is far superior to a purely secular viewpoint. Let us now consider these three areas.

Keep Life Simple and Uncluttered

Imagine that you are going camping for a few days. You want to be comfortable, so you take along a large tent with every conceivable accessory. You also take a trailer loaded with furniture, cooking equipment, a freezer, a portable generator, lights, a TV, and many other items, including food. However, setting up all these things takes you many hours! Then, at the end of your short vacation, you take as much time packing up again—not to mention stowing everything away at home. Looking back, you realize that you did not have enough time to enjoy camping! You wonder whether it was worth all the effort.

For millions of people today, life itself is a little like that camping trip. They spend an inordinate amount of time obtaining and maintaining the endless number of material things this world would have us believe we need in order to be happy. In contrast, Jesus Christ said: “Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) Yes, quality of life is not measured in terms of material wealth. In fact, riches often add to life’s stresses and anxieties. “The plenty belonging to the rich one is not permitting him to sleep,” says Ecclesiastes 5:12.

So take a good look at each of your possessions, and ask yourself, ‘Is this thing really needed, or is it clutter? Does it add to the quality of my life, or does it steal valuable time?’ The introduction to the book Why Am I So Tired?, by Leonie McMahon, observes:  “The invention of various appliances, intended to take the drudgery out of housework, has resulted in the housewife having to take up an outside job, in order to buy them and pay for their maintenance.”

When you simplify your life, you make more time for family, friends, and yourself. Such time is vital to your happiness. Do not be like those who discover too late in life that friends and family are far more important—and interesting—than money and things. Only people can love you. Bank accounts, stock portfolios, computers, television sets, and other gadgets, though they may have their place, are the husk of life, not its kernel. Those who give such things their priority cheapen their lives and eventually become dissatisfied or even bitter.—1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Manage Time and Set Priorities

In some respects managing time is like balancing a financial budget. If you try to squeeze too many things into the limited hours you have available, you are not living within your means timewise. Such a life-style inevitably leads to frustration, stress, and weariness. So learn to set priorities.

First, determine what the more important things are, and assign  sufficient time to these. For Christians, spiritual pursuits always have top priority. (Matthew 6:31-34) If important matters are rushed or handled superficially, serious problems often follow. Hence, you may need to cull out anything that consumes time but yields poor returns.

In setting priorities, take into account your need for a little solitude—time for constructive meditation and for recharging your own batteries. “Meaningful alonetime,” says the journal Psychology Today, is “a necessary tonic in today’s rapid-fire world. . . . Alonetime is fuel for life.” People who are too busy to meditate can become superficial in their attitude toward life.

Modesty and Spirituality

Modesty and spirituality are two of the best assets you could possibly have when it comes to living a happy, balanced life. Modesty is important because it helps you to avoid taking on unrealistic work loads and responsibilities. If you are modest, you will know when to say no to overtime work or other activities that would encroach on something more important. Modest people are not envious of what others have and do; hence, they tend to be more content. Genuine modesty, in turn, is a facet of spirituality, another vital key to gaining more control over our lives.—Micah 6:8; 1 John 2:15-17.

Spirituality based on accurate knowledge of the Bible makes you a more discerning and perceptive person—someone who is not fooled by cheap, secular definitions of success. You take to heart the sage advice of 1 Corinthians 7:31: “[Let] those making use of the world [be] as those not using it to the full; for the scene of this world is changing.” Christians are “making use of the world” when providing materially for themselves and their families, but they do not let this world swallow them up. They know that it offers no real security, that soon it will be completely done away with, and that real success—security and everlasting life on a paradise earth—depends on a person’s standing with God. (Psalm 1:1-3; 37:11, 29) So heed Jesus’ admonition, and invest wisely by storing up “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”—Matthew 6:20.

Avoid Anxiety and Find True Peace

As this present system comes to its close, stress and demands on your time will no doubt increase. How important, therefore, that you strive to apply the Bible’s counsel: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” Such peace is beyond the reach of anyone of a purely secular bent who sees no value in prayer.—Philippians 4:6, 7.

Yet, Jehovah will do even more than give you peace of mind. He will help you carry your load of responsibility every day if you “throw all your anxiety upon him.” (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 68:19) It is therefore wise to listen to God each day by reading a portion of his Word. Who could possibly give you better advice than your Creator? (Psalm 119:99, 100, 105) Yes, experience has shown that those who put God in the center of their life are greatly helped to cope joyfully in today’s hectic world.—Proverbs 1:33; 3:5, 6.

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Set priorities, including filling your need for solitude and spirituality

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Can you simplify and unclutter your life?

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Do you give priority to things or to people?