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What would you consider to be the optimal lifestyle? Do you wish you could be independently wealthy? Do you wish you could be a superhero? Perhaps your aspirations aren’t so lofty. Maybe all you hope for is to not be so extremely poor or lonely or hurt.
The simple life is an optimal way of living. Fabricating a disguise to hide who you are complicates life. Having too much or too little complicates life.
O God, I beg two favors from you;Proverbs 30:7-9 NLT
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
Optimal Living: Not Too Low
No one craves to be poor or depressed. But some people choose to default to an understimulating life. They’ve given up on trying to make life more interesting. Having too little to do leads to boredom. People who feel bored feel useless. They lack a sense of purpose.
If life becomes so easy that people no longer need to put any effort into it, why do they need to exist? They can live only to enjoy this life. They can consume but no longer need to produce anything of value.
A hard worker has plenty of food,Proverbs 12:11 NLT
but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
People who chase fantasies or retire early only to pursue self-indulgence have lost their lives. They are missing out on the abundant life God has for them (Matthew 10:39).
God has a plan for every person. Every believer has something to contribute to God’s plan to grow and strengthen His kingdom. If believers are bored, it’s because they are ignoring God’s call on their lives.
Optimal Living: Not Too High
If you won the lottery, you probably wouldn’t voluntarily give the money back. But sometimes too much of a good thing is dangerous.
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.1 Timothy 6:10 NLT
Having too much can be a massive distraction. If people are preoccupied with money, they can’t be focused on God.
The same applies to people who are too stressed. Too many earthly responsibilities can distract a person from pursuing God’s kingdom.
Optimal Living: Just Right
The person who is bored and the person who is overwhelmed are both blinded. They are under-challenged and over-challenged. When life becomes either too easy or too hard, people usually give up. The bored person says I have nothing worthwhile to do. And the overwhelmed person says It’s impossible to do anything worthwhile.
People who experience the optimal life have found the sweet spot between those extremes. To produce the maximum amount of enjoyment, tasks need to be, on average, challenging enough for us to wonder if we’re going to complete them, but not so challenging that we become convinced we will never be able to complete them.
God made you in such a way that you are healthiest and happiest when you desire to accomplish something that is somewhat of a stretch for you. This applies not only to work but also to play.
Soccer wouldn’t be much fun for the players or spectators if every shot went in. Where is the fun in that? It’s not exciting. Likewise, if no shot ever went in, what would be the point? After a predictable pattern emerged, no one would want to play (ever).
A mixture of unpredictability along with possibility maximizes life satisfaction.
If you think about it, that presents a clear picture of who God is. God is unpredictable but also full of potential. Whether we are in this life or the next, we can always look to God with wonder. What will we learn about Him next? What is He going to do next?
Life won’t be boring or overwhelming in heaven, it will be optimal.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.