Independent Country

James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Friday, September 22, 2023

God Just Wants to Have Fun

Person having fun. (Photo: ekstrazabawki; Creative Commons 4.0)

This is a talk I gave at Unity Lincoln (Nebraska) on September 17, 2023. 

Good morning!

Two weeks ago, the singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett passed away. On my Facebook feed, I read a tribute from his longtime friend James Taylor. James called Jimmy  "A model of how to enjoy the great gift of being alive."

That statement reminds me of Alan Watts. Watts was a 20th-century English writer, speaker, and personality who helped bring Eastern philosophy into the American mainstream. And he said one of my favorite things ever. I quote:

"The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves."

What I appreciate about Watts's quote is that it takes the pressure off. We are not here to meet other people's expectations of us, and we are not here to please some deity in the sky. We don't need to leave a mark that will be remembered generations from now. I don't have to make the world a better place. And even if I tried, "a better place" according to whom? Wars have been fought, and are still being fought, where each side genuinely believed they were making the world a better place.

Nobody has to do anything. Life is NOT a series of homework assignments. Just be alive.

That said, what everyone wants is happiness. 

Many years ago I read a definition of happiness by the self-help and business writer 

Robert Ringer. I'm not saying I agree with everything I've read from him. But I appreciate how he dispensed with all the philosophical jargon and wrote that what he means by happiness is "feeling good."

And there it is: a very self-evident truth. I don't have to explain what it means to feel good. And when we do feel good, we just want to feel better. 

"I feel good about my life, except for this lingering pain when I stubbed my toe." So you want to feel better.

"I feel good about my life, except for my strained relationship with my co-worker." That means you want to feel better.

"I've been to every Major League ballpark except San Diego's." 

That doesn't mean, "If only I make it to San Diego, then I'd be happy." You probably are happy. It means, "I'd be even happier when I get to San Diego."

"My life is perfect, but I'm embarrassed that I've never seen the movie Casablanca." Well, there you go.

There's always something. Life doesn't require any homework assignments because we make our own. We want to feel good, and when we feel good, we want the next thing to help make us feel even better. The next healing, the next project, the next piece of knowledge, the next experience to add to our memories.

In this way, everyone is on a spiritual quest. Not just the people in this building, not just the people watching. But also people who hardly ever think about spiritual matters at all. Because what is God, but goodness, and what is goodness, but a feeling?

Everyone who wants to feel good wants to experience God, whether they realize it or not.

As Psalm 107 verse 1 says, "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"1 John 4 verse16 says God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

So, the Lord is good, and God is love. 

The Universal Foundation for Better Living was founded in 1974 by the Reverend Dr. Johnnie Coleman. Its first statement of faith says: "WE BELIEVE that it is God’s will that every individual on the face of this earth should live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life."

What do you want for your children, but that they live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life?

What do you want for your partner? The rest of your family? Your friends? What does it mean to love them, if not that you desire that they live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life?"

What if you had a falling out with someone? You could still say about an ex: "I wish her the best."

What does that mean? That just because you parted ways doesn't mean you want her to suffer. You could still love her in the sense that you desire that she has a "healthy, happy, and prosperous life."

What do you want for the person you sometimes see in the elevator at work? Or the cashier at the store? You don't know them, but do you not love them? Do you want them to feel bad, or to feel good?

When you say "Have a good day" and you mean it, you are God in action.

Again, no external God assigned you homework. Your love for yourself, your desire to feel good, and your love for others, your desire that they feel good, is really all that it means to be alive. 

So, God is love, and love is the desire that we enjoy life. So God, through us, just wants to have fun.

But sometimes we might get caught up on this crazy little idea called love.

In John 13 verses 34-35, Jesus says:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." 

Jesus also said to love our neighbor as ourself so we set up charities to help our neighbors and hope that means we're pleasing Jesus. We may have been conditioned to believe that love means unwilling sacrifices and obligations. I don't know about you, but it seems to me that 2,000 years of Christian tradition has made "love your neighbor" a command, kind of like "go to school"  when you were a kid or "pay your taxes" as an adult.

But "love your neighbor" is just an extension of having fun.

To love an ice cream cone is to enjoy it. In those few minutes of eating it, you're having a grand old fun time. And it's because you appreciate it!

To love something is to appreciate it, to find something enjoyable or fun about it.

You could watch a movie and say, "Well, the plot was full of holes but the acting and music were great." You found things to appreciate, to enjoy, to love about the movie.

To love someone is to appreciate something about them. Maybe more than one thing, maybe everything about them, but at least something.  A person might be difficult sometimes, but also makes you laugh. Somebody else might have quirks you find distracting, but they also produce brilliant pieces of art or is a great chef. You might think a famous athlete is selfish,  but he can score 40 points in an NBA playoff game if he has to, and you admire his talent and the work he put in to be that good. Sometimes you might not know someone at all but they're drop-dead gorgeous. You appreciate having seen that beauty enter your life. 


Find out what it is that you love, that you appreciate, about another person. Forgive all the things you don't love, because we're not here to judge. We're here to enjoy life, to have fun with each other.

There is another word for appreciation, and that is gratitude.

Gratitude is a go-to piece of advice in spirituality, conventional religion, self-help books, and psychology. It's popular advice because it's great advice!

But, as with love, it sometimes has come across as an obligation to express gratitude. 

When things aren't going so well, count your blessings because others are even worse off.  

Also, gratitude has sometimes been advertised almost as a formula. Once you start listing the good things in your life, you will raise your vibration, the universe will be drawn to that vibration, and then you will receive more blessings.

Well, maybe. I could list dozens of things I'm grateful for, things I know I'd be worse off without. But it's not the length of the list. It's how you feel about each thing.

If I'm in despair I make a gratitude list and write something like, "I can walk." But you can write with the attitude of "[Sigh], well, at least I can walk; some people can't. My life sucks, but  at least I'm not that unfortunate."  

Or you can think about the joy you have had walking. All the pleasant memories, all the fun times you've had while walking, perhaps at a state fair or the downtown of a great city or a nature hike. You may start feeling good because you remember good times.

That's the end game, is it not? To feel good? To be happy. What more do you need? Gratitude isn't a means to the end of receiving more blessings, it is a blessing in itself. 

That's also the reason for giving. You give to something or someone you love for its own sake.

Giving isn't a vending machine, let alone a slot machine. 

I know that we sing, "the more you give, the more God gives to you" and "Give and God gives it back to you."

But haven't you also been told how virtuous it is to give expecting nothing in return?

It's kind of asking you to  "don't think about an elephant." When you're told to expect nothing in return, you start thinking about the possibility of getting something in return. It's only natural.

But giving is like gratitude, the feeling you get out of giving is its own reward because you're supporting someone or some organization that you love.

It could be that you will receive tangible, earthly blessings after you express gratitude or give to others. But the only good reason to do either is for the fun of it

Life doesn't have to be taken seriously. We can enjoy every moment of being alive.

May you have a fun-filled, good day!


About the Author

James Leroy Wilson writes The MVP Chase (subscribe) and JL Cells (subscribe) and is a monthly columnist at Meer. Thank you for your subscriptions and support! You may contact James for writing, editing, research, and other work: