Reuters Health released an article on September 1, 2008, “Lack of Joy in Life Ups Early Death Risk,” about a research study conducted in Japan. It found that people who don’t think life is worth living are more likely to die within the next few years. The increased death risk was mainly due to cardiovascular disease and external causes — most commonly, suicide. The research is the largest to date to investigate how “ikigai,” or “joy and a sense of well-being from being alive,” affects mortality risk, and only the second to examine death from specific causes, according to Dr. Toshimasa Sone and colleagues from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai.
In this study, the investigators looked at 43,391 men and women between the ages of 40 and 79. Each person was asked the question, “Do you have “ikigai” in your life?” The researchers found that those who did not have a sense of a “ikigai” were in worse health, more mentally stressed, and in more bodily pain. They were also more likely to have limited physical function. Overall, people with no sense of “ikigai” were 50% more likely to die from any cause during the follow-up period compared to those who did have a sense of life worth living.
The Bible speaks to the topic of joy and a life worth living in Psalm 119. Let’s look at the following five scriptures:
Psalm 119:1 Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Psalm 119:2 - Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
Psalm 119:74 – May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:92 - If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.
Psalm 119:143 – As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.
Similar to the blog post on happiness that I made on Saturday, living a life that is in line with God’s principles that are written about in the Bible can not only bring a life of happiness but of joy and a sense that life is worth living. As the researchers in this Japanese study have discovered, those with a deep sense of joy and a sense that life is worth living do have better health outcomes than those who do not have that sense of deep joy in their hearts. That’s how God designed us. And that’s why God inspired the writers of the Bible to give us the truth that can be found there. As I urged readers of my blog on Saturday, I will urge you again to read through Psalm 119 so that you can understand the value of living according to God’s principles.
Do you have deep inner joy and a sense that life is worth living? I hope so. If not, I pray that by reading Psalm 119 and spending more time reading about the truths of God and through developing a personal relationship with Jesus you’ll be enable to find true and lasting joy and a sense of meaning of life.
Have a terrific day!