Take Delight in the Lord and Improve Your Well-Being

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Get Out of Your Head" by Jennie Allen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does it mean to take delight in the Lord? How can taking delight in the Lord improve your mental well-being?

The cure for cynicism and negativity is to learn to take delight in the Lord and his goodness. You implement this strategy by cultivating awe and appreciation of beauty.

Keep reading to find out what it means to take delight in the Lord, and how you can do it.

Take Delight in the Lord

When you take delight in the Lord, you meditate on the truth that all beauty speaks of God’s own beauty, power, and goodness. It speaks of a world yet to come, a world beyond this one, a world more spectacular than you can imagine, but that you’ll one day see and know and enjoy fully.

There are various ways of practicing this. One is to seek out beauty and grandeur in nature, art, and human relationships. 

Examples in nature might include snowy mountain peaks, sunsets, scenic vistas, seashells, thunderstorms, beautiful animals, the intricate structure of the human body, or whatever moves you personally. As Psalm 19:1 famously proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The author used this approach once in college when she led a Bible study for fellow college sophomores and noticed that they were all discouraged and exhausted. She scrapped her prepared lesson, went outside, and brought back a leaf from a tree. Then she instructed her friends to pass it around and examine it closely to note God’s careful design.

Examples in art could include a beautiful song, painting, film, or play, or the sight of beautiful architecture, such as a lovely old church with stained-glass windows. The author describes her first time attending a professional stage musical with her husband in her early twenties. It was Les Misérables, and it overwhelmed her to the point of tears with its beauty. The experience amplified her ability to appreciate God.

Examples in human relationships might be the simple delight of watching your children play or the sense of being deeply moved by acts of human kindness.

In all these cases, your overarching goal is to cultivate the discipline that Paul described (and that the previous chapter employed in the battle against fear) of filling your mind with everything that’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Cynicism can’t coexist with such thoughts. 

The Effects of Delight in God

The result of choosing to take delight in the Lord that it tears down your wall of cynicism and lets in hope, trust, and worship.

As with so many spiritual experiences, this one has a verified brain-based component. MRIs of the brain show that the experience of awe shuts down brain activity associated with selfishness while increasing a sense of connection with others. Awe-filled delight in God thus breaches one of the major self-protective barriers that cynicism erects around you.

The Bible also powerfully describes and confirms the effects of delight in God. See, for example, Paul’s description in 2 Corinthians 3 of how we become like Moses beholding God on the mountain whenever we come “face-to-face” with God in delight and worship. Our own lives become brighter and more beautiful, just like Moses’s glowing face. We become more like God.

The ultimate scriptural illustration of this principle is God’s very Son, Jesus, who explodes any real basis for cynicism because his story and reality literally embody our deepest yearning. They provide the divine truth, beauty, redemption, and connection that we long for. As stated in Chapter 1, Jesus is the whole reason why we have the choice to interrupt our downward spirals in the first place, including the one into cynicism.

Here’s a visual that shows the negative spiral of cynicism and how you can reverse it by choosing to take delight in the Lord:

Take Delight in the Lord and Improve Your Well-Being

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jennie Allen's "Get Out of Your Head" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Get Out of Your Head summary:

  • Satan’s master plan for poisoning your mind with toxic thoughts
  • How to replace ungodly lies with scriptural truths
  • How to “put on the mind of Christ” and fulfill God’s plan for you

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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