“Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek, and ye shall find.” - Matthew 7:7 (KJV)
Did you know that there is such a thing as “happiness economics”? In it, researchers measure the relative happiness of a culture or society. Gallup releases an annual world poll that includes the “Cantril ladder,” which asks people to rank where they are on the ladder of living their “best possible life.”
Where would you rank your happiness—your ability to live your “best possible life”—on this ladder from 1 to 10? What factors would you consider?
(In case you’re curious, the countries that consistently score highest on this index are in Scandinavia and Switzerland.)
Now think about how we handle this assessment culturally. We are surrounded by messages that tell us we will be happier if we accumulate things. It’s the basic message of consumer culture. We may hope for a thing that, should we have it, will make us happy.
And, as research shows, it probably will.
It’s just that … over time … we adapt to it.
That new, shiny thing we get? We can delight in it for a time. But it will lose its luster as we get used to having it. And then we look for the next hit.
We may be culturally conditioned to shape our lives around shiny things. But God calls us to shape our lives around greater gifts. God’s gifts.
Gifts that protect our lives.
Gifts that intervene when things are headed downhill.
Gifts that inspire us to praise and worship our God.
Holy One: help us to shape our lives around your gifts. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.