Posts tagged with: happiness

As the most widely observed cultural holiday in the world, Christmas produces many things—joy, happiness, gratitude, reverence. And numbers. Lots of peculiar, often large, numbers. Here are a few to contemplate this season:

Christmas Numbers$50.82 – Average amount U.S. consumers spent on real Christmas trees in 2015.

$69.38 – Average amount U.S. consumers spent on fake Christmas trees in 2015.

33,000,000 – Number of real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. each year.

9,500,000 – Number of fake Christmas trees sold each year.

7 – Average growing time in years for a Christmas tree.

350 million – Number of Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas tree farms.

325.1 million – Current population of the United State.

$27.21 — The energy costs of lighting a six-foot Christmas tree, lit 12 hours a day for 40 days, decorated with various light types.

$1,100,000,000 – Estimated value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2016.

$23,800,000,000 – Estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2014. This represents an A decrease of $0.4 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year.

750,000 – Number of new employees hired to compensate for the holiday rush in 2015.

37.5 percent — Estimated percentage of charitable giving that occurs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

$752 – Average amount people in the U.S. estimated they’ll spent in on Christmas presents in 2016.

108,000,000 — Average number of homes Santa Claus has to visit on December 25 (assuming there is at least one “nice” child in each).

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, November 3, 2016
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Hand drawing unhappy and happy smileys on blackboardHuman knowledge and culture have exploded so thoroughly in diversity and specialization, especially in the Modern period, that few universals or unifying themes remain, says Jonathan T. Pennington. But one idea or theme that can still be identified as universal is human flourishing:

Human flourishing alone is the idea that encompasses all human activity and goals because there is happiness. These are not merely cultural values or the desire of a certain people or time period. The desire for human flourishing motivates everything humans do. All human behavior, when analyzed deeply enough, will be found to be motivated by the desire for life and flourishing, individually and corporately.

The Bible speaks to the issue of human flourishing in very significant ways. But this is not unique among ancient or current philosophies, religions or worldviews.

What is unique, and what is revelational and authoritative for the Christian, is that Holy Scripture understands human flourishing to be a function of God’s redemptive work in the world, the very core of his relation toward his creatures. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God is at work redeeming his broken, sinful and rebellious creatures. From the promise of redemption in Genesis 3:15 through the climactic vision at the end of the book of Revelation, God reveals himself to be actively and graciously redeeming his people, saving them from oppression, forgiving their disobedience and dishonoring acts, and leading them into a time and place of his full presence.

Read more . . .

In a new video from TED Ed, Akshita Agarwal provides a quick lesson on Adam Smith’s “paradox of value” and the differences between “value in use” and “value in exchange.”

For Christians, there’s a crucial lesson here about the best way to meet human needs in the economic order, whether through trade policy, reducing price controls, or any number of other areas. Discerning “economic value” is a tricky thing, and free economies are a handy tools for working through these things in peaceful and productive ways.

But as Agarwal concludes, it also has implications for our everyday stewardship: (more…)

carolers2Over the last century, Christianity has declined in social influence across much of the Western world, leading many to believe it has little place or purpose in public life.

In response, Christian reactions have varied, with the more typical approaches being fortification (“hide!”), domination (“fight!”), or accommodation (“blend in!”). In each case, the response takes the shape of heavy-handed strategery or top-down mobilization, whether to or from the hills.

And yet the cultural witness of the church ought to flow (or overflow) a bit differently. For Greg Forster, it has less to do with “cultural lever-pulling,” and a whole lot more to do with joy.

“Christianity is losing its influence in contemporary America because people outside the church just don’t encounter the joy of God as much as they used to,” Forster writes in his latest book, Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It. “…The joy of God can do what cultural lever-pulling can’t do.”

As we experience the joy of God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, our attitudes and activities are transformed. As Christians, our primary task is not to take that transformation and funnel it toward end-game tactics, but to faithfully embody it across culture: blessing our neighbors and cultivating civilization, whether in the family, our work and the economy, or citizenship and community (Forster’s three main categories). (more…)

51If4pLhXLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It’s always a pleasure when Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, comes to town; he’s an engaging speaker, a thoughtful leader, and really an all around fantastic guy. That’s why it was such a privilege to sit down with him last week in the Acton Studios after he delivered his latest Acton Lecture Series Address last Thursday to record this week’s edition of Radio Free Acton. We talked about the message of conservatism, how it often gets bogged down in facts and statistics, and how conservatives can better communicate their core principles to a public that is often quite skeptical of our motivations.

You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below, and stay tuned to the PowerBlog for video of Brooks’ ALS address, which will be posted a bit later this week.

slackerWhat does it meant to be happy, and is our culture getting that all wrong? Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, thinks that may be the case.

A prolific author and speaker, Spitzer explores what happiness means in his latest book, Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts. First, we seek happiness in external material possessions. This can range from acquiring that sought-after gadget or enjoying a fabulous meal. There’s nothing wrong with this type of happiness, but it’s fleeting.

The second level of happiness relies on self-awareness.

We can actually be aware of being aware of our awareness, because of that we create our own inner world, inner universe. You juxtapose it to the outer universe,” he said. “You want the locus of control to be in you, not outside, so you want to be better … we’d like to be smarter or we’d like to be more athletic.”

It’s at this phase — one that involves the ego — that people begin to compare themselves to others, competing and finding worth in trumping their peers. It’s something that Spitzer said can “become an end of itself” — and he believes that it’s rampant in the current culture.

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The 2015 Acton Lecture Series continued on January 29th with a presentation by American Enterprise Institute President Arthur C. Brooks, who delivered a great talk on what really leads to happiness in life. In an era when Americans are finding less and less satisfaction with their nation while enjoying great abundance compared to much of the rest of the world and overall human history, what can we do to regain our confidence in the American enterprise system that has lifted much of the world out of poverty? Brooks explains, and you can hear his explanation via the video player below.