Archives for posts with tag: New York Times

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The pursuit of happiness is one of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration of Independence says has been given to all human beings by their Creator. However, happiness is often considered elusive and fleeting. Nathaniel Hawthorne said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

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Recent research suggests that happiness can be attributed to three major sources: genes, events and values. Data suggests that if we understand them we can improve our lives and the lives of others.

According to the researchers, data on happiness remain fairly consistent. Arthur C. Brooks reports in the New York Times that every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.”

Although there are demographic differences that can affect the statistics, about 48 percent of our happiness is inherited from our parents. Studies further suggest that isolated events control up to 40 percent of our happiness at any given time. Social scientists say that we can control the remaining 12 percent if we pursue four basic values: faith, family, community and work.

The website www.lifehack.org offers another formula for happiness: Letting Go + Acceptance + Gratitude. This suggests that the best things you can do with your life is to “let go of what was and what will be and be okay with it, thankful for it, and appreciate it.”

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In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at University College of London have provided another formula for happiness. They created an equation that accurately predicted the happiness of over 18,000 people. Participants in the study completed certain decision making tasks. Then researchers used MRI imaging to measure their brain activity and asked them repeatedly, “How happy are you now?” This testing resulted in the following equation:

FORMULA FOR HAPPINESS

You will have to do your own research to figure out what all that means.

The suggestions based on studies that are offered above are worth considering, but I commend the following to you as a formula for happiness that I think will work.

Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, offered another formula for happiness in his sermon last Sunday.* He based it on Philippians 4:4-7 in the Bible.

  • Be gentle
  • Don’t worry about anything
  • Pray about everything
  • Be thankful for all things

Actually Rev. Britt gave only three steps. I have added one: Be gentle. The Message translates those two words in verse 5: “Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”

This formula sandwiched between “The Lord is near” and “the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds” offers a simple but effective process for pursuing happiness.

Jamie Jenkins

*Rev. Britt’s sermon can be viewed at http://www.prumc.org

 

One of the best lunch bargains in town is the hot dog combo at Costco. If fine dining is your thing, then you would not find this satisfactory but for the price you can’t beat it. $1.59 gets you a large hot dog or polish and a drink. I am not happy that Costco does not serve Coca Cola products but the Minute Maid Pink Lemonade is alright.

Ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions, are available to dress your dog- and you can add sauerkraut on request. I prefer the polish with all the fixings. Not especially healthy but good.

I was enjoying one of those delicious lunches recently and noticed something unusual. The two women who ordered just before me sat nearby with their well dressed hot dogs. Each of them also had one of the large Berry Sundaes (only $1.59). They were eating their hot dogs with a knife and fork.

If you load the dog with all the condiments there is no way to eat it neatly but a knife and a fork!? That’s like eating barbeque ribs with utensils without picking them up. I do not want to disparage these two people but there are some things that just require you to pick them up with your fingers and be messy. At least that is the way we do it “down south.”

Someone might think its bad manners and they might be right. But I think it is just a cultural thing. There are a lot of things that may seem strange to you but very natural to another. It is not a matter of right or wrong but the accepted practice may vary in different geographic areas and with different ethnic customs.

My grandchildren were born in Japan where chopsticks are used instead of the utensils that I use to eat. In some cultures people eat from a common dish and use their fingers. Not right or wrong. Cultural differences.

I live in the United States where we drive on the right side of the road. However, in some parts of the world people believe the other side is the correct one. The way people dress can identify their country of origin.

I was born in Alabama and have lived for more than four  decades in Georgia. It is common to hear someone say, “Y’all come to see us,” but everyone knows that they don’t really expect you to take them up on the invitation. It’s a cultural thing just like saying “Yes, Ma’am.”

David Brooks, a writer for the New York Times refers to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ book, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence.” In it he suggests a “Theology of the Other: a complex biblical understanding of how to see God’s face in strangers.” That sounds like what the Apostle Paul was offering when he said God does not see us according to our ethnic origin, social standing, or gender (Galatians 3:28). I don’t think it is stretching his intention to add many other things that identify us and often separate us.

God, help us to see each other as you see us and treat everyone with dignity and respect because we all are your special creations.

Jamie Jenkins