When future generations looked back upon them, they could not help but marvel. "They had so much, so much, so much," future generations exclaimed in wonder. But then a puzzled look crossed their face as they asked, "Why were they so dissatisfied so much of the time?"
Could that be what future generations will say of us? Consider the following statement, backed by copious empirical research:
Every metric of society is improving yet every metric of our well being is in steady retreat for the past two decades. Depression rates are up, stress levels are up, we feel less connected to one another and we feel less meaning in our lives. --One Day University Presents: The Science of Happiness (Harvard's Most Popular Course)
It's interesting to me that all of the best research--even very secular research--concludes pretty much unanimously the practicing religion "so highly correlates with levels of happiness" (again, I'm quoting Harvard's research).
As it turns out, spirituality is like physical fitness, emotional well being, and social connection. It's essential to a life well-lived. But here's the thing: just like othe areas of fitness, it requires diligence and hard work. It's got to be more than just vague ideas about a good God (though that's a great start) just like actually being fit requires me to do more than admire people who are in shape.
Science also tells us that being religious does not come naturally to all of us. That means some of us will have to work harder at it than others. For some of us, it will--initially at least--feel like swimming up stream. Believe it or not, it does not come naturally to me.
What I do know is that from everything I see, virtually everything I read, and from my own personal experience, doing this work is worth it. I commend it to you in 2014, and invite you to join me in it. In fact, this week at St. Matt's would be a great time to start!