Catchy headlines sell newspapers. Given that industry’s trouble state, we shouldn’t be surprised to see an uptick in the “desperation-for-relevance” department. Especially from the poor Boston Globe which is still up for auction.
In a piece titled, Happiness: A buyer’s guide, staff writer Drake Bennett reports on some interesting “new” ideas on the relationship between money and the good life. The main ah-ha is that money might be able to make us happy, if we spent it the right way. For some reason, however, most of us end up spending money on ourselves and getting more stuff instead of on others and experiences.
The piece is interesting and worth reading, but one line jumped out at me as an example of the modernism that we here at Humane Pursuits find troubling:
Despite millennia of folk wisdom on the topic, it wasn’t until a decade ago that researchers started to take a hard look at whether money really does have anything to do with happiness.
Only scientific research, from the last decade, has uncovered the true connection between wealth and satisfaction? Maybe, but only if you are a good modernist rejecting tradition and revelation.
As interesting as the research Bennett presents might be, the claim to “newness” is really only explainable by the Globe‘s need to get eyeballs to advertisers.
Even before the 1990s, self-interest and virtue have been thought to have an important relationship. For Christians and many others, the argument that humans are more satisfied by virtue is obviously sensible. Pagan philosophers like Aristotle believed pursuing self-interest, or happiness, was ultimately fulfilled by living well.
The research Bennett presents confirms that satisfying our base passions never leads to happiness. Base passions in this instance being our unquenchable desire to consume self-oriented stuff. Instead, research shows that we should spend money on what amounts to seeking other people’s good, or loving others.
Jesus was on to this fact and more:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
But the Boston Globe won’t avoid bankruptcy by reporting that.
(HT: Arts & Letters Daily)
Adam D’Luzansky lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.