The million-dollar quest for happiness

$1.3 million.

That’s apparently what happiness is worth. Or at least a prescription for happiness handwritten by Albert Einstein almost a century ago.

The note from November 1922 sold at auction last week for the above impressive price tag. And the advice found inscribed on it?

“A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”

One only has to glance at the tabloids to know just how true that statement is. And (ironically) though the sale had more to do with the prominence of the author rather than the proverb itself, an argument could be made that “happiness” is today’s hot-ticket item.

Let’s gather the data.

The quest for happiness has become the stuff of books, movies, religions, psychological study and more for decades — and, via other media, for centuries. Recently, though, we seem to have entered into a “happiness boom.”

There is something called the “Get Happier Project,” defined as “a new positive psychology of mental health, high performance and well-being.”

Another initiative called “The Pursuit of Happiness” promotes “bringing the science of happiness to life.”

There’s also — I kid you not — a “Woohoo Inc. Academy” to promote happiness at work. (The next one is being held in New York City in February. Mark your calendars.)

Articles on pursuing happiness abound — from how happiness affects your body, to my personal favorite: “A Lazy Person’s Guide to Happiness.”

And the apps! There’s a “Happiness Planner,” a “Happiness Tracker,” a “Happiness Wizard” and even a happiness-focused gratitude journal. There’s a happiness workshop, happiness “tips” with quotes like “make time for yourself” and “forgive everyone,” and an app on positive thinking. “Happiness” is hot, my friends.

The Catholic market, too, is not immune from the trend. Popular writer and Catholic evangelist Matthew Kelly found success with his book “Resisting Happiness” last year.

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So what’s the driving force behind the surge in this trend? The OSV Editorial Board reflects this week (Page 19) on the correlation between the increase in opioid addition and the decrease in religion — particularly in some of the more rural parts of the country.

Could the same be said for this seemingly manic search for happiness? Are we trying to fill the gaping void formed by our society of “nones”?

Looking for happiness? Look toward Christ. Build a relationship with him. Talk to his mother. It’s not as easy as watching a movie, reading a book or downloading an app.

As with any relationship, it involves commitment and communication. But the return will be much greater. With him at our side, we will find not just happiness, but joy.

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