Danes Found the Keys to Happiness
According to the British Medical Journal, reported EurekAlert, British scientists wanted to find out what makes the Danish so darn happy. “Their hypotheses range from the unlikely (hair colour, genes, food and language) to the more plausible, such as family life, health and a prosperous economy.” Their conclusion? Danes are happier than other Europeans because (1) they won a soccer championship in 1992 that has created a feeling of national euphoria ever since, and (2) they have lower expectations for each new year. “So the key to happiness may lie in the fact that if you lower your expectations enough you might feel a bit better next Christmas, they conclude.” The morose Finns and Swedes might want to pay attention.
Surely someone is joking. This story is either a spoof, or some researchers who never took a logic class have way too much time on their hands. Other nations aren’t happy because of football victories far more recent than 14 years ago. Lowered expectations don’t bring happiness, either; remember Murphy’s Non-Reciprocal Laws of Expectations? (see 12/14/2006 commentary). Maybe the Danes just have a higher proportion of jolly nincompoops who just don’t know what’s going on. If they did, they would be depressed (see this, for instance). Happiness based on anything material or temporal can be taken away. And happiness based on lowered expectations is not really happiness.
There was a high expectation once that did come to pass. It had been expected for years (Simeon, Anna) and centuries – even millennia (Peter).
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining—
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” said Solomon, “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Waiting for the promised Messiah must have seemed hopeless at times to the beleaguered exiles, Hasmoneans, and scattered of the remnant who still read the copies of copies of scrolls of Isaiah and the prophets.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah).
Looking back more than 2000 years, we can hardly imagine the expectation tinged with doubt of those who, under Roman oppression, longed for redemption.
Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.
This season, you can have something better than happiness. You can have joy. C.S. Lewis described joy as “an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.” The fact that we have such a desire, Lewis argued, is proof there must be an Object for it (see Probe Ministries exposition by Michael Gleghorn). Evolution would not produce a desire that universal experience shows is incapable of being satisfied by material things. Christmas represents the manifestation of the Object of that deepest of universal human desires. It was the breakthrough of heaven to earth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…
If you get a football or soccer ball under the tree, it will disintegrate into dust. The euphoria over a sports event will fade into oblivion. But 2000 years after the first Christmas, individuals all over the world continue to rejoice:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.
There is still Joy in this dark old world. We just need to get the word out to the people who need it most (watch this). Merry Christmas!