Editorial Note: In this unusual season of social distancing, disruption, and deep health and economic concerns, many of us are discovering disheartening cracks in our personalities. Jokes on social media about binge eating, drinking, or series-watching make us laugh because they are so telling. News outlets report that both pornography usage and gun sales have spiked—two evidences of the unhealthy ways humans attempt to deal with boredom on the one hand and profound anxiety on the other.
On the flip side, there is also the hopeful sense that the current disruption could be a chance to reset direction or cultivate some new habits. When the online learning platform Coursera advertised a free Yale course called “The Science of Wellbeing: Psychology and the Good Life,” over 2.2 million people enrolled. There is a deep hunger to live a rightly-ordered life, and a sense that this cultural moment could be a defining one.
Dr. Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung has written helpfully and extensively on this topic.
This article by her was originally written for the Renovaré Book Club as an introduction to a six-week study on Glittering Vices (Brazos Press, 2009). This essay has been modified from its original version. Renovare.