Santa Tracking Goes HIGH-TECH
How many books have you seen with the word “happiness” in the title? A lot, right? It’s such a popular topic because the pursuit, journey, and, ultimately, achievement of happiness is supposed to be the key to a fulfilling life. Happiness is the ultimate human condition; reaching it is our purpose and will bring us contentment. But before you pick up that guide to happiness, there’s some new data you need to pay attention to. Turns out, we’ve been focusing on the wrong goal. More and more research is supporting the benefit of pursuing a meaningful life over a happy one. Viktor Frankl could be called a leading expert on the topic. Frankl lived through the Holocaust in a concentration camp and saw firsthand how humans deal with unhappy circumstances. As a respected psychiatrist, his observations became the basis for his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl found that the people who stood the best chance of surviving the horrific experience were those who saw some sort of meaning in their lives, even under the bleakest circumstances. For Frankl, this meant providing therapy to others in the camp. As Frankl puts it, once a person finds meaning, they know the “why” of their existence, and they will be able to bear almost any “how.” It’s almost Christmas, and if you have small kids, you know what that means: prepping for the arrival of a jolly man in a red suit and his confusingly named reindeer. Some of us may remember spending Christmas Eve curled on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa as radio reports tracked Santa’s trip around the globe. But these days, kiddos have gotten a little more high-tech in their search for up-to-date, GPS-driven Kringle updates. First, there’s the Google Santa Tracker (santatracker.google.com), a full-fledged holiday hub for your browser powered by Google Maps, including, of course, an up-to-the-minute GPS tracker for the big man. The application arrived in 2004, and it’s been updated every year since. During the countdown to Christmas, there’s a colorfully animated advent calendar of sorts, where buildings around Santa’s village “thaw out” and reveal a host of fun games and activities. There’s even a section titled “Santa Tracker for Educators,” which includes kid-friendly coding games, information on international holiday traditions, and a translation app to “learn the Santa lingo from around the world.” When the eve of the big day finally comes, Google promises a showcase of Santa’s “dashboard, the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey.” Featuring “the latest and greatest … in sleigh engineering,” the app displays a Google Maps window that tracks each of Santa’s stops, gives status updates from Old Saint Nick, and tells kids how far he is from their city. It’s a colorful, fun adventure for the whole family.
Of course, Google’s not the only kid on the Santa-tracking block. There’s also NORAD Tracks Santa , operated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the same organization that tracks nuclear missiles for the government. Similar to Google, noradsanta. org includes a variety of fun games and activities leading up to Christmas. But unlike Google, NORAD has a dedicated Santa-tracking app for your phone, where you can see a 3-D view of Santa’s location during his trip. The app also features videos, so you and your little ones can see clips of Santa flying around major landmarks and world cities. Just don’t stay up too late watching them. You don’t want Santa to skip over your house!
Give Up the Search for Happiness
… And Look for Meaning Instead
In the years since “Man’s Search for Meaning” was written, it seems we’ve forgotten a lot of its advice. The Centers for Disease Control found that 4 out of every 10 Americans do not have a satisfying life purpose, and yet, 60 percent of Americans say they are happy. What gives? It comes down to the pursuit of happiness versus pursuing meaning in life. It’s the difference between “I’m going to buy this dress because it will make me happy” and “I’m going to volunteer at a shelter because it will be meaningful.” Happiness involves satisfying an immediate need, whereas finding meaning focuses on making choices that give us a sense of purpose. Even more telling, the Journal of Positive Psychology found that meaningful acts usually involve giving, but reaching happiness often means taking. Because of this, leading a meaningful life, while often more challenging, is also more satisfying. Is it possible that the pursuit of a meaningful life will lead us to happiness? Absolutely. Just don’t expect it to be an everlasting condition. Think of happiness the way psychologist Frank T. McAndrew does: “Recognizing that happiness exists — and that it’s a delightful visitor that never overstays its welcome — may help us appreciate it more when it arrives.”
2 • SmileyFirm.com
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