There Are No Life Hacks

May 8, 2024

But they are wrong, and there are no life-hacks.  There is God, creation, and the submission of the latter to the truth of the former.  Without that, unhappiness is the inevitable outcome.  What we want is not money and pleasure, but happiness.  Everything we do we do to be happy.  The wise today are not the hackers, but the happy ones.  We all want happiness, but if the steady stream of surveys shows us anything, we are lonely and unhappy.

I have found the wise tend to be the ones who have re-learned how to be human by receiving reality as it is, cultivating it in simplicity, and learning to give of themselves in love and not amass for themselves in frantic hoarding.  None of that can be taxed or easily traded, so it gets little press.

The way I remind myself of this daily is through praying Psalm 128 with my family each night (it’s in None of the Little Office).  It begins with the classic beginning of wisdom, “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord… that follows his paths,” and then it lists three ways that the man is blessed by God and made happy:

Thyself shall eat what thy hands have toiled to win; blessed thou art; all good shall be thine.

Thy wife shall be fruitful as a vine, in the heart of thy home,

the children round thy table sturdy as olive-branches.

Let a man serve the Lord, such is the blessing that awaits him.

It’s hard for a society like ours to think that hard work and lots of kids will make you happy, but there it is – this is how God wants to bless us.

In short, good work and a fruitful family is your blessing.  Yes, money is necessary, but the error of today is that all of our work and life is a means to get money.  This is an unnatural economy, condemned by the likes of Aristotle and Aquinas.  True economy is related to the management of the household and the meeting of the needs of our neighbor.  Money is a means to enjoy the ends like people, good things, and reasonable comfort.  Today we sacrifice all of those things to get money because we see all things as potential means to get money.  To grow in wisdom, reverse in your mind and heart that order – money is a means, nothing else.  People are ends, nothing else.  And God is your ultimate end.

This truth in Psalm 128 delights me because I don’t have to master a system foreign and event violent to my humanity.  I do have to toil, yes, but work in itself has dignity and I like work that has clear ends. (Making money has no clear end, which is why making it becomes a habit of mind and not just a job.) I can’t help but recommend some sort of physical labor in your life, especially if most of your work is behind a screen and data – the screen beckons you as an endless torrent of things to do, but physical labor refreshes the mind and body and produces a thing well done.   It ends, and by ending it breaks the cycle of endlessness in a consumerist and media-saturated society.

Oh, and in God’s scheme of happiness, I get to make and enjoy lots of children.  That sounds like a good life to me.

Reprinted with permission from Those Catholic Men. Check out more articles like this one in Sword&Spade.

Jason M. Craig is the editor of Those Catholic Men and Sword&Spade magazine, the author of Leaving Boyhood Behind (OSV 2019), and co-founder of Fraternus. He has a Masters in Theology from the Augustine Institute. Craig runs a small Grade A dairy with his family and hosts retreats and workshops through St. Joseph’s Farm. He is known to claim that his family invented bourbon.

Jason Craig


Don’t Miss a Thing

Subscribe to get email notifications of new posts and special offers PLUS a St. Joseph digital poster.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *