Mark McCrindle is a social researcher, TEDx speaker, author of five books and Principal of the research-based advisory firm, McCrindle Research. While Mark’s work usually involves analysing trends and data, here he shares his hopes for 2023.
My hope for 2023 is that as a society we will carry with us the meaningful word of Christmas that appears on many cards and decorations: joy. One of the favourite Christmas carols, Joy to the World, reprises the message of the angel to the shepherds: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2)
At a time of economic uncertainty, we understandably get fixated on monthly interest rate rises and inflation-driven grocery cost increases, yet true joy exists beyond our temporal circumstances. Isaiah 51 speaks of the Messiah bringing everlasting joy.
Our studies of Australians highlight how our mood is so often anchored to our situation. Self-reported happiness is higher among those of above-average income compared to those of below-average income; and yet substantive joy, life satisfaction if you like, is decoupled from earnings. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 4 when he writes, tellingly from his prison cell, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
It is my hope for 2023 that joy, expressed in community, may be something that we make an effort not only to enjoy ourselves but extend to others.
We are reminded as people of God to live this joy in community. Yet while many of us regularly gather, worship and share together in thriving church communities, such connection is not normative. A recent research study we conducted found that more than one in six Australians has never felt part of a flourishing community, and around the same number report feeling lonely “often”. More than half of Australian teen and 20-somethings say they are living with a long-term mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, and only a minority of this age group report strong satisfaction in their life in measures such as a sense of purpose, contentment, personal growth and spiritual wellbeing. It is my hope for 2023 that joy, expressed in community, may be something that we make an effort not only to enjoy ourselves but extend to others.
Today’s young Australians will live longer than any in our history … Yet how sad to extend the range of life, but not the depth.
The latest data shows that today’s young Australians will live longer than any in our history and the majority of Generation Alpha, born since 2010, will live well into the 22nd century. Yet how sad to extend the range of life, but not the depth. This is the “options generation”, with unlimited pathways, but we do them no favours if we set them up with endless opportunities, yet no purpose; more experiences, but less joy.
May the year ahead give us the opportunities to exemplify meaning above materialism and timeless promises of God amidst the shifting sands of our changing times.
No doubt, the year ahead will bring disruptions, perhaps in the form of global instability, technological ructions, natural disasters, further twists and turns in the pandemic or perhaps even a recession. Yet it is my prayer for 2023 that with trust in God, and the true perspective of joy that this brings, we will be able to say with the Psalmist of old: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)