Confession: I haven't met a truly happy, satisfied person this year.
I think if there is one journey that a lot of people are taking at the moment, it's trying to find a slice of lasting happiness. Not just a fleeting sight of it for a night, or a weekend, but the kind that doesn't leave in a hurry. Something more lasting, something a bit more eternal.
Where do you look for something like happiness though?
If you're anything like most people, it comes down to three things:
Popular culture says that you'll find happiness when you find that hot girl or boy to spend a night with (or more), when you get promoted at work or get some respect on your personal project, or by being able to tell wild stories about getting wasted and the shenanigans that followed.
You can even combine all three, and tell crazy stories about having sex with successful people whilst wasted.
Does it make you happy?
"I hope everybody could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it is not the answer" - Jim Carrey
It's incredibly sad that a culture like ours which prizes lasting happiness and satisfaction so highly is so unbelievably unhappy.
Every single year, it seems more people come out as battling depression. I was one of them. One in four women and one in six men will have a major depressive episode at some point in their life. People are looking for lasting happiness and finding one night stands in its place.
Maybe that sounds like you.
I can empathize with everyone feeling like that and I can only share my experience. I looked everywhere for the kind of satisfaction and happiness that culture talks about.
One of my favourite writers, C.S. Lewis hits the nail on the head:
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, pp. 1-2.)"
Lewis had a similar experience to mine. He looked far and wide and found himself unsatisfied. The happiness that he talks about here is not the kind that you can find in sex, success or even wild stories. It can only come from the hope in something lasting, eternal and most importantly secure.
The reason that we can't get happy because at the heart of it all, we're all sort of broken. French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote that 'there is a God shaped hole in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, it can only be filled by God, the creator'.
Culture has it that faith and happiness do not make happy bedfellows. You can't have both, so pick one. Sex, success and stories are far more influential and eternal in securing happiness, right?
In our day and age, chasing after happiness through sex, success and stories is the common story and it's still seen as rebellious. But, if everyone is doing it, you're not rebellious, you're conforming to the standard. You're just a conformist if you're drunk and naked, riding around on a motorcycle with a cigar in your right hand.
Be a rebel and look for something more.
I've looked for happiness in every place I could think of and come up empty, the only place I found true lasting happiness, eternal satisfaction was when I decided to follow Jesus Christ. I'm not talking about dead religion that most people have found on a Sunday with its rule, rites and rituals and no relation to what's going on.
I'm talking about a real, dynamic friendship with the creator of the universe. I'm talking about following a man who has inspired the world's greatest thinkers, social activists, leaders, scientists and artists to action. I'm talking about feeling unconditional love, grace and acceptance for the first time.
I'm talking about being part of a faith which has endured every kind of persecution and finds itself filled with joy.
Do you want true happiness?
Be a rebel. Follow Jesus. Find eternal happiness.
James Young moved to the west of Melbourne to follow God's call on his life to tell young people about the greatest message they could ever hear – the gospel. On his days off, he seeks pain on a road bike, blissful beats by listening to Beautiful Eulogy and Trip Lee and relaxing with his beautiful wife Sarah. You can see more of his writing @radicalchange2010.com and follow him at @ragingzephyr on twitter.
James Young's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/james-young.html