By James Young
Confession: I haven't met a truly happy, satisfied person for quite some time.
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: sex, success, and stories.
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 for your personal project, or by being able to tell wild stories about getting wasted and the other things 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 in the wrong ways and in the wrong places, which only serves to frustrate them in their search.
Maybe that sounds like you.
I can empathise 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 and the genius who penned The Chronicles of Narnia, 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 that are often greatly embellished. It can only come from the hope in something lasting, eternal and most importantly secure.
The reason that we cannot find happiness is because at the heart of it all, we are all broken individuals at best. 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 cannot have both, so pick one. In our day and age, chasing after happiness through sex, success and stories is the common story and it is still seen as rebellious. But, if everyone is doing it, you're not rebellious; you're conforming to the standard. If you're drunk and naked, riding around on a motorcycle with a cigar in your right hand, that just means you are a conformist.
Be a rebel and look for something more.
I've looked for happiness in every place I could think of and came 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 rules, 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, undeserved love 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. •
Read more from Jimmy at radicalchange2010.com