Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a 4-part article. See Seeking Happiness Will Lead to Unhappiness.
In our individualistic Western culture, the idea of personal happiness is sadly taken for granted as something worth seeking, and this has impacted the career prospects of millennials. If you're a millennial with great career prospects, you are in a very small minority. It's time we all take a lesson from those who have ruined our economy: Stop being selfish and realize there is a greater good than our own individual autonomy and freedom to do whatever we want as long as it makes us happy.
Western culture is different from every other culture in the world, in that rather than the family or community being the center of society, it is the self. This philosophy has led to much good in the world: The U.S. has made tremendous advances in technology and medicine, as well as spreading the idea that there are certain God-given inalienable rights that humans have. However, the past several generations have abused their inheritance, taking individual autonomy to the nth degree. The selfish actions of a select few have caused the backslide of our nation. We now face the potential downfall of our entire way of life, although it may not happen immediately.
At the same time, millennials have been fed a lie our entire lives that individual autonomy is what we need to be happy. The idea that solely seeking individual autonomy will lead to happiness is a lie. Want proof? Look in the mirror. As we focus more and more on ourselves, we will increasingly lose our connection to life and goodness, and this is working at the individual level, at the corporate level, at the government level, and at the level of the people who have most of the wealth and power in our society. If we do not change at all of these levels, things will get worse and we will lose our way of life.
So, if not ourselves and our own individual happiness, what should we seek? While I have been out here in the Philippines working for an NGO, I have had an extremely powerful conversion experience. God has come rushing into my life, he has subdued my heart, and he has given me a new self.
I have cried tears of joy I never thought possible growing up in such a secular society, and attending a university as secular as Princeton. It has been scary, exhilarating, humbling, joyous, overwhelming, life changing, and awesome in every sense of the word. It is impossible to communicate the exact event that has taken place in my life to a non-believer because something very special happens to your heart and soul when you are converted.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons