Looking for Happiness

Are Americans looking for joy in food, drink, clothes, sex, travel, and experiences? David Kinnaman compares the sought-after American lifestyle with the rest of the world and wonders when is enough enough.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Can you come up with an answer for the "uncaused cause"?
  2. What do you think of the idea that God fills in the gaps of scientific theory?

I was, uh, on a plane, uh, yesterday, and I was thinking about the way we live today as relative kings and queens by comparison to most of human history. I mean, we can pretty much have any kind of food at any temperature at any time that we want. There was an advertisement, uh, on the, the, the television screen because you don't want to just fly without a television while you're in the air. You know, that would be, like, too long without, without having the true happiness of television. And, uh, there was an advertisement for Las Vegas and, you know, just all the, the glitz and glamour of, of that, and, and the, the palaces of Vegas. I mean, some people love going there but it's become really part of the American ideal is to enjoy yourself and to, to find true happiness by eating as much as you like, and drinking as much as you like and enjoying life and having as much sex as you, as you like and, and you know, getting the size home that you want and the kind of cars and all things and, and flying around the world, and dressing as best as you like. I mean, just honestly, when you think about the things that we enjoy and the things that we think bring happiness, our whole notion of personal comfort in, in the West is so out of proportion with what most humans in history have experienced, and frankly if we're being honest, if we've traveled at all if we've, if our hearts are open to what most humans in the world today experience, I'm beginning to think that, you know, most of our definitions of human joy and happiness are so, are so wrong and they're, they're frankly, even if you look at it from a just a environmental stewardship perspective, they're not sustainable. We, we can't keep— as Americans, we use 1/4th of the world's resources, but we're 1/20th of the population and, and now it's happening in China and Africa and other places. They're trying to emulate American-style happiness to have everything that you want at any time. And, and for me as a Christian, I'm, I'm really struggling with this question of, of stewardship. And there's this place in the Bible that we should live lives of quiet ambition, you know, working with our hands and not, not trying to struggle to get all these, these human trappings of joy and happiness, and I, I think, I think there's some work we have to do as Christians to begin to rediscover that, uh, that idea of finding true joy in Jesus, that he is the ultimate place of having joy, and happiness gets redefined not about all the things that you have or whether your family is healthy and well and all the rest. Although that's nice. Uh, it begins to be a different kind of sense that you get to live, uh, live a life of purpose with him.