Youths—How Can YOU Be Happy?
YOUTH can be one of life’s most exciting times. Your future is before you. So make the most of it. Pursue happiness.
2 But that is not easy. Dr. Robert S. Brown made a study of young adults who, a few years ago, were determined to live up to their ideals for society and government. He reports that more than a third of them became disillusioned, depressed and anxious.
3 You often hear it said that getting a good education is the answer. But today many young persons who do so still have trouble finding employment. Others who make out well financially discover that their high-paying jobs leave their role in life unfulfilled. Nor do most youthful romances lead to happiness. In some places, 80 percent of teen-age marriages fail within five years.
4 What can you do so that it will be different with you, so that you will really enjoy yourself now and have a satisfying future? Or, if you are a parent, how can you help your offspring to achieve that goal?
TAKING THE CREATOR INTO CONSIDERATION
5 Often young persons are influenced by others of their age, who have limited experience in life. The Bible observes:
A young person who is realistic will admit that few of his schoolmates or friends are deeply concerned about his lasting welfare. You could ask, ‘In the years to come, will they then care if my happiness is spoiled by what I do now?’
6 But who does care and can offer you the best advice? Your Creator. He wants youths to enjoy life. He is not negative about all that appeals to young hearts and eyes. While he does not shield youths from the bitter results of a reckless course, he does what you would expect of someone truly interested in you: He warns you about things that will bring grief and calamity, and he offers advice on how to avoid these pitfalls. (Proverbs 27:5; Psalm 119:9) The Scriptures say in this regard:
“Rejoice, young man, in your youth, and let your heart do you good in the days of your young manhood, and walk in the ways of your heart and in the things seen by your eyes. But know that on account of all these the true God will bring you into judgment. So remove vexation from your heart, and ward off calamity from your flesh.”—Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10.
7 There is, though, more reason to take the Creator into consideration than his being interested in you. As you likely have noted, many young persons drift rather aimlessly in life. They have no particular goal nor any firm standards on which to base their life. Often they turn to drugs, smoking and dangerous thrills to fill the emptiness in their life or to find some excitement in an otherwise dull life. You may even have done some of those things, whether aware of the hazards or not. Are you satisfied with your life up till now and with what you see in the future? Is it not time to pause and think about your life?
8 As we considered earlier, for a person’s life to have meaning and to be in harmony with the facts, he must recognize that there is a Creator of the universe. That One, our Maker, has standards. (Psalm 100:3) Those standards are in line with how he made us to live. They are practical and conducive to happiness. We saw evidence of that in earlier chapters where premarital sex, heavy drinking and gambling were discussed.* So if you want a pleasant life, would it not be wise to take the Creator into consideration when you think about how you will live, what standards you will uphold and where your life is heading?
LIFE WITH PURPOSE AND SELF-RESPECT
9 We noted in Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10 some Bible comments directed to youth. That book of the Bible concludes:
“The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
10 Earth wide there are hundreds of thousands of young persons who have given serious thought to their lives. They have considered the Creator and studied his Word. And they have seen that one of the basic requirements for happiness is to live in harmony with their Maker. That should also be your duty and purpose in life. Living the way the Scriptures outline is not odd, extreme or unpleasant. Rather, it is a balanced and meaningful way of life. It enables a person to deal wisely and successfully with questions about money, employment, morals, family life, recreation and other matters that you now face or will yet face. The experience of Jehovah’s Witnesses confirms that wisdom based on the Scriptures
“is the tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Proverbs 3:18.
The Bible counsels: “My son, do not forget my teaching, let your heart keep my principles, for these will give you lengthier days, longer years of life, and greater happiness.”—Proverbs 3:1, 2, Jerusalem Bible.
11 When you follow the Bible’s advice, you may stand out as somewhat different from the average youth. In fact, a few persons might chide you about this. (1 Peter 2:20; 4:4) Would you let that hold you back from a course that will make your life more pleasant?
12 There are many youths who talk about thinking for themselves, yet the facts show that they are afraid to be different. The Bible, though, contains fine examples of young persons who did not follow the crowd. While being normal youths, with interests, concerns and hopes just as you have, they guided their thinking and actions by God’s wise counsel.
13 You can read one example in Daniel 1:6-20; 3:1-30. Three young Hebrew companions of Daniel were willing to be different from the majority around them. When they were ordered to bow to an image, something God’s Word forbade, they refused. Would you have been able to do that? Others even wanted to kill them for their stand. Yet they stuck to their principles, and you will see from the account that God approved of and protected them. In the end, the king of Babylon honored them, confirming what Solomon wrote: “I am also aware that it will turn out well with those fearing the true God.”—Ecclesiastes 8:12; Exodus 20:4, 5.
14 Those young men gained the respect of others, but they had self-respect also. The same has been true of many youthful Witnesses of Jehovah in modern times. Schoolmates have expressed admiration for their convictions and the fact that these Christians know where they are heading in life. Do you not agree that being respected and having self-respect make life more meaningful?
15 Bible counsel also contributes to more rewarding lives for young persons by making for closer family ties.
16 You no doubt know of families where a chasm exists between the parents and the children, whether these are very young or are teen-agers. Often this gap develops when parents try to direct their offspring, who resent being told what to do or what not to do.
17 The Bible helps overcome this problem by offering balanced guidance to both youths and parents, such as:
“Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Respect your father and mother’ is the first commandment that has a promise added: ‘so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.’ Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction.”—Ephesians 6:1-4, Good News Bible.
18 Of course, no parents are perfect. Still it is “the right thing” for young persons to respect their parents. Why? In part, because our parents have done so much for us—feeding us, caring for us when we were sick, working to provide a home and to fill our needs. We could not have hired anyone to do all that they have done and with the loving interest they have shown. So it is morally right to respect them, even as we would like to receive respect from children that someday we might have.
19 Youths who sincerely try to apply such Bible advice are going to feel more secure. They will be contributing to a closer family, which will make their life more peaceful and happy. And they will be protected from some problems that parents can foresee because of their greater experience in life. (Proverbs 30:17) Nor to be overlooked is the satisfaction the young persons can gain from knowing that they are acting in accord with their Creator’s will.
20 Accepting Biblical counsel benefits young persons in other ways, too. By appreciating the value of cooperation and of having respect for authority, they are better able to function smoothly at school, in later employer-employee relations and when dealing with officials. (Matthew 5:41) Also, taking Bible counsel to heart will make for happiness when they have mates and children of their own.
PARENTS PLAY A VITAL ROLE
21 In giving attention to how young persons can be happy, we cannot ignore the vital role that parents play. Most parents sense their responsibility to try to provide good food, clothing and a pleasant home for their children. But if youths are to become fine persons, they will need parental instruction, correction and moral guidance. The Bible has proved to be the finest basis for this. (Matthew 11:19) Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 explains that such instruction should be a regular part of family life, not something mentioned just once in a while. Also, this instruction can, and should, begin at an early age.—2 Timothy 3:15; Mark 10:13-16.
22 Few parents with young children would be surprised to read: “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy [or, girl]; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) But what does that mean? Some parents are so severe that they physically harm their children with beatings. Others claim that children should be allowed to develop on their own. Neither extreme is correct.
23 We read earlier that parents are to ‘raise their children with Christian discipline and instruction.’ (Ephesians 6:4, Good News Bible) Brutality is not Christian discipline. (Proverbs 16:32; 25:28) Loving discipline may be expressed with a firm word. That is particularly so if parents make clear the reason for their rule and if they consistently stand behind what they say. When foolishness in a youth’s heart still moves him or her to disobey—and that often occurs—some form of punishment will impress the idea. Taking away a privilege may work. God’s Word says, though, that in some cases physical chastisement—spanking, given without wrath—may be needed.—Proverbs 23:13, 14; 13:24.
24 As small children grow older, the way of dealing with them will change. Whereas a spanking may have worked best with a young boy, as he gets older other methods may be better and more appropriate. Similarly, parents should gradually permit a son or a daughter more freedom of action and responsibility.—1 Corinthians 13:11.
25 Love for your children is vital in order to help them with their problems. It should be the motive behind discipline, and it makes correction easier to take. Failure to provide guidance and discipline for one’s children is like denying one’s parenthood of them. This is explained at Hebrews 12:5-11, which points out that Jehovah himself gives discipline out of love.
26 Love for God is also important. This will move parents to hate things that God condemns, such as lying, greediness, stealing, homosexuality and fornication. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Psalm 97:10) Parents who thus show their love for God will set a proper example for children, which is important. Combined with this, parents should cultivate in their children the same hatred for what is bad as well as love for God and for what is fine.
27 Since the family is a young person’s primary world, parents should work to make that secure. It has been said that one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother. When homelife is based on love and Christian wisdom, young persons will have a firm foundation on which to stand. They will have sound standards and will be helped to consider their Creator from youth onward.—Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13, 14.
Music, dating, clothing, sports, school and other concerns of young persons are discussed in the light of the Bible in the book Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Why is happiness a challenge for young persons? (1-4)
Why should you take God into consideration? (5-8)
Why is it natural for you to be concerned about God’s will? (Psalm 128:1, 2) (9, 10)
If living with God in mind makes you different, is that bad? (11-14)
What reasons do you have to follow the Scriptures in your family? (15-20)
How can parents help their children follow a wise course? (21)
What sort of discipline should parents provide? (22-24)
How will family love affect youth problems? (25-27)
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FINDING PURPOSE IN LIFE
A department of the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan took a survey in various lands. It examined what young persons’ views are about life’s purpose and the future. Studying the results, Professor Sanshiro Shirakashi concluded that “the world’s youth have a pessimistic attitude” about the future, which affects their conduct and general outlook on life. But that can change.
A student named Linda relates: “From my studies in college, I could see that the life-style I was raised with was vanishing. Conditions all over the world were worsening, and I had no answers and no idea where to turn for answers.”
While she was home in California on vacation two of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at her door. She says: “They told me that the answers were to be found in the Bible. We discussed the paradise earth that God will establish under his new order and his promise to eliminate the wicked. I had never been taught that such wonderful truths were to be found in the Bible.”
After Linda returned to Arizona, she contacted the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted the offer of a free weekly Bible study. That helped her to learn standards that gave her life stability. Also, she gained purpose in life, so that today her life is much happier and more rewarding.
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Who cared for you when you were sick?
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Studying God’s Word helps youths to find happiness