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  • What Do You Want Out of Life?
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    AS A teen-ager, how are you responding to that question? Knowingly or unknowingly, you are answering the question, What do you want out of life? You are answering it by what you are doing, by your actions. You cannot escape it, your actions today are going to affect your life tomorrow. Whatever you sow today you will unquestionably reap in the future . ‘You will eat from the fruitage of your way.’​— Prov. 1:31; Gal. 6:7 .

    Although your teen-age years constitute a relatively short space of time in comparison with the normal life-span, what you are doing during these formative years will have a profound effect on what you will receive out of life. In this sense you are comparable to a young tree, which, if it does not grow erect in its youthful years, will be crooked the rest of its life. So, in what direction are you headed? What kind of a foundation are you laying for future life? Just what do your actions indicate you want out of life?

    IN SEARCH OF THE “HAPPY LIFE”

    In view of the things many youths are doing these days it would appear they are not sure there is going to be a future for which to live. The attitude they have apparently adopted is, ‘Let’s live it up today, for there may not be a tomorrow.’ And, for many young folks there proves to be no tomorrow. They unwittingly decide that for themselves, oftentimes just by one regrettable act. It may be by taking just one “trip out of this world” with LSD. For some it has been the “trip of no return.”

    Others, in search of the “happy life,” try smoking “pot” or marijuana. But to what can this form of “entertainment” lead? One twenty-year-old Vancouver college student discovered that the Canadian government takes a different view of the “weed” than its users. Before he knew it, he was ‘lying in the dirt in jail, near hysteria, considering what he would tell his parents.’ Although this young man was given a two-year suspended sentence, he was reminded by the magistrate that marijuana offenses are punishable in Canada by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Is that what you want out of life?

    News reports tell of another new “kick” for that “high feeling,” inhaling spray

    deodorant vapors. Does it sound inoffensive to you? Or could such a practice adversely affect your future ? Recently it seriously affected the future of a fifteen-year-old boy, for he died of suffocation. Glue sniffing can be just as harmful. Commenting on the concern of federal government officials over the increased interest in this “potentially deadly game,” the Montreal Gazette

    reported: “The concern arises from the fact that glue-sniffing is far more dangerous to the human body than such drugs as marijuana, and can lead directly to liver and kidney damage, anemia, brain damage, and even death.”

    While such practices are often death-dealing in themselves, what they often lead to can also result in other severe consequences. For instance, the use of LSD, marijuana and solvents for “kicks” often leads to drug addiction. And what do drug addicts want in life? More drugs. And what is their life like as a result? Said one female addict: “We are all animals in a world no one knows. We’ll step on one another for a shot if there’s no dope. I’m no different from any of the others. I’ll beat somebody for their money just as fast as look at them. That’s why I say we’re animals.” If you do not want to become one of those “animals,” then you will not want to seek your excitement via the drug or glue-sniffing route. You, too, could become “hooked.”

    The glue sniffers, the “pot” smokers, the drug addicts, the drunkards, those seeking first the gratifying of the flesh, are not the truly happy, satisfied ones. By their unprincipled actions they are merely compounding their difficulties. And many of you teen-agers know that. Thus one teen-age girl, bent on the pursuit of pleasure, calmly viewed suicide as the way out if things got too complicated.

    That many young people are looking to suicide as the way out is evident from the report that it is now the second cause of death among the fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds in America. But since when do people commit suicide because of having such a good time? Obviously their pursuit of the “happy life” has been misdirected. They have been disillusioned. This raises the question: In what way can you satisfy your desire for fun without jeopardizing your prospects for a happy future ?

    SENSIBLY SATISFYING DESIRE FOR “GOOD TIMES”

    Many young folks are of the opinion that they must isolate themselves from older folks, such as parents, if they are going to have a good time. But others, instead of disdainfully considering parents and older friends as “old fogies” or “killjoys,” have come to appreciate that older folks can contribute much to their enjoyment. And in this day, when many children and parents are practically strangers to one another, there is the advantage of drawing family members closer together. No doubt your parents would be very happy to have you suggest doing something together for diversion. But, what to do?

    It is always exciting to go places, is it not? Are you acquainted with the tourist attractions in your area? Other persons travel many miles to see them. Have you ever been to a publishing house, an auction, or passed a few hours as a spectator in court? Or, more appealing to you may be hiking in the woods or fields, climbing a mountain trail or camping under the stars. Hobbies such as photography or studying the habits of wildlife can add to your joy on such excursions.

    A game of baseball can be very enjoyable too, can it not? If Dad has had all he can physically take after an inning or two, at least he can serve as umpire. In some parts of the world families and friends get together for an outing and make a soccer game the big attraction, while others like to swim. Where the winters are cold, there are such exciting sports as skiing, ice skating and tobogganing to be enjoyed.

    Where the entertainment is wholesome and upbuilding, a pleasant time is also in the offing when friends come together for a social evening. On such occasions young and old may enjoy a good old-fashioned square dance. Others perhaps are able to entertain with song or music, or all can join in singing familiar tunes. Some may engage in a game of darts or table tennis. On occasion, slides or movies may be shown. At such gatherings cultivate the habit of being a good conversationalist. Take an interest in meeting new people. You will find that people are interesting.

    Of course, to satisfy your desire for entertainment you do not always have to be with others. Some youths enjoy having a skill or hobby. It may be rock collecting, leather tooling, woodworking, sculpturing, painting, sewing, cooking, or another of any number of practical hobbies. Or, you can be an armchair traveler through the medium of good books.

    It is necessary to view “good times” in the right perspective. While your Creator is “the happy God” and wants you to be happy too, he did not purpose that recreation occupy first place in your life. Those youngsters who love God and who are not making the pursuit of pleasure the thing of first importance in life do not lead a life of boredom because of being unoccupied. They have plenty to do in works that are worth while, finding satisfaction therein, but for a change of pace they enjoy entertainment and recreation.​— 1 Tim. 1:11; Matt. 6:33 .

    FOLLY OF PURSUING MATERIAL POSSESSIONS

    Is there not a tendency among many youths to have an unrestrained desire for material things such as fine clothes, a stereo set or even a car? But you might ask: “What is wrong with having nice clothes, a stereo set or even a car?” As in the case of pleasure, there is nothing wrong with such things in themselves. They may be very useful and practical. But what is wrong is the attitude many have toward them. They magnify their importance all out of proportion, making their possession the objective in living. But just consider what this unrestrained love of material things can lead to, how it may well affect your future .

    For one thing, it leads to lawlessness. Think of the vast number of vices that exist because of the lust for money. That the determination to be rich often leads to lawless practices is borne out by the statement by Sergeant D. Bellamy, head of the Vancouver city police youth squad, who said: “Commercialism is one of the squad’s greatest enemies because unless a boy has spending power, he sometimes cannot mix with his group and this often leads him to supplement his income by illegal means.” The Bible proverb makes the same point, saying: “He that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.”​— Prov. 28:20 .

    Besides breeding lawlessness, the desire to be rich also breeds discontent. Why is it that the more people have, the more ambitious they are to have more? Could it be that material possessions do not really satisfy? Obviously, that is the answer, for the inspired record says: “A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income.” (Eccl. 5:10 ) Since the list of material things available to those with money is virtually without end, those making material possessions a goal in themselves do not have an objective that is attainable. As a result they are left frustrated, as if on a merry-go-round that never stops.

    Those having their mind set on the accumulation of riches are building on a foundation that is crumbling because they are supposing that money will always have value. Yet, devaluation is the order of the day, and in the near future at the war of Armageddon what Ezekiel 7:19 says will come true: “Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become.” So, if you do not want to lead a life of disillusionment and frustration, beware of sacrificing it on the altar of materialism.

    EFFECT OF ASSOCIATIONS ON YOUR

    FUTURE

    In considering what you want out of life you must give serious consideration to the company you keep. That is because your associates affect not only what you are doing now but also your prospects for the future . Whether you will “become wise” or will “fare badly” depends on your choice of companions. The inspired proverb makes this point when it says: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Prov. 13:20 ) The need to be very selective in choosing companions, then, is obvious, is it not? Yet, many young persons are unsuccessful in making a wise choice. Why?

    Is it not because of their desire to be “in” with the crowd, to be accepted? However, if you do not choose your companions wisely, your desire to be accepted can have serious implications. Why? Because of the pressure to conform and the tendency to imitate. It is unnatural to want to be different. Oh, it is true that many young persons make the claim of being individualists. Yet, by conforming to the group in hairstyle, dress, speech and actions, do they not show themselves to be conformists to the group that they have chosen?

    To illustrate how your desire to be accepted by the group can seriously affect your future , let us suppose that a teen-age girl is anxious to be accepted by other girls who are popular among the boys. She finds herself at a party where, because of not wanting to be “chicken,” she smokes “pot.” Since, after smoking marijuana, she ‘feels she loves everybody,’ she also commits fornication. What could be the result? Pregnancy, venereal disease, remorse, loss of self-respect, and more​—in short, her prospects for a happy future jeopardized because she wanted to be accepted by the crowd.

    So, on this matter of associations, “do not be misled.” Just as good fruit becomes spoiled when in contact with bad, so “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33 ) You are revealing what you want out of life by your choice of companions. The best way to avoid bad associations is to cultivate good ones, not those who are living for the pleasure of the moment or merely for the acquisition of material possessions, but those who are living with their future in mind and who will help you do the same.

    PRACTICAL PREPARATION FOR THE

    FUTURE

    You are growing up in a world where much emphasis is being placed on education. While millions of youths are not privileged to receive even a basic education due to poverty or inadequate educational facilities, others show contempt for school by playing hooky or attend only because they have to. Do you manifest such indifference toward your schooling? Or do you manifest the recognition that the education and skills you acquire now will have a great bearing on what you will get out of life?

    Schooling involves more than book learning. It also involves the developing of abilities, habits and attitudes. Through

    this development a foundation is being laid on which you will build throughout the rest of your life. Therefore, in connection with your schooling, look beyond the present.

    Habits you acquire now during your formative years will in later years be automatic, to your benefit or to your detriment, depending on whether the habit is good or bad. For example, if you learn to exercise your brain now by applying yourself to your studies, thinking and reasoning powers will be developed that you will use every day of your life.

    Your preparation for the future involves more than just your schooling. At home, too, you should be developing qualities or traits that will later identify you as a mature adult. Cultivate such qualities as orderliness, cooperativeness, submissiveness, humility, dependability, initiative and thoroughness. The possession of such will have a profound effect on your relations with others and on privileges received.

    ACTING WISELY ON THE BASIS OF THE ‘HIGHEST EDUCATION’

    As important as your secular education may be, there is another education that is indispensable if you are going to be truly successful in life. You need to be educated in the Bible, the Word of God. Concerning this ‘highest education’ American educator William Lyon Phelps wrote:

    “Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated; and no other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can . . . form a proper substitute. . . . I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.”

    Did you know that part of the Bible was written specifically for the benefit of young people? The book of Proverbs, for example, was written “to give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man knowledge and thinking ability.” (Prov. 1:4 ) Among other things, the Bible will show you the advantage that true godly wisdom has over money. (Prov. 3:13-18; Eccl. 7:12 ) And its counsel will safeguard you against the way of regret and heartache.​— Proverbs, chapters 1, 5, 7 .

    With your future in view, God’s Word wisely admonishes: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” (Eccl. 12:1 ) Hundreds of thousands of youths, the world over, appreciating their indebtedness to their Creator, are remembering him by serving as witnesses to God and his kingdom. Hundreds of them are involved in the printing of this magazine and the many other publications of the Watch Tower Society. You may see them at work in the Society’s printing plants in such cities as London, New York, Helsinki, Toronto and Wiesbaden.

    Such Christian youths know what they want out of life. Enlightened by Bible prophecies, they know that current world events mean that this present system of things with its hypocritical false religion, greedy commercialism and corrupt politics shortly now will be destroyed. So they wisely are building with a view to life in God’s righteous new order. They know that an eternity of tomorrows comes from remembering their Creator today, and, with a hope based on the promises of God, who cannot lie, they want to live a purposeful, happy life without end right here on this beautiful earth. Do you, too, want to embrace such a solid hope? Then respond to these words found in the Bible: “Choose life in order that you may keep alive . . . by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him; for he is your life and the length of your days.”​— Deut. 30:19, 20 .

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