This statement, which is consistent with other reserarch I've read regarding persons born after 1980, comes from a Nov. 30 New York Times opinion entitled Millennial Searchers by Emily Esfahani Smith, an editor at The New Criterion and Defining Ideas, a Hoover Institution journal, and Jennifer L. Aaker, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
While Smith and Aaker acknowledge that "meaning" is subjective, a new study done by Aaker and others reveals that "having a sense of meaning is not the same as feeling happy."
"Those who reported having a meaningful life saw themselves as more other-oriented — by being, more specifically, a 'giver.' People who said that doing things for others was important to them reported having more meaning in their lives."
"This was in stark contrast to those who reported having a happy life. Happiness was associated with being more self-oriented — by being a 'taker.' People felt happy, in a superficial sense, when they got what they wanted, and not necessarily when they put others first."
Christian churches who seek to reach today's college students will be wise to emphasize what is meaningful, which necessarily includes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but may start with what students already recognize as having meaning, such as service on behalf of others (which will open doors to share the Gospel).
I would welcome the opportunity to help your church serve college students. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.