Happiness in full measure
A Christian Science perspective: What is it that makes you truly happy?
My son told me about a new application that allows you to record your happiness level and the things that make you happy with smiley faces. The point of this exercise is not only to take note of your periods of happiness, but also to be more aware of what makes you happy and what doesn’t.
The pursuit of happiness has always been a human right, but amid all the social media sharing today, many of us get caught up in measuring our happiness in relation to that of others. Too often the pursuit seems more like a wild-goose chase – running after grander experiences, bigger careers, and more possessions. But no matter how many things we attain, happiness isn’t necessarily one of them. During the holiday season, when gift giving and merrymaking abound, it’s a good time to earnestly consider what makes us truly happy.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes of the elusive nature of materially based happiness in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “The beliefs we commonly entertain about happiness and life afford no scatheless and permanent evidence of either” (p. 232). She also writes, “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it” (p. 57).
Happiness is not dependent on material gain or wealth, because it is a spiritual quality. As a spiritual quality, it is an indestructible part of our God-given character. But if we aren’t feeling happiness, what do we do to find it?
It is “born of Truth and Love,” which are biblical names for God. Happiness, then, comes from God, not from people or from acquiring earthly belongings. As we learn of our relationship to God, as His image, we begin to see that happiness is innate to our being. It’s the joy we feel in loving God and loving others, and in knowing God’s constant love for us. Understanding that we are cherished by God, as the children of Truth and Love, brings true satisfaction.
And spiritual happiness exists to be shared; as Mrs. Eddy points out, happiness “cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” Perhaps no one showed a better example of selfless sharing than Christ Jesus. During one of the most personally challenging times in his life, he knelt down and washed the feet of his closest students at a religious supper. He said, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.... If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:15, 17). His humble act was a spiritual lesson for his followers to lovingly lift others to their higher, spiritual nature, which promotes real happiness and selfless love.
This holiday season let’s stop chasing after happiness in all the wrong places, and discover the full capacity for joy innate to our being through cherishing God’s love for all, and expressing that love toward others.