Lasting Happiness

WWEDNESDAY and Thursday had left me feeling very happy. On Wednesday I had read a paper a friend had written for a university course she was taking, and the thesis of the paper was an exhilarating one. On Thursday I attended a concert in which another friend performed, and it was most enjoyable.

But Friday--Friday was a different story. The day's events left me feeling disappointed and rather unhappy. And this wasn't the first time in my life that I had switched from being happy to something quite a bit less. I could identify with the distress in a passage from Job in the Bible: ``When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day'' (7:4). Yet I felt sure in my heart that lasting happiness is possible, and not just in some afterlife.

Saturday morning came, and as I read Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, a particular passage caught my eye. She points out: ``Mortal belief is a liar from the beginning, not deserving power. It says to mortals, `You are wretched!' and they think they are so; and nothing can change this state, until the belief changes.'' Mrs. Eddy also notes that the process can run in the opposite direction: ``Mortal belief says, `You are happy!' and mortals are so; and no circumstance can alter the situation, until the belief on this subject changes'' (pp. 296-297).

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This started to open my eyes. Events or circumstances weren't making me happy or not so happy. It was mortal belief--the notion that man is strictly a material creature with a material body living in a material world, more or less cut off from God, Spirit-- that was doing it. And the way to the permanent joy I longed for was to identify myself as God's image and likeness, created spiritually and never separated from God.

This, of course, is the way Christ Jesus identified himself-- saying, for instance, ``I and my Father are one'' (John 10:30). He taught others this fact of man's spiritual oneness with God, and his lifework shows the goodness and happiness such a view brings. Jesus proved over and over--by healing sickness, providing sustenance, calming storms--that goodness is always ours. He didn't allow mortal belief to cloud his perception of his or others' God-given spiritual identity. And ongoing goodness and happiness were the practical result.

Like Jesus, we can cut to the core of the matter and prove the presence of God, of good, in our lives. If we think that events have to change for us to be happy, we're wrong. Instead, it's our thought--and our own actions--that has to change. Seeing that we and others are in fact spiritual is a source of real happiness. As we act with the assurance that this spiritual view gives us, no mortal belief can make us unhappy. And then, as Jesus' life and works show, circumstances around us change to reflect the spiritually based joy that comes from God and is always present.

So there is a practical way to have lasting happiness. As we identify ourselves as children of God, we put off the mortal belief that says we can be cut off from God and subject to unhappy circumstances. There's no need to delay in finding this happiness! In fact, as we start doing it now, we are finding out what immortality--man's genuine selfhood--is all about. Mrs. Eddy puts it best when she says in Science and Health: ``The admission to one's self that man is God's own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea. This conviction shuts the door on death, and opens it wide towards immortality'' (p. 90). Now there's lasting happiness!

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