ALL of us want to be happy, to feel cared for, and to have value. But sometimes we reach what seems like a dead end, and our life seems hopeless. These conditions arise because we have misunderstood a fundamental point about happiness, namely that materialism is not its source.
Much as we might wish for a new car, a new job, a new husband, or a new home, the fact is that unless we gain a more permanent--a more spiritual--sense of what happiness is, any lessening of our depression or hopelessness is only temporary. So it's valid to ask: Where do we find happiness?
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, gives us an essential clue to the source of happiness in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says: ``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).
The Bible, especially in Psalms and in Proverbs, confirms the spiritual nature of happiness, telling us that it is to be found in our relationship to God. ``Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding,'' one verse in Proverbs declares (3:13). We find this wisdom as we understand that we are in fact spiritual, the children of God and the focus of His care.
Christ Jesus proved this in his own life. Loved and adored by his followers, he knew certain Pharisees wanted to kill him. Yet just before he was arrested and crucified, he spoke with his most faithful followers. He told them, John's Gospel records, that when they understood the scope of his mission, ``Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you (16:22).
His disciples didn't understand this point all at once, but as they put into practice what he had told them, their confidence in God increased and their joy grew also. I learned the value of practicing even a little bit of this spiritual outlook when I first began to study Christian Science. At the time, I routinely experienced mood swings--that is, I would be very happy for a while and then suddenly feel the darkest gloom.
A good friend of mine, a Christian Scientist, spoke earnestly to me about the importance of being cheerful instead of gloomy because joy more fully expressed my nature as God's child. I was reluctant to do this because I thought of my heavy spirit as my own unique identity that showed all that I had been through.
Then I discovered this quotation in Mrs. Eddy's sermon entitled Christian Healing. She writes, ``If you wish to be happy, argue with yourself on the side of happiness; take the side you wish to carry, and be careful not to talk on both sides, or to argue stronger for sorrow than for joy (p. 10).
I took this advice to heart. The result was a dramatic change in my thought that enabled me not only to have a much more balanced temperament but also to view the world with genuine hope. This didn't occur because I ignored my own troubles or the difficulties in the world. Instead, it was the natural outcome of learning that prayer is a viable way to find solutions to these problems. This change in outlook led to new relationships, new opportunities. Arguing on the side of happiness literally changed my life by enabling me to solve, not ignore, my problems.
As you seek happiness, argue on its side! Recognizing its source as God, divine Love, you can expect to find proof of Jesus' promise--no man can take your joy from you. And as you do this, you won't need to argue so much for happiness because you will be busy living it!