In her article titled “Positively Downbeat,” Newsweek writer Julie Baird reported that 4,000 books were published on happiness in 2008, up from 50 in 2000. The article indicates that the search for happiness continues to grow. And Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project” recently reached No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.
Because many of us spend a substantial amount of our waking hours at work, if there are conflicts on the job, or if the job isn’t using our talents and capabilities, happiness can feel pretty shaky. A sense of purpose, fulfillment, and progress has a direct bearing on a person’s happiness. So it’s normal to expect meaning and happiness there. But if these seem elusive, maybe there’s a need to look in an entirely different, more spiritual, direction. This might mean forsaking current definitions and human scenarios of what we think happiness should look like or where we’ll find it.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the Monitor, addressed the subject of happiness throughout her book for spiritual thinkers, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” In one place she wrote, “Experience should be the school of virtue, and human happiness should proceed from man’s highest nature” (p. 65).
Many years ago, at the beginning of my career, I struggled with a restlessness that I was missing out on something somewhere else. I thought the problem was the work, but as I began to pray, I saw I was accepting habitual thoughts of dissatisfaction as part of my life. They were ruling me and hiding my awareness of the spiritual nature God gives to all of us.
I also realized that these feelings of dissatisfaction were definitely not part of God’s plan for me or for anyone. They come from what the Bible calls “the carnal mind” – that which is opposed to God and Godlike thinking.
The Bible says some very simple but direct things about happiness and makes clear that it comes from finding that God is its source, rather than from pursuing happiness as an end in itself. If we seek happiness in material situations – a job, a house, a car, or even people – we’re building on shaky ground. Human conditions are inherently changeable, but God is always with us.
A psalm says, “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (146:5). Happiness comes from God, the Principle that links every right idea, relationship, and activity in harmony, through spiritual law. As divine Love, God brings happiness because Love never stops giving.
As I prayed with these ideas, the feelings of dissatisfaction and mental harassment came to an end. I saw that being compassionate, patient, and willing to give selflessly was my real work. I had to express these qualities because that’s what I was created to do. They became more real to me than the feelings of discontent. This spiritual viewpoint freed me, and it became natural to enjoy my work in all the different positions I held throughout my career.
Each of us can pray sincerely and humbly to seek the one God, who includes all our satisfaction, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment, and who is ready to reveal our spiritual nature and goodness every moment.
This is possible for all men, women, and children because we are created in God’s likeness, designed to fulfill His purpose by expressing harmony, goodness, and freedom. As we yield to the divine plan, we will find new opportunities for happiness from God, the Creator and author of our very existence, including our careers.
It’s never too late to begin cultivating our “highest nature” – the spiritual nature that God has given us. It is ever active and never lacking in fresh channels through which we can enjoy and express God-given abilities. Our happiness is secure there and will help us with a freer, lighter heart to experience fulfillment in every aspect of our work.