Several times lately I've heard that old song, ''Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe.'' Each time I've thought: ''That title! What a clever way to describe a misconception of happiness--a misconception that has probably been one of the greatest causes of unhappiness since time began: the feeling that our well-being depends on a special person.''
Many of us who are happily married believe, or at least are tempted to believe, the song title is absolutely right. But if it is, what about those who never marry? Or those who are divorced? Or others who, for some reason not of their own choosing, are alone? Would it be fair to them if their happiness actually did hinge on another person's presence and loyalty?
No, it wouldn't be. Nor is it in accord with God's law, which is always loving and impartial. ''God is love,'' n1 the Bible assures us. And in the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.' '' n2
n1 I John 4:8.
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13
If one looks to divine Love for happiness, he will find it-and it will be expressed in the most appropriate relationships. But when one personalizes happiness - that is, sees it as originating in person instead of God - he can lose it, or never really find it.
Joy, love, satisfaction, are components of happiness. But we need to recognize their actual nature as spiritual, the outcome of God, rather than as sensual and finite. In proportion as we do elevate, or spiritualize, our concept of these qualities, we'll begin to find true happiness.
Christ Jesus reassured his disciples, ''Your joy no man taketh from you.'' n3 No one can take your joy from you when you recognize that it comes from God.
n3 John 16:22
Yet someone may ask, ''How can you be happy with 'just God'?''
Christian Science doesn't ask us to abandon those close to us. Rather, through its practice we find relationships harmonized, enriched. The Science of Christianity is practical. It never ignores the human need but meets it.
When we seek happiness in God, in Soul, this in no way means that we must somehow learn to be happy without friends, family, husband, or wife. It doesn't necessarily mean we must give up Joe or Mary or whomever we might believe our happiness depends upon. It does mean we should recognize that the good we love in Joe or Mary proceeds from Soul. As the child of God, man's good is not a personal possession but a spiritual expression. To the degree that we know this our happiness is assured.
It is in the chapter ''Marriage'' in the Christian Science textbook that we find this statement: ''Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul.'' n4
n4 Science and Health, p. 60
To the extent that we give up the belief that ''happiness is a thing called Joe'' and seek it in Soul, we'll find our lives overflowing with joy and satisfaction-with a happiness that is ''secure in our keeping.'' DAIL BIBLE VERSE My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19