Happiness! Where can we discover it? Of what does it consist? How do we keep the real thing when we find it? Human answers range from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Happiness is sought in career, in marriage, in countless ways. But in all cases, it is clearly wiser to bring happiness to a situation, rather than to seek it there. It is something one needs, and can find, within oneself.
Perhaps Tennyson encapsulated a glimpse of the upper reaches of thought where true happiness is experienced when he wrote, ''Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers,/ Whose loves in higher loves endure.''n1 That kind of happiness springs from love that does not need a human focal point to call it forth, yet constantly loves, and loves to love. But the reverse, self-centeredness, never finds its longed-for happiness.
n1 Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memorium A. H. H."
Almost unconsciously, some people come to think of Christ Jesus as only the man of sorrows. They miss the fact that he was also a man of God-given joy. For those with eyes to see, flashes of humor sparkle in the Bible record of Jesus' ministry. For example, to speak of putting a candle under a bed (itself most often flat on the floor in those days) must at least have made his hearers smile , if not laugh aloud at the very suggestion.
Jesus made a strong plea to his disciples to abide in him n2 - not in his person but in the nature of the Christ-man he illustrated, the immortal reflection of God he so perfectly presented. And Jesus went on to say, ''These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.'' n3
n2 See John 15:1 - 7.
n3 John 15:11.
A bit later comes his amazing promise ''Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. ... ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.'' n4 Clearly, this must mean much more than asking for things, more than merely repeating some formula, such as ''Please God, fix this for me, because I'm asking in Jesus' name.''
n4 John 16:23,24.
To ask in his name must mean for us to ask with at least something of the same Christly nature abiding within ourselves. It was Jesus' deep spirituality that visibly outshone his material, temporary selfhood at the transfiguration and triumphed over death at the resurrection. Therefore, to ask not because of his name but in the very nature of the Christ is to ask with the power of God already embracing our prayer. The only way we can possibly do this is to turn to the Father as unreservedly as Jesus did, to pray until in humility we see ourselves as possessing, in fact, a joyous, Christly selfhood.
It was the Master's urgent desire, and daily labor of love, to demonstrate his true selfhood to be Godlike, the spiritual image of God. And we can, at least in some degree, do the same. Jesus' sorrows stemmed in part from the fact that so few would really listen, perhaps because so many missed his point regarding happiness, that man's sonship with God confers it. But he did not let that take away one iota of his own joy in being the Son of the everlasting Father of all.
Referring to God as Principle, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Harmony is produced by its Principle, is controlled by it and abides with it. Divine Principle is the Life of man. Man's happiness is not, therefore, at the disposal of physical sense.'' n5
n5 Science & Health with key to the Scriptures,p.304.
This real happiness, or joy, is a power. When seen and demonstrated, it is impervious to unhappiness, because it is based elsewhere than in mortal hopes and material things.
Modern democratic governments presuppose mankind's right to seek happiness. Perhaps this God-given right means, not the right to chase perpetually after happiness, but the right actually to be engaged in it.
If mortals pursue happiness in material things, they never catch it. But as we learn that immortal, spiritual man is naturally joyful, we seek and find eternal things. Mortality, because it is essentially empty, contains the very seed of unhappiness. Immortality is itself the foundation of eternal happiness, because in it we find ourselves to be the children of the living God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:. . . behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20,21