It would be safe to say that we each are involved in the pursuit of happiness as we understand it. The highest sense of happiness could well be defined as world peace. Wrapped up in this are many other noble pursuits: good health, contentment, serenity, ample income, having fun, satisfying employment, stimulating relationships, sound marriages. Fearless living is certainly included, and this could encompass freedom from fear of disease, accident, and death, as well as everyday security in moving about free from burglary, physical attack, abuse.
Recent studies have associated happiness with genetics. In other words, some believe that we are born either with an ability or an inability to be happy. An article from USA Weekend entitled "Our mood meter" recently asked "Is our potential for happiness genetically sealed?" (January 26, 1997, p. 18). According to the article, research psychologists at the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois, studying this phenomenon, have determined, ". . . no matter what happens, people tend to return to a genetically fixed level of happiness." The article also says genes may affect your happiness more than do money, love, and work.
Should we try to be happy even though our genes tell us otherwise? Researchers (or "happiologists," as I've heard them called) say some ways to attain a level of happiness are through deep-rooted, intimate relationships, belief in God, adopting achievable, realistic goals, never saying "never," proper exercise and sleep, and smiling.
Many people in this world have looked to Jesus Christ for an example of how to live their lives. Evidently he did not own a house, had no wife or children, and didn't have much money. What he did possess was a closeness to God. He referred to God as his Father. He showed God to be divine Love. He acted with a certainty that God is the one affluent power and that all he needed came from God. According to the Scriptures Jesus lacked no needful thing. His conviction that happiness must be based on what God gives is evident in his declaration "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). The added things he was referring to were food, drink, and clothing, all essentials for human comfort.
Christian Science, which reveals the spiritual laws underlying what Jesus taught and lived, was discovered in 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy. It presents the sometimes startling conclusion that our happiness-our health, peace, safety, love-has its source in God alone. Happiness is then as immutable, permanent, always present, as God is. Since God is, as the Bible says, Spirit, happiness cannot lie in physical, material genes.
Eddy's book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, says: "Beauty, wealth, or fame is incompetent to meet the demands of the affections, and should never weigh against the better claims of intellect, goodness, and virtue. Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love" (p. 57). Later, in reference to God as the divine Principle of our being, is this statement: "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" (p. 304).
In our own pursuit of happiness, you and I can look to God. He is the source of true happiness. Understanding our health, safety, and love to be permanent in God makes our lives healthier, safer, and lovelier because thought has outward expression. Happiness is not precarious when we're conscious of God.
This attainment of true happiness involves more than a quest or a striving, both of which would suggest that we do not possess happiness now, that it is indeed dependent on human circumstances and genetics. The fact is, happiness is a quality inherent in our identity as God's sons and daughters. We are heirs to an abundant supply of good. This is cause for great joy.
You'll find more articles discussing your God-given right to be happy in The Christian Science Journal.