In the new electronic universe of cyberspace, you can take any word, plug it into a search engine, and find all the references to that word on the Internet. According to one of these search engines, the Internet currently hosts over 80,000 references to the word happiness. And more are added all the time.
Being able to search so fruitfully for the use of that word in cyberspace is all very well and good, but doing so doesn't guarantee that we'll find happiness itself. For most of us, this is the crux of the matter; how do you unearth and keep hold of genuine happiness? A quick survey would suggest that the key to happiness could lie in many places-from hypnotism to home-brew beer, from tapping one's inner energies to unlocking the secrets of eternal youth. Such means of finding happiness assume it is a commodity we either will or won't have, on the basis of the material possessions we own, our physical attractiveness, or other fluctuating factors. This might be called the "material model" of happiness.
In contrast, a better model for searching out and sustaining happiness is a more "mental" model-revealing happiness that is found in God. The life of Jesus Christ, recorded in the Bible, shows the results of seeking and finding a more spiritual happiness. The power Jesus derived from communion with God was all-powerful; by it the sick were healed, those who lacked food were fed, and people looking for satisfaction in sin were encouraged to turn from their self-destructive tendencies.
Like Jesus, we can take up a prayerful, God-focused approach to healing. It's in following his example each day that we come increasingly into line with God, the source of all true happiness. God is eternally satisfied with His entire creation, including you and me. As God's image, we express divine satisfaction. The desire to find our spiritual identity is a type of prayer, which helps us avoid looking fruitlessly for happiness in ways that are self-serving, immoral, or illegal. According to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science in 1866, "The good in human affections must have ascendency over the evil and the spiritual over the animal, or happiness will never be won" (p. 61).
I've found this to be true. Earlier in my life the self-centered pursuit of happiness led only to frustration, disappointment, and many trials. More recently, though, I have learned how to let the good and the spiritual increasingly guide my motives and actions. Not only have I found a happiness that's much less fragile but I've also found healing in my life. I have become convinced that the best way to ensure happiness is a method indicated in the Bible's book of Job, which says, "Acquaint now thyself with him [God], and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee" (22:21).
What those words indicate to me, and what I have seen time and again, is that our thinking is transformed as we learn of God. This leads to changes in our human lives. Our true purpose is to love God and to glorify Him. Coming to understand God intelligently brings the conviction that we have a divine right to be profoundly happy. We experience spiritual joy in practical ways by seeking to express the good qualities of God. It's not effective to seek God only to achieve human comfort; but knowing Him better truly does make one happy. And greater harmony in all areas of life must follow as a blessing.
You may seem to be on the roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that characterize human happiness. But wherever you are, you can always seek to still your thought, turn to God, and feel His presence. This may not always be as easy as plugging words into an Internet search engine, but it is infinitely more effective. It reveals true happiness-a happiness that forever belongs to us all.
You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, at www.tfccs.com.