When thinking about the "feel-good" drug, ecstasy, I can't help asking myself whether feeling good is so difficult that you need a drug to get there. Then I remember my own attempts to find happiness.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to go out drinking together. Religion was not a part of my life, and I was not feeling any particular warmth or goodness from God. I thought that alcohol relaxed me and made me feel more comfortable socially.
One night when my friends and I were drunk, we ran into a friend of my brother's whom I saw regularly at school, although we'd never really talked to each other. That night both of us were high, and I remember that he was very friendly. I was happy about our conversation and felt such a connection with him. I figured we would probably be more open with each other now and talk when we saw each other.
That Monday I saw him at school, and our relationship was just the same as it had been before. That was a jolt, because I had thought things would be different. But I realized that the feelings that night hadn't been genuine. They had no staying power because they were a delusion created by the alcohol.
I learned a huge lesson from that experience. It was part of the launching of my spiritual journey to move away from deceptive guises of happiness. I'd been misled to believe that this guy and I had made a connection, when that had not really happened. I knew that I would never again be fooled into thinking that alcohol could cause a relationship to open up. I needed to search for a more stable happiness.
During this time, my dad suggested that I go to a Christian Science Sunday School. That was the beginning of my study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy.
I began to learn that it is possible to feel bliss, but genuine bliss can't be brought on by drugs or alcohol. It isn't about just feeling good or doing something to yourself to feel better, but about recognizing your genuine spiritual and only state of being as one of happiness. This state is not a dreamy feeling where you never have problems. It's sincerely feeling your inseparability from God, Love, under every circumstance, good or bad. It involves thinking less about yourself and being willing to let God's active presence guide you.
Thinking that bliss is something outside of ourselves, found in certain substances or experiences, leaves us endlessly pursuing it because it isn't lasting or constant or real. Science and Health explains, "Sensualism is not bliss, but bondage. For true happiness, man must harmonize with his Principle, divine Love ..." (pg. 337). It's a kind of imprisonment to be controlled by something outside of ourselves and to always be chasing it.
So how do we go about attaining real happiness? We can begin with a heartfelt asking of God in prayer to show us the joy that is already part of our identity as His creation. We can honor God moment by moment as the source of every bit of good that comes into our lives, and enjoy the peace that comes with this.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). Making this idea practical little by little opened my thought to the presence of God, removing any desire to look for happiness in places it doesn't exist.
This demanded that I ask myself more regularly whether I was giving God the credit as the source of that good. On the other hand, it demanded that I also ask myself in the bad situations whether I was honoring happiness as a permanent, indestructible quality of my being which could never be taken away by bad feelings.
I keep learning more about this. I don't feel bliss every moment, but moments of joy have overcome sadness, disappointment, and discouragement. This is a promise to me that happiness does indeed come from God, and that each of us has the right to feel it more consistently.