Governments measuring happiness? At first this struck me as odd, but maybe it’s not. In 1972, the King of Bhutan said, “Gross national happiness is more important than gross national product.” His surveys resulted in publishing numerical results in health, education, and psychological well-being. Now other nations are following suit.
How natural it is for all of us to want a happiness that doesn’t vacillate or vanish. Yet projects that seek happiness indices suggest that people are still on the search for its deeper meaning.
All kinds of situations seem to interrupt happiness, particularly conflicts in relationships – not getting along with others or feeling hurt by something someone has said or done. Trials like these have pushed me to pray, to seek with purer motives the happiness that comes from God. This in reality can’t be taken from any of us, even when relationships feel out of order. Understanding the nature of Soul, which is a synonym for God, has given me a more profound joy and satisfaction that are spiritual and innate to every man, woman, and child.
The joy of Soul has nothing to do with what the material senses are saying is happening within our relationships. In fact, the material senses can neither improve nor hinder the happiness of relationships that are grounded in Soul. Praying to understand that God is the only source of harmony shows us how to bring our affections and desires in line with Him. Soul shows us how to identify others spiritually and how to align our actions toward others with expressions of His love.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, elucidated the meaning of true happiness throughout her major book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She not only wrote about how we can gain the understanding of our God-given happiness, but also how to nullify a false material identity that keeps us from experiencing it consistently. She wrote, “Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, – to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success” (p. 405). Anger, envy, and distrust must be destroyed by our recognizing that these are no part of anyone’s true spiritual nature – the only nature we have.
I saw this so clearly when I had a clash with a family member that left us not communicating with each other for six years. Although this didn’t affect me all the time, it was a dark area in my thought that would rise to the surface at different times, bringing with it very unhappy feelings. I tried to reopen the communication with letters, but to no avail.
Then through patiently praying, I began to release my human effort to restore a happy situation and to trust God. When this individual came to thought, I would quietly acknowledge that Love was the source of us both, bringing only good, unity, and peace. I didn’t think about a particular outcome, but I continued to acknowledge this spiritual fact for all God’s creation. I began to feel light where darkness had been.
Several years later when a difficult situation arose in our family, this person called me for comfort and also to comfort me. As we both apologized for the past, I felt the simplicity of Love’s action. As grateful as I was for the call, I was more grateful that I was ready for it, having released remorse and unhappiness about our relationship.
“Happy the man whose treasure-trove is wisdom, who is rich in discernment” (Prov. 3:13, “The Holy Bible: A Translation From the Latin Vulgate in the Light of the Hebrew and Greek Originals”). Such happiness is the very substance of our existence – intact and inexhaustible.
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