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How's life treating you?

From the January 16, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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Usually, that question is meant just as a way of saying hello.  “Great . . . fine,” we answer, without really thinking about it. When we do stop to consider the question for a moment or two, often the way we believe life is treating us equates with things such as how many people are pleased with us at the moment, the numbers in our bank accounts, the state of our nation, our health, our living space, or finding successful spots in the workplace.

Really, though, couldn’t there be a little more to what makes us happy? Joy may not always be linked with conditions external to us. There was an interesting study done one time that compared the level of happiness of a group of people who’d been in accidents in contrast with the level of happiness for a group of lottery winners. Initially, as you might imagine, the first group of people were generally less happy than those in the second group. Yet, surprisingly, the levels of happiness for people in both groups actually returned over time to somewhat similar levels they’d had before any accident or unexpected riches.

In other words, if someone was cranky and sullen before winning a gargantuan pile of money in the lottery, he or she returned to that same crankiness within just a few months! Permanent joy couldn’t be purchased even with stacks of cash. Could it be that such anger and unhappiness possibly come from the inside—could they be almost habitual?

You're not happy because you're willing yourself to be so; you're happy because God literally is your Life!

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love,” explains Mary Baker Eddy on page 57 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Happiness born of the Truth and Love that is God—that is such a momentous idea, in contrast with happiness born only of material conditions! Some people, before getting out of bed in the morning, have already decided to love the day, including everyone in it. It’s a decision they make with every sunrise. They are distinctly aware that they have a choice; they could spend the day ruminating about past injustices and recounting wrongs others have done to them, or they can behold each day as a gift—filled generously hour by hour with the goodness and wonder of God. Clearly, it is something altogether different to look exclusively to Truth and Love for satisfaction and joy.

When you stop to think about it, a “happiness” based on material conditions is quite easily removed and is really no happiness at all. Christian Science teaches that “earth has little light or joy for mortals before Life is spiritually learned” (Science and Health, p. 548). This Life that is God is exempt from the ups and downs of mortality. It is constant and enduring, deathless and ever-present, whole and completely good. Christian Science reveals that divine Life is actually your only Life, and is that which provides you with your true identity and substance. Matter can’t ever do that. “Life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment,” said Jesus (Luke 12:23).

So, let’s tweak our question a bit: “How’s Life treating you?” That’s an altogether different perspective to what brings happiness. As the precise expression of divine Life, the status of God, not the status of physicality, is your true status and basis for joy. You have a real reason to be happy—and to stay that way. You’re not happy because you’re willing yourself to be so; you’re happy because God literally is your Life! “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8). It is God who provides you with your spirit, happiness, and inspiration. These are Life’s qualities and you embody them perpetually.

Happiness born of Life, Truth, and Love cannot be eroded, stolen, diluted, or corrupted. Spiritual happiness is as pure and permanent as God is. “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph,” says the Bible (Psalms 47:1). To adopt that perspective as your attitude and outlook isn’t a blind joy; it’s a delight based on the reality of present, spiritual goodness.

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