Happiness (Video Script)
Most often, happiness is regarded as a state of mind or emotion. Some experience happiness as pleasure – a sensation. Others may find happiness in meaningful activity – work or service.
Happiness may result from engagement with others in the home, at work, at play, or in romance. Human relationships tend to have the highest correlation with happiness. We are happy when we are around people that we can relate to in a positive way.
Philosophers and theologians often define happiness in terms of living a virtuous life, rather than as simply a fleeting mental or emotional state. Research has shown that happiness is contagious. It can spread like a virus through close relationships with friends, siblings, spouses, and next-door neighbors. Unhappiness also spreads through social networks, but less so than happiness.
There is an extensive body of research suggesting that religious people tend to be happier and less stressed than nonreligious people. It is not clear whether this happiness is due directly to religious activities and experiences, or is an indirect effect of social interaction associated with religious practice.
Within religious groups, Gallup surveys indicate that people with a high level of spiritual commitment are twice as likely to report being "very happy" than the least religiously committed people in those groups.
Kingdom of Heaven – Kingdom of God
One of the major themes in searching for God is the distinction between inner and outer experience of the divine. The Cayce readings discuss this duality in terms of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.
The kingdom of heaven can be regarded as an inner experience on the spiritual path. Most commonly this involves prayer, meditation, self-reflection, and contemplation – in other words, meeting God within the inner temple of the psyche. The happiness that comes from intense inner focus on spirituality is deeply personal and difficult to describe to others.
On the other hand, the kingdom of God is an outer experience in the world among others – a social context of relationship to people and the planet. For the more expansive-minded, this may even include the entire universe in terms of nature and the mind of God reflected in the cosmos. Thus you can be happy in the study of the mind of God in nature: Astronomy, physics, biology, and so forth.
Happiness from the perspective of the kingdom of God may also involve a concern for social justice and living a moral life. Thus we have experience of the God within and the God without – an apparent duality contained by the oneness of the Divine.
One of the synonyms for happiness is blessedness. We are reminded of the beatitudes of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
- Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In the beatitudes, we find the paradoxical quality of deep spirituality – the steep divide between earthly knowledge and spiritual wisdom. The happiness of being blessed can weave together pain and suffering; struggles and disappointment, with the more overtly positive experiences of life.
The fabric of life takes on a richness of meaning and purpose that transcends materiality and the fleeting pleasures of the senses or emotions. Blessedness is the deep happiness of the soul in companionship with its Source in the midst of life.