HAPPINESS and JOY
Everyone seeks happiness; it is the object of our existence. It is important to realize the difference between short-term pleasure and lasting joy. Pleasure-seeking tends to be short term in nature and must be re-experienced continually because it is not happiness. We can feel good, but it is not true happiness. This does not preclude us having an enjoyable time or doing fun things with friends and associates. To be truly happy, however, we must have the love of God in our hearts (see 4 Ne. 1:15–16), which will result in a myriad of blessings in our lives. The state of happiness comes from righteousness (see Mosiah 2:41).
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
Psalms 146:5. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.
Joy can be found only in our God and our Savior Jesus Christ, for in and through Them we are sustained, blessed, and given hope of eternal life, which God promised before the world began (see Titus 1:2).
Proverbs 29:18. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
When we don’t see life with proper perspective, or the “vision” of the gospel, we dwell in confusion and uncertainty. Obedience is the only sure way to happiness and joy. Obedience leads us to righteousness, through which we can enjoy a state of never-ending happiness.
3 John 1:4. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
As mortals, we feel joy in our family as we see our family members progress on the path to eternal life. This provides a glimpse of the joy of the Lord over a soul that repents (see D&C 18:13) and over those who show an increase in faith (see 3 Ne. 17:20). Truly our joy lies in living the gospel and helping others to do so.
1 Nephi 8:10. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
The fruit of the tree Lehi speaks of is the love of God. The love of God was expressed through the gift of His Only Begotten Son, who would redeem the world and provide an opportunity for all to enjoy eternal life. We should not hold to the iron rod and stay on the straight and narrow path and partake of His goodness; therein is joy.
Mosiah 2:41. And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
Obedience to the commandments of God and enduring to the end will lead us back to the presence of God, to a state of never-ending happiness. Obedience—exact, immediate, and courageous obedience—should be our quest. We can find joy through keeping the commandments.
Alma 29:9–10. I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.
We find joy in serving the Lord by helping others repent and come unto Him. Joy can only be found in serving and helping others grow (see D&C 18:10–16).
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
Ezra Taft Benson:
If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burdens, and your own burdens will be lighter. Truly in the words of Jesus of Nazareth: “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39.) (Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990], 59–60)
Missionary work provides us the happiest years of our lives. I know whereof I speak. I have tasted the joy of missionary work. There is no work in all the world that can bring an individual greater joy and happiness. Like Ammon of old, our joy can be full because of seeing others come into the kingdom of God. (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983], 95)
David O. McKay:
It is the duty of parents and of the Church not only to teach but to demonstrate to young people that living a life of truth and moral purity brings joy and happiness, while violations of moral and social laws result only in dissatisfaction, sorrow, and, when carried to extremes, in degradation. (Steppingstones to an Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971], 93)
Joy is sweeter than pleasure. Joy is an emotion excited with the acquisition or expectation of good. Pleasure is a state of gratification of the senses or mind and may be sensuous. It may be self-indulgence. It is nearly always transitory. Joy and happiness are permanent. Joy is pleasure not to be repented of. (Steppingstones to an Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971], 219)
IDEAS FOR DAILY LIVING:
Here are four ideas to help us find happiness.
1. Happiness and joy depend on how we relate to God.
● Obedience—Happiness comes through obeying God, keeping His commandments (see Prov. 29:18), and blessing others (see Alma 36:24).
● Receiving the love of God—God’s love expressed through the gift of His Beloved Son (see John 3:16–17) is the source of our joy, and is represented by the fruit of the tree of life (see 1 Ne. 8:10). This love, when it dwells in our hearts, causes us to live righteously and to enjoy happiness (4 Ne. 1:15–16).
● Separation from God brings sorrow—We separate ourselves from God through wickedness and lose the Spirit because of our disobedience (see 2 Ne. 26:11; Morm. 1:14). We cannot enjoy true happiness in wickedness, because wickedness never was happiness (see Alma 41:10).
● Blessings—Knowing that by keeping the commandments we can dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness (see Mosiah 2:41), we are motivated and drawn forward in our desire to repent and humbly seek and pursue happiness (see Alma 27:18).
● Peace—Happiness is inner peace that endures because of righteousness. It is a gift from the Lord. It is peace that transcends mortality (see D&C 59:23).
2. Happiness and joy depend on how we deal with ourselves.
● Attitude—An attitude of faith and hope attracts us to joy and happiness, and that is the way we choose to live (see 2 Ne. 5:27). Our attitudes will affect our level of happiness more than almost anything else, because as we think, so are we (see Prov. 23:7). “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” (Abraham Lincoln).
● Principles—Happiness is knowing that we have aligned our lives with gospel principles and values that are not momentary and fleeting, but have endurance. Our “contentment level” must come from adherence to values and standards that are designed to bring us happiness. We cannot be happy doing things that hurt ourselves and others.
● Rejoicing in success—Happiness is knowing that we have overcome our trials and temptations, our weaknesses and mortal frailties.
● Being—Happiness is a state of being, not a state of ownership or worldly attainment. We should not let success and happiness depend on possessions, positions, or comparisons.
3. Happiness and joy depend on how we deal with others.
● Service—Happiness is the perception that we have enriched the lives of others in ways that bring them lasting joy and peace (see Alma 36:24).
● Togetherness—Happiness is togetherness with those we love. When we have someone to share our happiness with, we are infinitely more happy.
● Discernment—Happiness is the capacity to discern in every person, if not the creativity of a Michelangelo or the brilliance of an Einstein or the compassion of a Florence Nightingale, then at least the capacity of a child of God who is striving, growing, and reaching to become like Him.
4. Happiness and joy depend on how we deal with life.
● Meaning—Happiness is an assurance that we have gained the vision of eternal life sufficient to infuse us with purpose, meaning, and the hope of an eternal family living in the presence of God.
● Simplicity—Happiness is the ability to see in any given moment the purpose of life, goodness, and joy—all because you are alive and can choose your steps in life. Don’t look beyond the mark. Enjoy the journey of life. Find joy in the simple things of life along the way.
● Beauty—Happiness is the thrill of experiencing the beauties of life and nature in all its wondrous variety and abundance, and realizing that it is a gift from God because He loves us.
ILLUSTRATIONS FOR OUR TIME
This narrative about the personal search for happiness reveals the timeless truth—that true joy is what we do and what we are, not in what we have.
The Dream Home
As young students in graduate school, we weren’t very wealthy. In fact, we struggled. I borrowed in order to get through school. And for our dates, we would buy graph paper and draw our future dream house. This went on for nine years as we began our lives, did a stint in the military, and came back again. And after nine years of marriage and moving ten times, it looked like we were finally going to be in our dream home. My sweetheart drew the plans. All those days we’d taken that graph paper and said, “When we move into our house then we can really be happy. Then we can really be happy.”
Well, around the tenth year, we began to move into our new home. It was beautiful, located on a mountain crest looking over the valley, under the shadows of the mountain peaks. It was wonderful, on a half-acre of land. Oh, our dreams came true. As we were moving in that day, I thought back, “Wait, isn’t this the day? Yes, this is the day we start being happy. We finally get to have our own home—our very own home.” I was reflective, and I realized this physical presence of our house did not bring happiness. I had sought happiness in a possession that I thought would bring happiness.
As my wife walked downstairs while we were moving some furniture and some items, I said, “How do you feel?”
“Fine,” she said.
“Do you feel any different than yesterday?” I said.
“No, it’s just fun to move in.”
Yes, we had both missed the point. It’s not moving into a new home that brings us happiness. Happiness is a journey of living a life according to principles based on happiness, not on things that are possessed, not on positions, or titles, or stations. Happiness is in the living, not in the getting. Do not wait to be happy, do not put it off.
—Ed J. Pinegar
For many, happiness in mortality is fleeting because the perceived source of happiness is rooted in a worldly value system. As we seek joy in mortality, we will never find it without the eternal perspective of the plan of happiness uppermost in our mind. The eternal perspective gives credence to mortality as part of an eternal landscape. Life can be wonderful as we seek eternal truths and then choose to keep the Lord’s commandments. To be humble and devout players on this grand stage of life makes of us seekers of happiness rather than simply participants in the mortal experience. “Men are, that they might have joy,” stated the prophet Lehi. That joy flows from seeking the will of the Father and following in the footsteps of the Son.
(Adapted from Living by the Word by Pinegar ad Allen)
Sunday, September 14, 2008
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