“It is ‘life and the pursuit of happiness’ that ought to occupy the attention of all intellectual beings.”
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 97
What Do Happy People Know?
~by Jen H.
In the header of our family’s blog, which we entitled “Happy Shining People,” is a quote from the prophet Joseph Smith that says “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” I genuinely believe that is the source of my own happiness in life. This idea about what happy people KNOW, has been a thought I have pondered at great lengths the past few years and have decided to devote my upcoming Relief Society lesson to the topic.
In preparation for that lesson I decided to ask the question ” What do Happy People Know?” in a quest to learn more. I began by asking some dear people in my life. Most of them have encountered severe trials in their lives and many even have faced tragedy head on, but somehow they have happiness written all over their countenance and disposition. Their comments and feedback have been enlightening and truly inspired.
We all have had experiences in life that sometimes feel like darkness is invading and there are few reasons to proclaim any amount of happiness and that there may be no end in sight. Some trials are overwhelming and greatly out of our control such as health issues that make it next to impossible to ooze the kind of happiness you’d like to. Depression, divorce, addiction… many legitimate trials in life, that have the potential to strip us of hope and leave us feeling discouraged. It is hard at times to put on a happy face. I have had my fair share of those days, BUT I am convinced that a happy face does not always reflect happiness or the lack thereof.
Difficult times in my life have helped me understand how infinitely blessed we are and how rich and beautiful life is in every way. Underlining all those moments of struggle and hardship in my life, I have felt undeniable glimmers of deep happiness and joy, aiming to reflect a goodness that is not of this world. I know that source comes from a power beyond my own, the nearer I draw myself to that feeling of goodness, the more I feel of it despite the challenges I face.
Recently one dear friend recounted a partial list of the challenges she has faced in life (it was a very heavy list I assure you) but one thing she stressed was that happiness was a choice and obedience is a choice. Though her hardships have been many she stated with confidence “you will not see me wearing my experiences.” I loved that thought and realized every time I wake up on the unpleasant side of the bed, I will remember that, I have a choice to wear my experiences or not. Being a mother and wife, I do have a great responsibility to those I love and others in my life to shine as much as I can but I also have a power bestowed in me that is not all mine and it is that I am a child of God. I KNOW I have a loving Heavenly Father who loves and understands me and knows my potential and he needs more people to rise above the dust and shine.
Another wise bit of advice this friend shared with me about happiness was something her stepfather would tell her when she was a teenager and not liking all the rules “Ya got the same pants to get glad in, that you got mad in.” meaning of course the choice was hers to work on the attitude. It is all a choice.
There is a profound difference between pleasure and happiness. “Pleasure is often confused with happiness but is by no means synonymous with it… Pleasure, unlike happiness, is that which pleases us or gives us gratification. Usually it endures for only a short time.” (James E. Faust, Ensign, Oct. 2000, 2.) If you were to reflect on the most happy person/people you know… what is it that brings them happiness? What is true happiness? What do you KNOW about being happy? I do not imply secular, worldly happiness but the type of peaceful happiness that some have the gift of communicating even amidst the hardest of times. I am fascinated in that ability and gift and am finding myself anxiously engaged in learning all I can from such people and their happy examples. I know many genuinely happy people and for them I am so very grateful because of their influence in my life. I am continually inspired and uplifted to a higher place every time I encounter them.
The scriptures teach that ‘Wickedness never was happiness’ [Alma 41:10] which if reversed teaches us that righteousness and obedience would result in happiness. Abraham Lincoln said once. “’When I do good I feel good, and when I do bad I feel bad.” Truer words could not have been said. Happiness is defined in the Book of Mormon by the prophet-king Benjamin as “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.”(Mosiah 2:41)
Being happy can be a challenge for sure, but what I have learned about being happy is that first of all I can choose. Happy people are predominately motivated and determined to choose good over evil, serve others willingly and are devoted to loving their Heavenly Father. That is hard work but we are told in in the scriptures that if we do we will be blessed with a state of never ending happiness (Mosiah 2:41) what more could anyone want? “When a person begins to catch a vision of the ‘true’ work, when he begins to see something of eternity in its true perspective, the blessings begin to far outweigh the cost of leaving ‘the world’ behind. Herein lies the only true happiness.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Jun 1976, 3.) I do believe this, I have experienced this in my life and and observed this happening to many people around me throughout my life. There are some things in life I know little about but this I KNOW, the closer I am to my Heavenly Father, meaning abiding by His precepts and commandments the happier more peaceful I am. It is a irrevocable truth and I do have a choice. Every morning that I open my eyes from my short motherhood slumber, I get to choose.
Someone one once said that the “knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness” so what will I choose today? Happy or sad? To serve others or not to serve? Will I wear my experiences for the world to see or will I pour those concerns out to my Heavenly Father and allow Him to help me part the stormy clouds in life? “Life is good, if we live in such a way to make it so. . . . ‘A good life’ comes as a result of the way we do things, of the words we choose to say, and even of the kind of thoughts we choose to have. . . ‘Wanting to’ is the determining factor which leads us to lay hold upon the word of God and be happy. Perseverance in making correct decisions is what leads us to happiness.” (Benjamín de Hoyos, “True Happiness: A Conscious Decision,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 31)
This, I know is true and this is a little of what I know about happiness.
GREAT QUOTES ON HAPPINESS
” ‘What is the price of happiness?’ One might be surprised at the simplicity of the answer. The treasure house of happiness is unlocked to those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity. Like a mariner without stars, like a traveler without a compass, is the person who moves along through life without a plan. The assurance of supreme happiness, the certainty of a successful life here and of exaltation and eternal life hereafter, come to those who plan to live their lives in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ-and then consistently follow the course they have set” Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 1969, 259
“Satan also has a plan. It is a cunning, evil, subtle plan of destruction. It is his objective to take captive the children of Father in Heaven and with every possible means frustrate the great plan of happiness.” Elder Richard G. Scott
“The sacrificing spirit and the happiness that come through service to others can bring peace and joy even amid trials.”M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, May 1992, 75
“Agency used righteously allows light to dispel the darkness and enables us to live with joy and happiness in the present, look with faith to the future, even into the eternities, and not dwell on the things of the past. Our use of agency determines who we are and what we will be.” Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 2006, 4-8
“A man must rise by his own efforts and walk by faith. One of our greatest resources for success and happiness is doing the right thing now. All of us as God’s children must be taught that meaningful growth must come from within and not from without. By so doing, we will walk in His paths, lift the arms of the weary and oppressed, give encouragement to our associates, develop individual initiative in governing ourselves, carry our crosses with dignity and purpose, and help all to become fishers of men straightway.” Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May 1983, 30
“Joy is an emotion of the spirit. It comes through righteous living. It is not a casual or shallow feeling, ever. If we equate fun and pleasure with happiness, we may think pain must always be equated with unhappiness. But that is not true. Joy is not a stranger to pain. We may not feel deeply enough to know joy unless our hearts have been hollowed out by sorrow. A heart may not be big enough to know real joy until it has been stretched and pulled by trials and hard things. In 2 Nephi 2:23 [2 Ne. 2:23] we find this phrase: ‘having no joy, for they knew no misery.’ Our capacity to feel joy actually increases as we righteously endure our pain.” Barbara Workman, Ensign, July 2005, 50–54