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Friday, August 7, 2009

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Recipe for Happiness

I have been thinking this morning about my attitude. How can I improve it, during my trials? Why is it that I tend to think more on the things I would like to see changed in my life. . . about the problems, than I do the great blessings I have received? Why is it so hard to recognize blessings, and carry on day by day with a cheerful heart? We know that "men are that they might have joy," so why is it that we so easily lose sight of all that truly makes men happy?

Satan would have us feel that our imperfections somehow exclude us from taking part of Heavenly Father's plan: the Plan of Happiness. But a loving Father and Savior beckon to us lovingly, teaching that we should find joy in our journey. Not only are we meant to be eternally happy following righteous and dedicated lives, we should find joy in each moment here on Earth. And what about the times in our lives that seem riddled with trials and temptations? The scriptures teach that for these, too, we may be be grateful and find joy. As Job put it: ". . .happy is the man who God correcteth. . . " (Job 5:17).

We must remember who it is that desires our hopelessness: Satan, who wishes that we all might be as miserable as he is. But he is the author of lies. He is the bringer of discouragement. Though many have struggles that truly seem unbearable and mountains to climb that seem insurmountable, all can remember words of promise from the Savior: ". . . be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. . ." (John 16:33).

James E. Faust taught: "Although “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25), this does not mean that our lives will be filled only with joy, “for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11). Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than thinking in terms of a day, we perhaps need to snatch happiness in little pieces, learning to recognize the elements of happiness and then treasuring them while they last" (James E. Faust, "Our Search for Happiness," Ensign, October 2008, 2).

So, what is the recipe for true happiness? Following are two quotes, which make the answer very clear:

"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)."

“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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56).

I pray that I can earnestly seek joy in my life by living righteously and by recognizing the many blessings which surround me. I hope that I can recognize my trials and temptations as stepping stones to eternal happiness. I am grateful for the gift of perspective I find in the scriptures, and for the examples of so many who teach that even through adversity, it is possible and probable that I can find lasting joy.