I have found that there are several themes that always seem to stand out to me as I study the scriptures. Happiness ranks as one of the top themes. I’m sure that is the same for pretty much anyone. That’s what life is all about – right? Finding happiness. In a gospel context – this life on earth is part of a plan – The Plan of Salvation; also referred to as the plan of happiness. I think that it is a part of being a human to search for happiness in our lives.
I’ve blogged about this before, so I don’t want to seem annoying or redundant, but I feel like I’ve learned a few good things about happiness and being happy.
It is important for us to define happiness correctly. I am tempted to think that happiness = fun, but that is not the case. Happiness is not in the eye of the beholder. It can be tempting to think this because we are offered so many ideas of what might make us “happy.” But we learn in the gospel and scriptures that happiness is a real, not quite relative, thing. Happiness is contentedness, joy, delight, satisfaction. It is lasting. It is deep. It isn’t as simple as a pleasure that lasts a minute. Pleasure may be a part of happiness, but it isn’t everything. Or in other words, there may be some things that make us feel happy that are pleasurable. That doesn’t mean that pleasure=happiness.
We learn in the scriptures that “wickedness never was happiness.” Alma teaches his son, also, that the nature of God is happiness. (See Alma 41:10-11.) If we want to experience happiness, then we need to adopt a nature that is like God’s nature, as His is the nature of happiness. When we do anything to cut ourselves off from God, we cut ourselves off from happiness.
Understanding the true definition of happiness is key. We can’t expect to get happiness if we don’t know what we’re searching for.
But I don’t want this post to be about the definition of happiness. I feel like I understand what happiness is, yet I find that it is elusive. Of course it is. Just as God wants us to be happy, and has provided a plan for us to obtain happiness, the adversary wants us to be miserable. Because of this, there are times when we don’t feel happy. We are fallen creatures. We are distanced from God. Even when we’re trying our best to be faithful, it can be hard to feel happiness.
So…here are five ways that we can infuse our lives with happiness – especially during those times when we lose our “mojo”.
i) Find Joy in Compensatory Blessings
Even while we are struggling through trials, we are blessed along the way. Often these blessings help to compensate for the difficulties of our adversity. The Lord blesses us along the way – even when “the way” is difficult. We can find joy during these times by counting our blessings.
As I think about it, many of these compensatory blessings cannot come without the trial! When I was a single mother, I experienced many blessings – independence, running a marathon, traveling to Europe, finding and doing well at a job. None of these blessings would have come if I hadn’t gone through the trials of my ending marriage! While I was struggling, I saw that the Lord was blessing me. When I recognized these blessings, it was easier to be happy – even in trial.
ii) Seek Experiences that Will Rejuvenate Our Souls
There are so many ways to “fill our tanks.” When we do things that rejuvenate our souls, we find happy moments. The ways I rejuvenate my soul are: exercising, date night, hikes, day trips, scripture study. I try to kiss my children, make a rich and scrumptious meal (and eat it happily).
Many of these things: exercising, spending time with children, scripture study, or cooking can feel like chores sometimes. When we seek these rejuvenating experiences, we should let them rejuvenate us – rather than doing them because we think that we need to check things off a list.
iii) Be Creative
We are creative beings. God created us with His image, and He is creative. We have a divine drive to create. There are many ways to do this. Elder Richard G. Scott told of a group of women who took up painting. He then said:
“They not only leave legacies of art, but they will never see a sunset, a face, or a tree the same again…Being creative will help you enjoy life. It engenders a spirit of gratitude. It develops latent talent, sharpens your capacity to reason, to act, and to find purpose in life. It dispels loneliness and heartache. It gives a renewal, a spark of enthusiasm, and zest for life.” – Richard G. Scott
I love this! Being creative is a way to be more grateful, and gratitude always seems to yield increased happiness. Not only that, but there is something about creating that brings joy – there is happiness in accomplishment. I love creating, yet I find myself consistently underestimating the power of creativity.
iv) Serve Others
This is a such a quick, effective way to feel a surge of happiness and purpose in life. When I have served, I have felt good. Why? I think that it is because when we serve, we become conduits of God’s love for His children. We can’t help but feel happy as a side effect! We feel the Love that God has for those we serve, and we’re drenched with this love in the meantime.
I need to remember that charity begins in the home, and that the service I render to my family members is real. It is a good, worthy thing to do! It will bring happiness to those whom I serve, and I will also feel happy.
v) Remember Your True Identity
I felt this advice very distinctly recently. I realized that I needed to remember who I am. Sometimes, I get caught up in my “life” – being a stay-at-home-mother, and I forget who I am, at the core of me. I need to be true to the daughter of God I truly am – and not let my circumstances tarnish my good traits.
When I think of who I truly am, I do feel happy. I want my children to see this side of me. I want everyone to see this side of me. I don’t want it to remain a hidden secret. Of course, there is a need to be responsible. I’m not saying that we should abandon duties and covenants to be “true to ourselves”. Duty and covenants are a part of who we are. But I also think that we become dull when we are trying to live up to everyone’s expectations rather than becoming better versions of who we already are.
So…these are the things I’m thinking about as far as happiness is concerned. What do you do to “be happy”?