What is true happiness?
I’ve been thinking a bit today about what happiness truly is and how we can achieve it. I have been reflecting on how much joy and happiness I felt on my mission despite challenges setbacks and trials!
One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is the often quoted refrain: “Men are that they might have joy,” but what exactly do we mean we speak of joy. Why is it that we often found the most joy when things are most difficult?
I found a really great talk from back in 2005 that dealt with this topic beautifully. It is entitlted True Happiness: A Conscious Decision. Elder De Hoyos of the 70 argues that “wanting to” or desiring and striving towards joy is one of the key elements that help us achieve true joy. Furthermore, “Happiness comes as a result of our obedience and our courage in always doing the will of God, even in the most difficult circumstances.”
Therefore, when we are struggling and trying to do what we know is right despite the challenges that come our way, we are filled with the spirit and experience a sense of exhilaration and joy that is incomparable. That is why as a missionary, I experienced such highs of joy and such unparalleled moments of bliss.
Also, Elder De Hoyos declares that “Happiness is a condition of the soul. This joyous state comes as a result of righteous living… Yes, my beloved brothers and sisters, life is good if we live in such a way to make it so. Believing, desiring, deciding, and choosing correctly are the simple actions that define an increase in happiness and an increase in the inner assurance that transcends this life.”
Happiness is not something fleeting that comes in fits of bursts, but something that we can always enjoy as a constant companion. Indeed, happiness is something that we must rechoose each day. We have to desire joy and work hard to achieve it.
I’ve been thinking about this in the context of relationships and dating. Not long ago, I started dating Jessica and that has been a source of great joy and happiness for me. I think a big part of that joy is the decision to date fully in keeping with the standards and commandments of God. That is such a refreshing choice that allows the spirit to be present. Yet, each day is another opportunity and challenge to choose: choose to work hard and choose to show love to each other. It’s a chance to get to know each other better and to develop a relationship that could become eternal. I have a really strong testimony that if we continue to follow the spirit we will be led and guided onward. Each day, I have to do my part to pray and to study and seek out the Lord’s will. Each day, I have to face the challenges that come my way with courage and great obedience to the will of the Lord. Those same attributes that served me well on a mission are needed in courtship and throughout the rest of life!
Elder De Hoyos has a great quote by the Prophet Joseph Smith that I really loved
“The Prophet Joseph stated, “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.”
Think about it! The object and purpose of our existence is happiness! Why then do we spend so much of our time not truly happy? The path ( and I might add the only path) comes from those attributes that the prophet mentioned: Virtue, Uprightness, Faithfullness, Holiness and Obedience. If we walk this road, we will draw closer to God and to those we care about. We will discover more happiness than we could have anticipated!