Saturday, June 23, 2007

Secret to Happiness

If there is anything that travels faster than good news, it's bad news.

Bad news can get around the globe...Fast. I just told my mom and little sister that one of my little brother's best friends up in Canada committed suicide 2 days ago. I know no one wanted to tell them while they were on their trip...but they asked because they heard things--they heard things from New Zealand. So I told them. It is impossible to hide big news in this digital age. I mean, I just found out last night and Mom and Josie already heard about it by noon today.

Anyway, I've been thinking about happiness a lot lately. Earlier this week during Sunday School it dawned on me what the secret to happiness is. I should have recognized it sooner because it has been staring me in my face my whole life.

Here it is, in case you were wondering: Live your life the way you know you should.

So often in this world we are told, "If it feels good, do it." But that's a lie. Satan is awesome at counterfeiting happiness and you think you're feeling happy but all it is is a fleeting thrill...and then it is replaced with guilt and misery.

Andrew and I made the saying a little more conditional and it is one that we try to live by: If it feels good, and you don't lose the spirit, do it.

In case you were wondering, we had a lesson on Sunday about the 10 Virgins and how the oil in our lamp is something impossible to share. You can't share personal scripture study, personal prayer, or obedience in keeping all other commandments. Wouldn't life be easier if it wasn't so personal?

Happy with my epiphany, I wanted anything to let people in my life who were hurting to know that they could be happy, despite the hurt. It was an "O, that I were an angel" time for me. But it is hard to share these things when people won't listen. And it isn't exactly my charge, anyway.

Well, on June 18th, I read this:

"In order to have joy, you need to understand that, as a child of your Heavenly Father, you inherited divine traits and spiritual needs--and just like a fish needs water, you need the gospel and the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be truly, deeply happy. Because you are the offspring of God (see Acts 17:28), it is incompatible with your eternal nature to do wrong and feel right. It cannot be done. It is part of your spiritual DNA, as it were, that peace, joy, and happiness will be yours only to the degree you live the gospel."

--Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 49

Elder Nash has become somewhat of a hero of mine recently. Not only did he speak out directly to me at Stake Conference, but here comes this little gem of an email right when I needed to read it, right when I was thinking about it and ready to hear it.

I really believe that that is the only way to be happy. And I mean really happy. Not the fleeting, counterfeit of happiness that is so often mistaken to be happiness, but the real deep down inside, "I'm happy no matter what" happy.

That doesn't mean that you can't feel other emotions. For example, I'm pretty miserable right now, all things considered, but that doesn't mean that I am not happy and at peace at the same time.

In addition to "If it feels good, do it," I have heard it said that doing whatever you want makes you happy. Now, I believe that to be true--100% true. Problems, however, arise when we trick ourselves (with the help of Satan) into thinking that we want to do things that perhaps we shouldn't do...but because we now "want" to do them, that they should make us happy.

Unfortunately, wrong doings don't make us happy. Ever (see Alma 41:10). Even if we try to convince ourselves that we want to do it, so it will make us happy, it won't make us happy for this simple reason that it is contrary to our heavenly nature to desire to do wrong.

The natural man might desire to do wrong, but we're supposed to put that stuff off. Why? Because it won't make us happy.

The things that we really want to do are the things we are taught in Sunday School and Primary and at the temple and in our homes--the things that make our spirit sing. Those are the things we really want to do, as unattractive and boring as the world may make them seem sometimes, they really are the most wonderful and sure way to gain happiness.

I do apologize for the bit of a soap box I was on. I suppose I'm doing a little emotion-sorting myself right now.

But I really do believe that living the gospel will make you happy--depending on the Savior, and our Heavenly Father makes you happy.

No matter what I mess up in my life, and no matter how many times I make the same mistake, and no matter what pain I am feeling, the Savior's love is constant. And that I find that very comforting.

So although I am rather sad right now...I know that things will be okay, that my sadness is for "a small moment" because, in the end, my goal is happiness and I hope to find it.

Perhaps with some mercy, I will.

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