“The light of the soul is released through the teeth of a bright and happy smile.” I penned these words after passing a Polynesian student on the campus of Brigham Young University – Hawaii Campus. I noted that someone who may look ferocious otherwise, usually looks radiant when they smile. That is what got me thinking about our reasons to smile.
In this week’s post I have included two long passages from General Conference talks and a scripture from the Book of Mormon. As you read these quotes think about the following questions.
- What reasons do I personally have for being happy? True, I have troubles in this life, but what do I have in this life that brings me joy, satisfaction, contentment, and gratitude?
- Can I list any reasons for demonstrating the joy I have found in life? Is it important that my happiness be demonstrated? Why or why not?
- What is the effect around me when I demonstrate compassion, joy, kindness, or tenderness? What changes might I see in my life if I didn’t show these things? What might happen if I showed more of them?
Here is the first passage. Sister Coleen K. Menlove was the Primary General President and spoke in April Conference of 2000. Her talk was entitled, “Living Happily Ever After.” As she talks about what creates our own personal “happily ever after” consider the questions above.
In the Book of Mormon, Lehi explained to his son Jacob that happiness is a result of obedience. He told Jacob that eternal laws have both punishments and opportunities for happiness attached to them. When we disobey God’s laws, we suffer the punishments, but when we obey, we reap the happiness (see 2 Ne. 2:10). Part of what creates happiness is the absence of regret, guilt, and sin.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “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 , 255–56). …
Elder Boyd K. Packer explained: “It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal. Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose in our struggle in life” (“That All May Be Edified” , 94).
The story of our search for happiness is written in such a way that if we continue to trust in God and follow His commandments through the challenging times, even those times will bring us closer to the happiness we are seeking. The Savior said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The Savior, Jesus Christ, showed us the way to happiness and told us everything we need to do to be happy. As we study the teachings of the Savior and thereby understand the purpose of our existence, we feel and express our happiness.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said that we should worship Him “with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance” (D&C 59:15). …
Our prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, is the very essence of a glad heart. He has written: “I am an optimist! … My plea is that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life, we ‘accentuate the positive’” (Standing for Something , 101).
Children are usually good examples of attitudes of “a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” They have a sense of happiness and optimism that invites others to rejoice with them. …
One child observed, “Happiness looks like a smile that you can see in people’s eyes so that you know they really are happy.” This child knows happiness is as simple as a smile. …
Elder Richard G. Scott said: “Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy” (“Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 24).
Through the Savior we can find our way back to God. We can find peace and happiness in this life and eternal joy in the world to come. That thought, in and of itself, warms my heart and makes me smile.
As we come to understand the great plan of happiness, we will radiate, for all the world to see, a glad heart and a cheerful countenance. We will show that we know the gospel of Jesus Christ is a simple, ever-present source of true happiness today and ever after in eternity.
I encourage you to go back and reread the passage from Sister Menlove’s talk. Look at how many times and in how many ways it was expressed that happiness is something that is shown, not just felt. She says in the last couple of paragraphs, for example, that as she has found peace and happiness it warmed her heart and made her smile. She also says that as we come to understand the great plan of happiness we will radiate our glad heart with a cheerful countenance. Think smile.
Now let’s look at a talk from Elder Carl B. Pratt of the First Quorum of the Seventy given in October Conference of 1997. His talk is entitled “Care for New Converts.” He is talking about experiences his family has had with visiting various wards over the years. Some wards are warm and inviting, while others made them feel like strangers to Christ’s gospel. They were serving the Church in Latin America and had many wonderful experiences together.
We have learned new and deeper meanings for words like love, joy, service, and sacrifice. For example, we have watched families save for years and then travel for up to 72 hours on a cramped bus, with small children, over poor roads, just to be able to enjoy the blessings of the sacred ordinances of the temple. We have watched humble, devoted priesthood and auxiliary leaders strive to build the kingdom and to bless the lives of the Saints, but without having the advantages of telephones or personal vehicles.
We have also learned that no one culture, people, or country has a corner on love, warmth, or kindness. As we would periodically return to the United States to visit family and friends, it would be our privilege to attend various wards in several different states. It wasn’t until our children became adolescents that we began to notice differences in the spirits of the various wards. Some wards our children loved to visit because they quickly found friends among the youth, and we all received a warm and hearty welcome. But there were other wards to which our children returned with less enthusiasm, and there was a noticeable absence of the warm and hearty welcome.
We then began to observe that in some wards we visited in the United States as well as in Latin America, if we had been investigators or new members, we would not have felt very welcome. The Apostle Paul taught the Ephesians, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). And yet, on occasion we felt like “strangers and foreigners” in the very Church of Jesus Christ to which we belonged.
These experiences helped us become aware of the discomfort that newcomers might occasionally feel in coming to our chapels, and these made us conscious of the need we all have to improve what we call our fellow-shipping skills. We have occasionally observed wards in Latin America, Spain, and in the United States where humble new converts to the Church have not been received with open arms or warm Brazos, and so we have all seen a need to improve our retention of new converts.
Brothers and sisters, we have the richest blessings that God can give to His children. We have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ought to be the most open, friendly, happy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, loving people in the whole world. …
In building the kingdom of God, every positive act, every friendly greeting, every warm smile, every thoughtful, kind note contributes to the strength of the whole. It is my prayer that we may be open and outgoing, friendly, and helpful to all who come among us. …
Let us conscientiously look for occasions to show that love which the Savior admonished us to have when He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another” (John 13:34).
I ask you to answer the question made from his statement: Why does “every positive act, every friendly greeting, every warm smile, every thoughtful, kind note” contribute to the strength of the whole ward and Church? If I am being nice to just this one person then how does that affect all those around us?
Hint: The Lord’s blessings, in fact, all acts of righteousness, are incapable of being limited to just one person. Even those things done in secret affect the lives of everyone around the one doing the service and the one receiving the service. It is the nature of goodness to be like a ripple in a pond. Ripples cannot be contained, but move ever outward.
Finally, I would like to take a quick look at 3 Nephi 17:7 – 10. The Savior is speaking to the Nephites during His visit after his resurrection.
7. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
8. For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
9. And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
10. And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.
Are you familiar with the term “happy tears?” Can you even imagine having to paint a picture of these people as they turn away from the Savior after bathing his feet with their tears, and not having some sort of smile or look of supreme joy on their faces?
We have much for which we should be grateful. We have much in our lives full of covenants and good works, blessings and grace, that should fill our hearts with joy. Why not smile? Why shouldn’t our faces, our countenances radiate the love of God to everyone we meet? Why would we want to conceal such beauty and joy with a grumpy face?
As the prophets have said, we all have storms in our lives, difficulties and trials. But we also have the promise of life eternal, of loving families, revelation and spiritual manifestations. We have all been promised mansions and blessings beyond our wildest imaginings for our short time of obedience here on earth. Christ has already overcome our only obstacles that prevented our return home. Let’s share the joy and look for those reasons that surround us each day to release the light of our souls through our bright and happy smiles.
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.