Music is a complicated thing. There are masterpieces that take our breath away, songs that annoyingly get stuck in our heads, love songs that make us cry, and life-moment songs that make us cry harder. In music, just like in life, there are moments that ebb and flow, dissonant chords that eventually resolve, strong rubato sections that change from fast and furious to slow and steady. It is constantly changing, as are we.
I’ve discovered that life rarely remains the same. There are those precious moments when we wake up, look around at our life, and are thankful for sameness. Oftentimes, however, these moments don’t last too long—but when they change, our happiness doesn’t have to change with it.
Happiness is a choice. It is a verb, an action word that takes work on our part from time to time. Can we take responsibility for our ability to act towards finding happiness? Can we look past the mundane and the difficult and see the tender mercies of God all around us? Sometimes we have to figuratively change the channel in our brain in those moments when we are convinced that there is no happiness anywhere.
In a talk by President Monson called “Finding Joy in the Journey,” he discusses the familiar adage of change:
“I begin by mentioning one of the most inevitable aspects of our lives here upon the earth, and that is change. At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: ‘Nothing is as constant as change.’
This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.”
Finding joy and holding on to it is not always easy, especially when life is constantly changing, I would like to recommend four ways in which I have learned to shift into joy.
I know this is the primary answer that we hear all the time, but I have discovered that the days I start with prayer always go better than the ones that do not. I find that Father in Heaven is always willing to shoulder our burdens with us, but only if we ask Him.
2. Find Your “Thing”
I believe that everyone has a “thing” that they find joy in, whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, eating a bowl of ice cream, watching a good movie, or listening to music. For me, it is playing music. Music wakes up my soul and gives me strength when I need it. I am constantly looking for more “things” to find joy in so that when I am feeling especially down, I can force myself to do them…And yes, sometimes we must force ourselves into happiness.
Forgetting ourselves is always the best solution for regaining or retaining happiness. When we are constantly focused on our own needs, our own struggles, and our own worries, we lose contentment—but when we focus outwards on others, we find it again. It is through service that we become most like the Savior, who did nothing but serve.
4. Find Gratitude
Expressing gratitude for our blessings allows us to focus on the positive things in our lives rather than obsessing about the negative. Gratitude is the antonym to despair. When we have gratitude, we dispel despair and find the ability to replace fear and doubt with optimism and faith.
Continuing on with President Monson’s words:
“Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows. . . My sincere prayer is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is most important, that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey.”
Creating the beautiful music of joy in our lives takes work and honest effort at becoming our best selves. If we surrender our will to God, He will open the windows of heaven and we will experience the beautiful melody of happiness pouring into our homes and hearts, no matter what our current circumstances may be.
Janette Beverley is a lover of life, family, music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, and has five amazing children and one equally amazing husband. Janette is excited to be writing for LDS Blogs and sharing her love and passion for finding the miraculous among the mundane, the awe-inspiring among the obvious, and the uplifting among the underestimated. To read more of her work, you can visit Janette's personal blog here.