It’s all very well and good for us to decide to be happy, but how in the world do we make it happen? How do you go from a life that is full of challenges and upset to a life that is full of optimism and happiness?
It’s not only my job to think of how it might be done, it’s also my life’s mission—just like I’m sure it’s yours. All of us are striving to be happy, all of the time. It’s just that we are all at various stages of finding (or losing) it.
I love the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. Whenever life gets hard for me, I turn to its pages and no matter how many times I’ve read it, I still learn something new. So, I went to the Book of Mormon to determine what it might have to say on the topic of happiness.
There were a lot of challenges in Book of Mormon times, but there was a lot of happiness too. Just after Nephi went his own way, apart from his brothers Laman and Lemuel, he established a society based on gospel truths. Nephi says of his group of believers, “And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Ne 5:27.)
But how? How did they live after the manner of happiness?
When Nephi left his brothers, he did not strike out alone. He said, “I … did take my family … and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters” (2 Ne 5:6.)
When I married my husband, we had the opportunity to move five thousand miles away from where we lived at the time to go to a school he really wanted to attend. At the time it seemed like a small matter to just throw our things into the back of our car and drive off into the sunset. Except, now we have spent the last seventeen years of our marriage trying to get back to my family.
What I didn’t value then, I long for now with all my heart. There is never money enough to go visit, the distance is too great for a visit of any length anyway and with little children the task becomes not only even more daunting but even more important.
What I once valued for naught, I now value more than anything. I would happier, I’m sure, if I lived near my family—I lived as if they mattered. Marlin K. Jensen, in an address given to Brigham Young University students, said:
“There was good reason that Nephi took his more righteous siblings with him into the wilderness. He belonged to them and they belonged to him. There is no other organization that can so completely satisfy our need for belonging and provide the resulting happiness that a family can” (“How to Be Happy,” New Era, Aug 1999, 4.)
If your family is anything like mine, sometimes they drive you crazy and you wish maybe they would appreciate you more, do things differently or … a myriad of other things. But in the end, it’s your family that you cling to in times of difficulty. It’s your family that can pull you out of the quagmire of loneliness and sadness.
Your family belongs to you as you do to them. No one will or could ever love you like they do. Hold them close, listen to them and learn from them. Therein lies an important key to happiness.