Q&A: Questions and Answers
November 1996

“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Nov. 1996, 17

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

So many people seem to have a negative outlook on life. How can I help my friends be happy and look at things in a positive way?

New Era

Sometimes it can be depressing just hearing about all the bad things happening in the world. And some people seem to talk only about the negative things going on in their lives.

The trouble is that feeling negative and concentrating on your problems hardly ever make things better. Some people have a gift for being happy. And others just have to learn how. It’s worth the effort, because being happy is just about everyone’s goal.

The advantage of learning to see the good things around you is that it’s more fun to be around a happy, optimistic person. Notice how those who have a good attitude and look at the bright side seem to draw friends to them.

So how do we go about learning to be happy? The Lord has said that he made us that we might have joy (see 2 Ne. 2:25). If you want to help your friends, you can set a good example. When faced with minor annoyances, make sure you don’t get upset with small things. Seeing how you make the best of things, they can learn to react in less angry ways.

Get out in nature. Just seeing the beauties of the world can make you happy. Practice seeing. In other words, look carefully at the world from the smallest insects to the mountains or ocean. Then realize that our Heavenly Father cares a great deal about each of his creations, including you, but he gave you the additional gift of being aware and able to appreciate the world.

Try being around children. They know how to play and still see the joy in doing simple things. Take a few minutes to talk or play a game with them. They can remind you how to see the fun in ordinary things.

Your friends may have a problem with wishful thinking. They may be negative because there are things that they cannot or do not have in their lives. If they spend all their time wishing things were different, there may be no room for happiness in their thoughts. You may not be able to convince them that the changes they wish for actually may not make them happy. That’s something some people just have to learn by experience, but rarely does a change on the outside make much difference. The changes that make somebody happy usually take place on the inside.

If a friend is so negative or unhappy that you become worried about him or her, talk to your parents, church leaders, or school counselors. They may be able to suggest some help for your friend. You can only do so much to help someone else find happiness. Ultimately, they have to find it for themselves. Being a good friend does not mean covering up for your friends when they are doing wrong or being responsible for their poor choices.

Obedience is the best way to happiness. Just doing the things that the gospel teaches can bring us great joy. Plus we can have the comfort that following the commandments brings. Obedience just makes life easier. Elder Richard G. Scott said in a recent conference address, “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” (Ensign, May 1996, p. 24).

However, living the gospel is no guarantee that our lives will be problem free. They won’t. But the Lord will help us learn from mistakes and still find happiness. When true tragedies or the results of evil touch our lives, then our Heavenly Father has promised us his peace (see John 14:27).


Personally, I do not see how anyone cannot have a positive outlook if they have accepted Christ into their lives. Unfortunately, I have a lot of friends that have not. I have found that the proof-by-example method is the best way to show them that life is so much fun and a lot more uncomplicated when you maintain a consistent attitude that life is worthwhile.

Of course, I also find it beneficial to pray and ask the Lord to help me help those around me to see what happens when we are blessed with his presence in our lives. Without Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, I would never be able to see life in such a glorious way.

Laura K. Rowe, 20
Adair, Oklahoma

I have had many trials. I have had two kidney transplants and many more things. All I can say is that Heavenly Father will bless us and provide for our needs if we keep a positive outlook on life. If we strive to do what’s right, there will be many blessings for us.

Paul Bindrup, 18
Tucson, Arizona

There are bad parts of life, but if you only concentrate on them, then you will never be happy. Help your friends focus on the things that they enjoy in their lives instead of dwelling on things they dislike. The scripture says, “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25), not “Men are that they might be miserable.”

Lia Ross, 16
Las Vegas, New Mexico

What a difference you can make by example! Smile and let your friends feel of your joy and optimism for life. I have found much happiness in my own life trying to brighten the lives of others. Heavenly Father loves each one of us very much. It would be so sad to neglect the blessings he so willingly gives us, including his Son

Liz Barton, 15
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Be an example to your friends, but don’t forget to fast and pray for these people that they will become more optimistic.

Melanie Burr, 12
Dothan, Alabama

Let your friends know that their Father in Heaven loves them. You can also help raise their sense of self-worth by giving them honest, positive compliments.

Troy Davis, 13
Bothell, Washington

Photography by Bryant Livingston; posed by model

The Prophet Joseph Smith suffered many things at the hands of his enemies, yet while he was in Liberty Jail the Lord encouraged him to hold on to his knowledge of the truth and remain faithful. He was told that even though everything seemed to be conspiring against him that he should not give up. He was promised, as we are, that we should “fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever” (D&C 122:9). (Painting Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail by Gary E. Smith.)