“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Dec. 1999, 17
The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote an essay on happiness in which he said, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence” (Teachings, 1976, 255). So not only is it possible to be happy; it’s important to be happy. It’s the whole reason we’re here.
In the scriptures we read of God’s plan of happiness for us (see Alma 42:8). It was specifically designed to help us achieve happiness. Lehi taught, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25). Thus we have some responsibilities in gaining happiness. Joseph Smith described those responsibilities as living a life of “virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings, 255–56).
If you find that you’re having difficulty feeling happy, first think about how you define the word happiness. If you think that being happy means a life filled with fun times, few problems, and no disappointments, you’re bound to feel unhappy most of the time. However, if you realize that being happy means concentrating on the blessings in your life, appreciating the things that are truly important, and focusing on following the Savior, you’re on the road to finding the kind of happiness that is meaningful and lasting.
Next, give yourself an interview. We all know that one of the best ways to stay happy is to live the gospel and keep the commandments (see Alma 41:10). So take some time to honestly assess whether you’re doing your best to do what you know is right. Reflect on the things you’re doing well, and make a list of things you’d like to improve.
Always remember that if you need help with a serious problem or sin, your bishop is a loving friend who can help you if necessary.
Once you determine that your life is in order and your outlook is healthy, there will still be times in your life when you feel you’re doing your best to follow the commandments and live a good life and you are still unhappy. Your unhappiness may be caused by things that are out of your control. Perhaps a loved one is having a difficult time, or a friend betrays you. Maybe your health is poor, or there isn’t enough money to meet your family’s needs. Since you can’t change the circumstances that cause these feelings, this kind of unhappiness is best remedied by changing your outlook. Here are a few ideas:
Keep a sense of humor. Laughter can make difficult circumstances bearable.
Serve others. Service takes your mind off of what’s bothering you. And it’s often a good reminder that no matter how bad things are for you, someone else may be worse off and still be able to have a positive outlook.
Remember gospel basics. Don’t neglect your daily prayers and scripture study. When you attend your meetings, participate in the lessons and thoughtfully listen to and pray for the speakers in sacrament meeting.
Look for things to be grateful for. When you say your prayers, spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re truly thankful for. Spending time focused on blessings in your life will often help you put things that aren’t so good into the proper perspective.
Remember that no matter what happens, you can decide whether or not you’ll be a happy person. Our Father in Heaven loves you and by following His commandments, you’ll be in a better position to hear the promptings of the Spirit, make good decisions, and help others come unto Christ. And, ultimately, that’s what being happy is all about.
I believe that if you keep the commandments and do what is right, Heavenly Father will bless and help you gain true happiness. Everybody has problems, but Heavenly Father will help you overcome them and become stronger.
Emma Ellis, 17
New Castle, Wales
Becoming happy takes time, courage, and faith. Work on living the gospel, one principle at a time. I believe we’re here to progress and continue to better ourselves and receive joy in doing so. Have faith and endure to the end.
Jordan Sorensen, 14
In this life we can be truly happy by obeying the commandments of God. As a missionary sharing God’s plan for happiness, I have received a witness that we can be truly happy by living the gospel.
Sister Dorcas Thompson, 24
Ghana Accra Mission
I think it is possible to find true happiness because that is what we are promised in the scriptures. The scriptures tell us that if we want to be happy we should repent, have faith, listen to the Holy Ghost, be of service to other people, trust the Lord, live righteously, keep the commandments, and endure to the end.
Nathan Rigby, 13
Happiness is a great gift from the Lord. We must work hard to be happy by caring for others and showing them love, kindness, and compassion. Only by serving others can we be truly happy.
Dallas A. Harthen, 17
I have learned that one of the best ways to be happy is if we can honestly tell ourselves that we are living as our Heavenly Father wants us to.
Melissa A. Schultz, 16
Berlin Heights, Ohio
I think if you keep an eternal perspective in this life, being truly happy is very possible. There will be ups and downs, but reading the scriptures, praying regularly, and attending seminary and Church meetings will help.
Tricia Abercrombie, 18
St. Johns, Michigan