14 January 2015

Just Be Happy

Before I said goodbye to my everyday life and become a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a friend of mine gave me some advice. "Just be happy." Three simple words that I have pondered time and time again on my mission. The advice seemed simple; of course I would be happy, I was about to go off and do the most fulfilling work one could do with their life. As my mission went on I came to find out that being happy is more than just doing things that we think will make us happy, it's a state of being.

Everyday we are bombarded with different people telling us different things that will bring us the most happiness in our lives. Television ads, newspapers, celebrities, friends, blogs. I don't know about you, but it has definitely affected me. In the back of my mind I knew where I could find happiness, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, but for some reason it just wasn't clicking. I kept trying to chase after what I thought would bring me happiness. The gospel made me happy, but I wasn't letting it fill me with joy. Instead, I tried looking in all of the wrong places for it. And through looking in all of those wrong places I dug a ditch of despair for myself. I wasn't happy. I was tired, stressed, burnt out, and just done. Nothing I did was bringing me the lasting happiness I was so desperately searching for. That's when I was brought low. That's when I reevaluated what I was doing and why it wasn't working. Here's what I learned.

Think of something that brings you joy without fail. For me, it's reading books. Give me a good book and I can be content for hours. The problem arises when I finish my book and have nothing left to read. I call this a book hangover. Suddenly I went from loving life with my book to no longer having the joy of reading. All in an instant. Now I have to start searching for another book to read to bring that joy back. My happiness is dependent on a thing. For the longest time this is how I viewed happiness. My thoughts went along the lines of "I'll be happy when I read a book" or "I'll be happy when I have some chocolate" or "I'll be happy when I am less awkward." So I waited and waited and tried and tried to gain happiness through these things. After all, it's what I've been told brings happiness. But you know what, I've realized something. Happiness isn't found in things we have or things we do. Happiness doesn't come from situations we're in or places we are. True, lasting happiness is a mindset. Like I said before, it's a state of being.

You are what your thoughts are. My Mission President told a story about his son (we'll call him Sam). Sam was a happy little boy, until one day his teacher at school started giving him a hard time. This teacher did not like him and over time Sam lost his glow. No longer was he the happy child he once was. His parents decided to try a little experiment to help their son. They began referring to Sam as their "happy child." They would introduce him to people this was and always brought it up in conversation. Over and over Sam heard how he was the "happy child" and overtime he was able to get his glow back. All because of his thoughts. Daily, he thought of himself as the happy child, and so he became the happy child.

Do you realize how powerful your thoughts are? I didn't, until recently. When we have positive thoughts about ourselves we become those positive attributes. When we have negative thoughts about ourselves we become those negative attributes. It's as simple as that. We can experience this lasting happiness and joy because we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son so that we can overcome the sorrows and shortcomings of this world. We can overcome all of our weaknesses and negative thoughts. My favorite scripture reads:
"If they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27
So, how do we find happiness in this world? Well, it's as simple as "just be happy." Think positive thoughts. See the good in the world. Be the good in the world. Rely on Christ. Through Him all things are possible. Through Him we can find true, lasting joy.

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