I used to frequently ask myself, Am I Happy? When will I be? I thought that if I were fully living the gospel, I ought to be acting–and feeling–blissful all the time. I was disappointed in myself; I couldn’t count myself to be a “happy” person, since I often experience a wide range of emotions within a single day.
However, I no longer believe this to be true. President James E. Faust said “Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
I don’t think my life is any easier or harder than the next person. Like everyone, the past several years for me have been full of emotional highs and lows and a lot of in-betweens: serving a mission, graduating from college, meeting my husband and getting married, experiencing newlywed bliss, moving to a new state and starting a new life, missing my husband while he works long hours, changing careers a couple times, losing our first child, getting treated for depression, having a second and raising her while transitioning to be a stay-at-home mom. It has been a real ride! Through this, I’ve noticed that my happiness is usually closely correlated to my circumstances. I don’t think this is abnormal; however, I think there is a better way to live.
God’s Plan of Happiness
While we may not experience happiness every moment of every day, God does desire for us to find happiness, and we can find the happiness we seek.*
President Gordon B. Hinckley said “Life is like that—ups and downs, a bump on the head, and a crack on the shins. It was ever thus…There is something of a tendency among us to think that everything must be lovely and rosy and beautiful without realizing that even adversity has some sweet uses.”
Adversity is Part of the Plan
So adversity has a place in God’s Plan of Happiness, after all. Maybe it is even because of adversity that we experience happiness in life. If nothing else, it teaches us to be able to find the beautiful and the good amongst the challenging and difficult.
President Hinckley has an awesome lesson about cultivating an attitude of happiness in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual. He says:
In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.
Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .
Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.
We are all on our own rides through life. We may be on the highest of highs and never want to come down, or we might feel like it is barely bearable. We might feel that life is just mundane. We might be somewhere in between.
Being Grateful for the Ride, However Imperfect
I am focusing on choosing happiness now–without being obsessed with making every moment perfectly blissful. Hoping for 24/7 happiness is frankly not realistic for me.
I am hoping to incorporate more moments of laughter and enjoyment into my daily routine. My wish is that regardless of my circumstances (whether they be bad traffic, burnt dinner, a less-than-perfect effort at living the gospel, or a screaming, teething baby) I can be better at living in happiness. I hope that I can learn to enjoy life with whatever it brings. I pray that I can have more laughter, gratitude, and joy along the way.That’s what God wants for me. remembering that God’s plan is for me is not only to have happiness in the eternities, but to have happiness now.
*See Elder Holland’s September New Era article–it’s a great read. Also, an oldie but a goodie: “Come What May, and Love It” by Elder Wirthlin.