To Be Happy…Be Kind and Pleasant

Happiness cannot be traveled to,  owned, earned, worn  or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every miniute with Love, Grace, and Gratitude   Denis Waitley

Kindness and Happiness go hand in hand. After all, how could we be truly content and happy by making others miserable?

I have lived long enough to observe many “before and after” stories. My observations have shown that those who are self-absorbed, mean and cranky always get a healthy dose of their own medicine. It doesn’t always come right away, but come it does.

I know of nothing that makes me happier than to see another smile and know that I, in some way, contributed to that smile.

We have been talking about obtaining happiness all week. The best way I know of to make sure that we are not happy is to mope, complain, and hold onto bitterness. The best way I know of being happy is to work for it and to try to make others happy.

When I talk about making others happy, I’m not talking about enabling unhealthy behaviors, I am talking about doing kind things. Sharing a compliment, sharing a treat, a smile, or helping another out are easy and simple ways to be kind.

As I observed heaven during my near-death experience, it was such an aha moment for me to see and witness how prevalent our kindness, love, and honor was for each other. We didn’t share false compliments – we genuinely gloried in lifting each other up and praising each other for our talents and goodness. (Our world could really take a lesson from heaven!) We didn’t care that someone else had greater knowledge or talents, we were overwhelmingly grateful for all of the talents, abilities, and knowledge that God had blessed us with and we felt the same gratitude for all that others had received from God as well.

As you read today’s excerpt from the article by Jeffrey R. Holland entitled The Gospel Path to Happiness, I hope you will think about how you can bring greater happiness into your own life. I know that the Lord wants you and me and all of His children to be happy! I know  that He loves each and every one of us and wants nothing but the best for us! We just have to consent to His efforts to help us and be willing to work alongside of Him!

Be Kind and Pleasant

Here is another. In preparing this message, I sat in my study for a long time trying to think if I had ever known a happy person who was unkind or unpleasant to be with. And guess what? I couldn’t think of one—not a single, solitary one. So learn this great truth early in life: You can never build your happiness on someone else’s unhappiness.

Sometimes, maybe especially when we are young and insecure and trying to make our way up in the world, we think if we can tear someone else down a little, it will somehow miraculously lift us up. That is what bullying is. That is what catty remarks are. That is what arrogance and superficiality and exclusiveness are. Perhaps we think if we are negative enough or cynical enough or just plain mean enough, then expectations won’t be too high; we can keep everyone down to a flaw-filled level, and therefore our flaws won’t be so glaring.

Happy people aren’t negative or cynical or mean, so don’t plan on that being part of the “manner of happiness.” If my life has taught me anything, it is that kindness and pleasantness and faith-based optimism are characteristics of happy people. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness—kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”8

A related step along the path toward happiness is to avoid animosity, contention, and anger in your life. Remember, it is Lucifer, Satan, the adversary of us all, who loves anger. He “is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Nephi 11:29).

After quoting that verse in general conference a few years ago, Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy said, “The verb stir sounds like a recipe for disaster: Put tempers on medium heat, stir in a few choice words, and bring to a boil; continue stirring until thick; cool off; let feelings chill for several days; serve cold; lots of leftovers.”9 Lots of leftovers indeed.

Anger damages or destroys almost everything it touches. As someone has said, to harbor anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It is a vicious acid that will destroy the container long before it does damage to the intended object. There is nothing in it or its cousinly vices—violence, rage, bitterness, and hate—that has anything to do with living the gospel or the pursuit of happiness. I do not think anger can exist—or at least be fostered and entertained and indulged in—in a life being lived “after the manner of happiness.”

This excerpt from the Gospel Path to Happiness by Jeffrey R. Holland was shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/09/the-gospel-path-to-happiness?lang=eng

 

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Happiness is a Choice

Happiness is a  choice. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be Happy   Ralph Marston

It seems a life time ago and yet it seems just yesterday that I was literally fighting for my life. I was severely depressed and in horrible physical pain. I was suffering from migraine headaches 24/7 and the pain and agony that accompanied those headaches were wreaking havoc with my emotional health.

I might have given up had it not been for my near-death experience. After my experience, I understood very well what the ramifications would be if I took my own life. I knew that if I chose to end my life, I would also be choosing to lose God, my family, and all that I loved and gave me happiness.

Upon my return from heaven and my near-death experience, I worked like crazy to overcome my depression. It was an uphill battle all the way – a battle that saved my life and that has brought me enduring happiness.

For me, overcoming depression and choosing happiness was a multi-faceted effort.

I had to be deliberate in the use of my time. My health no longer allowed me to work for pay but I still had to use my time wisely. I spent several hours daily reading scriptures and inspirational materials. I spent several hours a weeks seeing my chiropractor and doing all that I could to improve the structural issues that I suffered from. I spent untold hours reading about health and doing all that was in my power to try to find out the cause of my headaches. None of it was fun and I didn’t “feel” like doing any of it.

But here’s the deal – it was my life and nobody cared about my life and my pain more than I did – not even those amazing people that love and gave support their to me. Therefore, I had to be my very best ally. (We all have to be our very own best ally.)

When we make a choice to be happy – it cannot be conditional. It cannot hinge on if our boss is in a good mood. It cannot be influenced by our pocketbook or our fame. We have to choose to be happy and we have to do all of the necessary internal work.

All personal improvement, including the choice to be happy, comes from within. We choose with our thoughts and our true intents. We can present a fake facade for only so long and then our true colors start to show themselves.

Some of the most important ways we choose happiness is with our efforts to be grateful, the company we keep, the thoughts we choose to think (yes we have a choice), the entertainment we enjoy, the music we listen to, and the efforts we invest in to develop a  relationship with God.

We cannot always choose our circumstances but we can choose the attitude we will have no matter what our circumstances are.

The fight for happiness will not be won in one day or with one small change. It will be won with each day of consistent effort. Some days will be harder than others – but it will all be worth the effort.

I hope that you will choose happiness in your life. I hope that today’s excerpt from the article The Gospel Path to Happiness by Jeffrey R. Holland will further inspire you! I am praying that you will choose to make happiness a part of your life!

Choose Happiness

Second, learn as quickly as you can that so much of your happiness is in your hands, not in events or circumstances or fortune or misfortune. That is part of what the battle for agency was over in the premortal councils of heaven. We have choice, we have volition, we have agency, and we can choose, if not happiness per se, then to live after the manner of it. U.S. president Abraham Lincoln had plenty to be unhappy about in the most difficult administration a president of the United States has ever faced, but even he reflected that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”6

Happiness comes first by what comes into your head a long time before it comes into your hand. Joseph Smith was living “after the manner of happiness” in a very unhappy situation when he wrote from Liberty Jail to those on the outside who were also the victims of great injustice and persecution:

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. …

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” (D&C 121:45–46).

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” That is not only good counsel against the modern plague of pornography, but it is also good counsel for all kinds of gospel thoughts, good thoughts, constructive thoughts, hopeful thoughts. Those faith-filled thoughts will alter how you see life’s problems and how you find resolution to them. “The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34), the revelation says.

Too often we have thought it was all up to the heart; it is not. God expects a willing mind in the quest for happiness and peace as well. Put your head into this. All of this takes effort. It is a battle but a battle for happiness that is worth waging.

In a popular book a few years ago, the author wrote: “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and … [look] for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness … to stay afloat on top of it.”7

I love the phrase “participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.” Don’t be passive. Swim upward. Think and speak and act positively. That is what happy people do; that is one aspect of living after the manner of happiness.

Today’s excerpt from the article The Gospel Path to Happiness by Jeffrey R. Holland is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/09/the-gospel-path-to-happiness?lang=eng

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Happiness Comes Through Living the Teachings of Jesus Christ

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in Harmony Mahatma GandhiEver heard the expression “Heaven on Earth”? Everyone wants earth to be like heaven but few seem to think about what would take to create that environment.

I have seen heaven and it isn’t just about singing choirs of angels. Heaven is heaven because of the choices and attitudes of those who reside there. Heaven is heaven because of the reverence and honor that its inhabitants have for each other. Heaven is heaven because God is there and the energy of His love and perfection permeates everything and everyone there.

Every mortal I know wants to be happy. However, in order to be happy, there are actions that must be consistently adhered to.

True happiness is not found in the carefree attitude of eat, drink and be merry. True happiness IS to be found in love, serve and having an attitude of gratitude!

Today, I am sharing the next excerpt from the article called The Gospel Path to Happiness by Jeffrey R. Holland.

In order to overcome depression, we have to live in a way that brings us to happiness. We cannot lie, cheat, or bad mouth others and successfully overcome depression. Jesus did not teach us to be kind, to give service and to tell the truth to help him out. He taught us those things because they would bring us the greatest joy, peace and happiness.

As you read today’s excerpt, think about how you are doing in cultivating your own happiness. If there are ways that you can improve, think about how you might go about that process.

Last, but not least, remember that anytime you need to change in a positive way, prayer is there to assist you! Be sure to ask the Lord for help in your positive endeavors!

Live the Gospel

Above all else, ultimate happiness, true peace, and anything even remotely close to scriptural joy are found first, foremost, and forever in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lots of other philosophies and systems of belief have been tried. Indeed, it seems safe to say that virtually every other philosophy and system has been tried down through the centuries of history. But when the Apostle Thomas asked the Lord the question young people often ask today, “How can we know the way?”—which for many translates, “How can we know the way to be happy?”—Jesus gave the answer that rings from eternity to all eternity:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. …

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do. …

“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:5–6, 13–14).

What a promise! Live my way, live my truth, live my life—live in this manner that I am showing you and teaching you—and whatsoever you ask will be given, whatsoever you seek you will find, including happiness. Parts of the blessing may come soon, parts may come later, and parts may not come until heaven, but they will come—all of them. What encouragement that is after a mournful Monday or a tearful Tuesday or a weary Wednesday! And it is a promise the realization of which cannot come any other way than by devotion to eternal truth!

In the words of then newly ordained Elder David O. McKay (1873–1970) just short of a full century ago, unlike gratification or pleasure or some kind of thrill, true “happiness is found only along that well beaten [gospel] track, narrow as it is … [and] straight [as it is], which leads to life eternal.”5 So love God and each other, and be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s excerpt from The Gospel Path to Happiness by Jeffrey R. Holland is from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/09/the-gospel-path-to-happiness?lang=eng

 

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Finding Happiness in a Troubled World…

Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder. Henry David Thoreau

Recently, I eluded to my plan to write more and instruct more about depression and overcoming it. As I have written in my book, A Glimpse of Heaven, depression is a heinous monster. However, just because it is a monster, does not mean that it cannot be overcome.

We have, in our arsenal, many weapons that we can use against depression. We can identify those weapons and we can learn to use those weapons.

In my experience, just waiting for depression to go away is the most inadequate approach possible. Being proactive and being willing to work hard is the best solution!

I can hear some of you say, “But I don’t feel like doing anything, I don’t even want to drag myself out of bed.” I know how you feel and I was there once myself but I can promise you that taking the “I’m sick attitude and therefore I can’t do anything” is just going to result in your being miserable and “sick” much much longer….much much longer.

One of the difficulties that depressed individuals often encounter is that they have a misguided notion that they should always be happy.

I have found that no one – not even our most giddy and exuberant friends, are happy all of the time. It’s a great idea to get rid of that misconception right now!

However, once we get rid of that misconception, we need to understand just what happiness is, what it is all about, and how we find it.

Over this next week, I am going to be sharing excerpts from an article in the Ensign magazine written by Jeffrey R. Holland entitled The Gospel Path to Happiness. I hope you will stay tuned throughout the entire week. Jeffrey R. Holland is one of my favorite instructors of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is personally acquainted with how difficult it can be to go through depression. His article is wonderful and encompasses everything I think you need to know about Happiness. So, for this week, we will be focusing on Happiness and how we obtain it.

Consider today’s excerpt, only an introduction to Happiness. Remember, there will be more helpful information throughout the week. As you read today’s excerpt, keep a prayer in your heart. Be open to your heart and listen as it tries to speak to you. Most of all, be sure to keep an open attitude. If you are battling depression and are looking for answers, I can promise you that you will need to make some changes. (I did too) However, it is my intent to help you understand some of the underlying issues that may be plaguing you and then to supply you with the tools that I believe will be most helpful!

Oh, and before I forget, be sure to seek the Lord in prayer – both as you read today’s excerpt and as you seek to resolve your depression. Be specific. Don’t just ask for general help. Instead, fine tune your request. For example, ask that today you will find one piece of information that will help you on your path to full recovery or that you will have an open heart and that you will know when you have found information that will be a true source of help for you, etc. Let your heart guide your prayer. You might be surprised what it has to say!

Being specific with prayer is one of  best kept secrets to meaningful prayers that I know of! I hope you will cultivate that strength (being specific when you pray) and that you will find meaningful instruction with today’s piece of instruction from Jeffrey R. Holland!

The Gospel Path to Happiness

So how do we “pursue” happiness, especially when we are young and inexperienced, maybe a little fearful, and life lies ahead of us as a challenging mountain to climb? Well, we know one thing for sure: happiness is not easy to find running straight for it. It is usually too elusive, too ephemeral, too subtle. If you haven’t learned it already, you will learn in the years ahead that most times happiness comes to us when we least expect it, when we are busy doing something else. Happiness is almost always a by-product of some other endeavor.

Henry David Thoreau, one of my favorite writers from my university days, said, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”3 This is one of those great gospel ironies that often don’t seem obvious, like “the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30; D&C 29:30) and “lose your life to find it” (see Matthew 16:25). The gospel is filled with such ironies and indirections, and I think the pursuit of happiness is one of them. So how do we optimize our chance for happiness without pursuing it so directly that we miss it? Let me go to a most remarkable book for some answers.

I do not think God in His glory or the angels of heaven or the prophets on earth intend to make us happy all the time, every day in every way, given the testing and trials this earthly realm is intended to provide. As President James E. Faust (1920–2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency, once phrased it: “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.”4

But my reassurance to you is that in God’s plan we can do much to find the happiness we desire. We can take certain steps, we can form certain habits, we can do certain things that God and history tell us lead to happiness with the confidence that if we live in such a manner, that butterfly is much more likely to land upon our shoulder.

In short, your best chance for being happy is to do the things that happy people do, live the way happy people live, and walk the path that happy people walk. As you do so, your chances to find joy in unexpected moments, to find peace in unexpected places, and to find the help of angels when you didn’t even know they knew you existed improve exponentially.

Today’s excerpt is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/09/the-gospel-path-to-happiness?lang=eng

 

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How Life is Best Measured…

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away

I am all about stewardship – in my mind, that means responsibility to create a meaningful life for myself and to be a meaningful part of the lives of my family, friends, and fellowman.

While that includes being responsible, it does not mean that life has to dull and dreary!

I know that it is hard to comprehend, but heaven is truly amazing and enthralling and worth our very best mortal efforts. Life is not about what’s in it for me, me, me. If it is to be meaningful for the duration – both mortality and eternity – it needs to be about what’s in it for us.

None of us knows how much time the Lord will grant us to live on this earth, but I know that we all inherently sense that this gig (called life) is important and is not to be wasted.

The article I am sharing today takes a few minutes to read, but do it anyway. Your life deserves it! Take a few minutes and contemplate on how you can improve and make your life better! I promise you will be blessed for your efforts! Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

45 Ways To Live Life To The Fullest

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