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!
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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