Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Well, my class on the Basics of Happiness was tonight.  There was a good turn out, and I loved the feedback from the women.  This is a bare-bones outline of the class:

Happiness comes from 4 main sources:
    1. Our sense of worth/value
    2. A feeling of accomplishment and/or success
    3. Love- giving and receiving
    4. Selfless service


That is why a person who values money and fame can feel an honest sense of happiness and satisfaction when he reaches his goal.  Without qualifying or quantifying that happiness- it is happiness to them all the same.

There are 3 ways to gain/increase happiness:

1. Genetics: There are optimists and there are pessimists.  The cup is seen as either half full or half empty.  We all perceive a certain level of happiness in our lives because that's how we are wired. Our innate perception, no matter how positive or negative, doesn't change the amount of water in it.

2. Created: No matter what level of happiness we are genetically disposed to, we were all born with the capacity to create additional happiness based on our choices and efforts.

 We can look at the main sources of happiness and ask ourselves: How is the definer of my value and the author of my expectations and goals? Hollywood says my size 12 is fat- so does that lower my feeling of value or worth? Society says that I should have a spotless home and career and have my children involved in all kinds of sports and music - so are those my expectations for myself, too?

If happiness comes when our expectations are met, then it is our responsibility to make sure our values and goals are of God's, not the worlds.

With the power of PERSPECTIVE and our purposeful CHOICES, we can find happiness.  As we align our will with Gods, as we begin to see ourselves and our lives through His eye, our goals will change, our expectations will change, the way we love and allow ourselves to be love change, and the way we serve others will change.

I love the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Prayer is the key to creating happiness.  We can pray for perspective, and courage to make choices that will ultimately brings us the greatest happiness- living God's will. My brother put it perfectly in his comment on the last post: For the Baptist preacher, the key to happiness is converting a soul to God. For the teenager living in Southern California the key to happiness is "making it big" as an actor. For an African, the key to happiness is having pure, disease free drinking water for her children. The key to happiness can be defined by several different desires and passions, so I would suggest context is a profound qualifier for the lesson, which I am sure you have prepared!! For me, as a father of four, an unemployed recovering addict, the key to happiness for is twofold. First is knowing through personal prayer what the will of the Father is for me, second, being brave enough to do what He expects of me. It is only when I have successfully accomplished matching both understanding coupled with action that I feel happy. Otherwise, life sucks. 

Aristotle said: "Happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue." As we choose to live our lives in accordance with virtue, or God's will for us, we create happiness for ourselves.

3. The third source of happiness is that happiness which is Given: Even after all I can do, my cup is not full.

George Q Cannon said: It is not given to men and women on the earth to be entirely satisfied, if they seek for satisfaction and happiness in worldly things. There is only one way in which perfect happiness can be obtained, and that is by having the Spirit of God.”

Perfect happiness, or complete happiness, can come only as a gift from God through the Spirit.  You may have felt it in your life already.  There are moments when I look at my children and I see them as He does, and I am overwhelmed with joy.  That is a gift.

There are moments when I am driving and saying a prayer of gratitude, and I feel an added measure of peace and happiness.  That is a gift.

There are even moments when I am in tears, on my knees, just praying for something, and I have felt the calming and reassurance rest of happiness and love.  That is a gift.

After all we can do, we are still deficient.  But, through the tender love of a Heavenly Father and the miracle of our elder brother's Atonement, we can be made whole and perfect.  Even in something as simple as happiness.

One last thing we talked about along with Perspective and Choice was Gratitude.  Gordon B Hinckley said: "Gratitude is of the very essence of worship. … When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives". Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love.” 
The question was asked: Can you feel happiness when things are hard or you are sad? The answer is a resounding, YES!

Life wasn't meant to be continuous moments of happiness and glee.  There are trials, there are troubles, there are pains and sadness. But, if we can be grateful for all the moments in our lives, and see them for what they are - all opportunities to grow- then we can still feel a sense of happiness even in our darkest moments.  Especially when those darkest moments are what bring us closest to God.

Happiness isn't all joy, laughing and giggles.  Perfect happiness is peace, strength, perspective, faith, courage and action.  Happiness is living a life tandem to God's will, taking full advantage of the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and loving them, yourself and those around you.

We have the power, and the obligation, to create happiness within ourselves.  Joshua said, "Choose you this day whom you will serve."  WE have a choice- who will we look to to define our worth and set our goals and standards.  

As we make honest and concerted efforts to choose His ways, He will bless us with an added measure of happiness and joy, until our happiness is full, complete and perfect.

The irony of it all is that today was a really tough day for me. I started out the day in tears of frustration and sorrow, and ended it with tears of gratitude and happiness.  My circumstances didn't change, but my perspective did.  I made the choice to see things differently.  And when I did, I was rewarded with a peace and comfort and happiness that I know did not come from me. What a blessing this has been for me in my life.

Gordon B Hinckley also said: "Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine."

I hope you have success in finding and creating and receiving happiness in your lives.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What is the Key to Happiness?

I am going to teach a class about this on Tuesday.  If you live in my area, you are invited to come.

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately.  I have my own ideas, but I want to hear from you. Even if you don't usually leave comments, please just take a second to tell me what you think is the key to happiness.

I'll post my thoughts later in the week after my class.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


There is an empty soda can sitting on my desk. In big letters it brags, "0 CALORIE." That means I can drink it and not gain any weight.  I don't want to gain weight, so I drink it.

Sometimes, when I am hungry, I will drink my 0 calorie soda to satisfy my craving.  I feel full and I didn't take in any extra calories!  Sounds like a win-win. But it's not.

The other day I was in a hurry.  So, instead of eating lunch, I grabbed a soda so my stomach would stop making noise. It worked.  My stomach stopped making noise. But, by the end of the day, even though I had ingested plenty, I had, in reality, taken in little nutrition. Our bodies need proper nutrition to feel strong, fight diseases and to function at it's fullest capacity.  It takes great care and attention to nurture and feed our bodies the right way.

Our soul need the same care and attention. It would be great if our spirituality could be measured in something like calories. For fun, I'll call them spalories (spiritual calories).  Spalories are vital to our spiritual health and well-being. We must take in healthy, good spalories so our spirits ( our testimony and spirituality) will be strong, fight temptation and function to it's fullest capacity.

There are many ways to get spalories.

Here is short spalorie chart:

Prayer: 500 spalories ( add 100 bonus spalories for kneeling.  Add 300 more for crying tears of gratitude or pleading)

Scripture Study: 500 spalories

Attending Church meetings and activities: 1000 spalories

Doing a selfless act of service: 600 spalories

Sharing your testimony: 1500 spalories (that is sometimes really scary!)

Hugging your children: 200 spalories.

Reading this blog: 300 spalories (just kidding.....or maybe not!)

You get the drift.  There are many things we can do that are worth plenty of spalories. I'm sure you can add plenty more to the list.

Let's say I need 2000 spalories a day for proper spiritual nutrition. I could pray twice a day and read my scriptures and be almost completely nourished.

But, Satan has come up with his own 0-spalorie replacements.  He would rather you partake of his goods than those that provide real spiritual nutrition.

Here is the adversaries 0 spalorie chart:

Standing in front of the mirror giving dirty looks at your thighs: 0 spalories

Yelling at your kids: 0 spalories

Being critical of others: 0 spalories

Watching inappropriate tv shows and movies: 0 spalories

The list goes on and on.  You could spend a lot of time on these activities and have a zero spalorie balance at the end of the day! In fact, if you do these things often enough they can actually take away from your spalorie reserve!

What's a spalorie reserve, you ask?

Great question!

We know that testimony and spirituality are not static. They either grow or shrink each day, depending on our spaloric intake. If I don't get enough spalories, my testimony and spirituality lessen- even if it is just by the slightest, imperceptible degree. But, if I meet or exceed my daily spaloric intake, my testimony and spirituality will grow stronger. And, if I go way over and above that amount, I will create a spiritual foundation of spaloric reserve!

But, if I neglect my spaloric intake, and replace it with 0-spaloric activities and attitudes, my reserves with quickly shrink.

Are all 0-spaloric activities bad? No. I like a good reality TV show once in a while.  But, it is bad when it replaces high-spaloric activities, like when I replaced my healthy lunch with a soda.

Bottom line: Feed your soul. God has given us countless ways to take in spalories.  The numbers above are just for fun. Figure out for yourself your spaloric intake.  Make a spaloric goal for yourself.  Find the things that are high in spaloric value that you just love, and indulge yourself!

Watch what you say and do.  Ask yourself, how many spalories is this worth? How many spalories do I need to nourish my soul today?

Love your spalories, love yourself!  I think that's my new slogan!