Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happiness

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

WHEN OUR EXPECTATIONS (AND HOPES) ARE ACHIEVED IN THESE AREAS, WE FEEL A LEVEL OF HAPPINESS, OR CONTENTMENT


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.

2 comments:

  1. I am sad I missed your lesson but I was working. I am glad it went good and had a good turn out! It sounds like it was a good one. :)

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  2. IrishgirlandschmuliJune 15, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    I love this lesson. I needed to read this. I have been in a pity party and this lesson brought me outof it!

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