Monday, November 16, 2009

What is happiness?

I was reading another blog a few days ago. They asked, "What is happiness?" this blogger had posed a very good question with some very good arguments.

I have pondered on this question for several days. I have scribbled down some thoughts in an attempt to try and describe it. I think there is often a confusion between "fun" and "happiness." Sometimes we define them as meaning the same thing but they are not. Of course we can have both at times. ..But we must understand that fun and happiness are different. I have more thoughts on this but I won't go into the details today.

As I continued to ponder on this question I remembered a talk given to the women (but certainly can be applied to men as well) by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Second Counselor in the First Presidency. The following is taken directly from his talk. This is some very wise counsel.

May the Lord bless you all and thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, I hope it inspires you and lifts your life today and gives you hope for tomorrow.
- Alicia

Here is a link to a youtube video also collaborated from bits and pieces of his talk. It's less than 2 minutes so take a second and check it out and then come back to read the rest ;)

To All Who Are Weary
"Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us.

...We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.

I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial.

These things are not insignificant.

However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God’s happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us.

Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.

This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?

This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.”1

Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children”2 because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”3

Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate."

The Work of Creation
"...The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. ...Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.

The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. "

Being Compassionate
"Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”7 Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”8

When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.

As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls.”9
President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”

These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.

President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: “When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.”10

In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness."

My dear sisters [and brothers], I have a simple faith. I believe that as you are faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, as you draw closer to Him in faith, hope, and charity, things will work together for your good.14 I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father—as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others—God will encircle you in the arms of His love.15 Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment.

As spirit daughters [and sons] of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage.

You are choice [children] of our Heavenly Father, and through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Lift up your chin; walk tall. God loves you. We love and admire you.

Of this I testify, and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Second Counselor in the First Presidency


Shawie said...

Hi Alicia,
Thanks for this wonderful post! It's very powerful:)
For me, happiness is a gift, an indescribable gift that just felt in our inner core and shows it in our eyes and the moment we try to explain and analyze it- it will die & fade away... just as we can't analyze God but only feel His presence in our lives with a child-like faith...
thanks for the uplifting comments at my blog:)
God bless you & your family!

Grayscale said...

To me, happiness is never derived from within. It is always given in return - by the smiles of those you are very fond of, and love wholeheartedly.

Tony said...

I echo Grayscale's sentiments.

Awesome post!

Alicia said...

Thankyou everyone. Thankyou Shawie, Grayscale and Tony for taking time to visit my blog. I enjoy visiting your blogs as well.

Have a wonderful day!