In the scriptures, God’s commandments are recorded and then often repeated. Have you ever thought about why? Commandments are given to guide, protect, and bless you—in other words, to make you happy. You may not be able to see the end result or feel the effects of obedience immediately, but the scriptures are constant in this advice.
How to Be Happy
What’s the secret to being happy? True happiness is largely influenced by who you are, how you act, and what you know. Here are some insights into happiness and four ways that can help you find true happiness in life.
4 practices that help bring lasting happiness
Short-term happiness is often influenced by your surroundings and your physical condition, so it’s important to manage the factors that you can, such as getting enough rest, eating well and exercising, and finding satisfaction in work or other activities. But even when faced with conditions beyond your control—like illness, job loss, or the end of a relationship—you can still be content, satisfied, and positive about life. You cannot choose everything that happens to you, but you can choose how you react to your circumstances.
Happiness is also influenced by your spiritual well-being. So it’s no wonder that happiness is a major theme in the scriptures. The Bible proclaims, “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15). The Book of Mormon further notes that it was the “sacred word of God, to which [the people owed] all [their] happiness” (Alma 44:5).
And the Book of Mormon also teaches that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Because God’s ultimate plan is for you to be happy, it makes sense that He would provide a way for that to happen. Below are four things that can help you find true happiness in your life.
Happiness comes from doing right
You can discern right from wrong
God has given commandments to direct your choices. He has also given you the ability to discern right from wrong. The Book of Mormon explains, “He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil” (Helaman 14:31). And the prophet Isaiah promised, “Thine ears shall hear a word . . . , saying, This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21). You have the capacity to do the right thing.
Good choices lead to happiness
When you do what God commands, you will be blessed. Your Heavenly Father wants to grant you your righteous desires, and being obedient to God helps you be worthy to receive the blessings you seek. Jesus Christ taught, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17). Conversely, the scriptures remind us that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
Poor choices can be remedied
Even with His commandments and guidance, God knows you are not perfect and so you will sin. But remember, He wants you to be happy! So He made it possible to overcome and fix wrong choices. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Although mortal consequences to sins are real and may remain, your mistakes will be forgotten by God when you sincerely repent, and you can let go of the guilt, sorrow, anger, or depression that come with them.
Happiness is found in gratitude
Sure, it feels great to have the things you want in life: money, belongings, a great job. But studies show that circumstantial factors like income and living situation account for only about 10 percent of happiness. Rather, people who actively express gratitude experience a substantial increase in happiness scores. How can you put gratitude to work for your own happiness?
Count your blessings
Keep a gratitude journal or just make it a point to identify a few things you are thankful for every day or each week. Be specific and think about how you feel when something good happens. Thank God in prayer daily for all of your blessings. As the Book of Mormon teaches, “live in thanksgiving daily” (Alma 34:38).
Tell someone “Thank you.”
Write a thank you note. Say thanks in person. Post your gratitude to someone over social media. Even thinking about someone who has done something nice for you has positive mental health benefits (see “In Praise of Gratitude,” Harvard Mental Health Letter, Nov. 2011, health.harvard.edu). “Praise is comely for the upright” (Psalm 33:1)—it brings happiness to both the giver and the receiver.
Happiness can increase when you’re around other people
Being alone when you’re feeling down can foster negative emotions as well as make them worse. Being around other people generally encourages happiness.
Strengthen relationships with friends and family
Jesus put it simply: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Make the people in your life a top priority. Spend time together. Talk together. Learn together. Love. Friends and family can pull you up when you are down. Just being with them can give you a sense of comfort and well-being.
Want to be closer to your children and have a happier family life? Find direction on raising a family and being a better parent.
Mend damaged relationships
In some cases, being around certain people may seem impossible. Past actions, hurt feelings, or broken trust can put up barriers to positive relationships. Be the first to make amends. Seek counseling if needed. In all cases, forgive or seek forgiveness. Doing so is key to your happiness: research shows people who remain offended maintain feelings of resentment, hostility, anger, and hatred. By contrast, people who change their response have more positive physical, mental, relationship, and spiritual health. As the Apostle Paul counsels, “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:32).
Find joy in serving others
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” No wonder the Bible tells us “by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Find a cause. Look for someone in need. Share your interests, talents, and skills. Give to those who are poor in means or in spirit. For “he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Proverbs 14:21).
Happiness can be found in hope
One of the greatest enemies to happiness is hopelessness. But through God there is always hope. Whether it is “hope for a better world” (Ether 12:4), hope for personal peace, or simply hope for a better day, just being optimistic increases happiness. The Bible promises that the “hope of the righteous shall be gladness” (Proverbs 10:28). God has also sent us His Holy Spirit, the “Comforter [who] filleth with hope and perfect love” (Moroni 8:26).
Sadness, heartache, and depression are real. But God wants you to be happy. Ponder the counsel He has given through His prophets on how to find lasting happiness. Seek help from friends, family, religious leaders, and mental health professionals, if needed. Accept God’s word, comfort, and guidance, and know this truth: “whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20).
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