Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Spiritual (page 2 of 2)

The Pursuit of Happiness: Becoming and Belonging

0 (2) Last fast Sunday, as I was listening to the testimonies borne over the pulpit, I noticed a pattern. Over and over people were testifying about how the gospel brings us real and lasting (even eternal) happiness. I felt something within me agree with the sentiment, but at the same time, a question of “why” came to my mind. Why is it that the gospel of Jesus Christ allows us to feel joy and happiness both here on earth, and in the eternities? Over the next month, a few different situations lead to something really clicking for me; something that helped me answer this question of “why” and “how” the principles that we are taught in church (and hopefully in our homes and here at BYU as well) are essential in our own personal pursuit of happiness.

“Men are that they might have joy”

In 2 Nephi 2:27, we read, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” This scripture says a great deal about our purpose. We were created, and sent here to earth because our Creator wants us to have eternal joy. How amazing is that? In this life, and in the life to come, we are meant to have happiness, and Heavenly Father’s mission involves helping us to achieve that happiness. However, that doesn’t mean that life is all fun and games!

Why is this? Throughout my life, I have learned that it’s because true happiness doesn’t come from simple ease. Having everything go right for us all the time, or not having anything bad happen in our lives does NOT automatically result in happiness. Many people in today’s world will argue that it does – hedonism (the theory that pleasure—and therefore lack of pain—is the highest good and proper aim of human life) is an ideology that plagues our society and is prevalent particularly in the media that we consume every day. Knowing that we are meant to be happy, and also better understanding the idea that Heavenly Father allows things to happen in order to increase our eternal happiness can give us hope. We must trust that everything we go through is part of God’s plan, and takes place so that we “might have joy.”

Becoming

If we are meant to be happy, how does our Heavenly Father help us get there? This summer, I read a self-help book entitled The Happiness Project (Rubin, 2009). In this book, the author invited the reader (me) to write down a list of the things that they enjoy doing. As I went over my list, I started noticing a pattern. A majority of the items I had written down involved personal improvement or developing my talents: performing in a play or musical, drawing portraits, reading books, trying new recipes, any type of learning, singing or playing the piano, yoga, swimming, scripture study. As I pondered about why this was, the thought came to me that one of the reasons we are here on earth is to BECOME.

We are here to reach our full potential. To become like our Heavenly Father and Mother, and to one day to live as they do: as perfect beings who can continue progressing, learning, growing, and creating eternally. Our spirits, who have existed for longer than we can comprehend, know this! Deep down, we know and understand that we are meant to become, and our spirits rejoice as we come closer to reaching this potential. This is why trials and difficulties can add to our happiness. As we overcome adversity, we grow and come further along in our progression towards perfection. Similarly, most of the growing that we do in this life involves getting outside of our comfort zone and trying new things. Developing our talents takes courage, practice, and at times, failure. Remembering that we are meant to become can give us the strength to get back up and try again.

Belonging

A pattern also emerged in the remaining items on my personal happiness list. I realized that anything that didn’t have to do with my own personal becoming, had to do either with helping someone else become, or connection and nurturing a relationship. Serving others, teaching, snuggling with my husband, spending time with my family; all of these things have to do with BELONGING. We know that from the time before we came to this earth, we existed as a family—God’s family.

We did not exist or function in isolation, and we are not meant to do so now. This is why Heavenly Father has organized us into family units here on earth, and why His plan involves being with our families for eternity! This is also why He has provided us with prayer, and his Holy Ghost: two ways that we can personally connect and improve our relationship with Him. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) We are meant to connect and foster lasting relationships here on earth, and forever into the future. Because of this, it also brings us joy to help others come closer their potential, and make choices that will also allow them to be with us forever. Understanding this can help us to reach out to others, and to strive to make real human connections with the people around us. We are more likely to forgive and to give others the benefit of the doubt. We can begin to see others as our Father does, and help encourage them (as well as learn from them) in their own journey to become and to belong.

Wickedness NEVER was happiness

Whenever I think about happiness, I cannot help but think about the scripture Alma 41:10 “Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” When we think about this scripture in the context of becoming and belonging, it makes perfect sense. Sinning, or doing anything that separates us from God, has serious consequences that involve stopping our progress (literally damning us) and keeping us from our eternal relationships. It cuts us off from our potential, and from living forever with those that we love. Although it may feel good at the moment, wickedness can never truly bring us real and eternal joy. Heavenly Father has given us commandments and guidelines that will help keep us all on the right track in our journey to become and belong. They help accomplish His mission of bringing us eternal happiness and joy. 

Ever since I had these realizations relating to my personal pursuit of happiness, I have been able to find the principles of becoming and belonging in every one of my endeavors. Understanding that the things that will help me find true joy and happiness are those things that help bring me closer to my potential as a child of God, along with bringing me closer to those around me, has brought focus, purpose, and peace to my life. I know that as we all strive to become more and more like our Heavenly Parents, and work on developing connections with those that we are blessed to come in contact with, we will have more success in making the world a better and happier place, and we will all be one step closer to carrying the joy that we feel now through to the eternities.

Written by: Rian Gordon

Sabbath Message: The Role of Parents

two-thousand-stripling-warriorsWhen I was young, my mother showed me a verse in the Book of Mormon that had always meant a lot to her, and that she considered to be her goal in life. It is a verse well known throughout the Church, and is found in Alma 56:47-48:

“47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”

I have always loved these verses, especially because I believe my mother achieved her goal in life, which was to teach my sister and me to trust in God and believe that He would always be there.

However, as important as my mother has been and always will be, I am also very grateful to have a loving and supporting father. In the same chapter in Alma, we find another verse that I think is sometimes overlooked. In verse 27 it reads,

“And now it came to pass in the second month of this year, there was brought unto us many provisions from the fathers of those my two thousand sons.”

I love this verse because it shows that the stripling warriors were not fatherless; rather, their fathers were out doing their job, providing for their families. The pattern here is perfectly in line with the pattern set forth by the modern prophets and apostles: the primary role of the father is to provide and protect the family, and the primary role of the mother is to teach and nurture the children in love and righteousness.mother and girl

 

Together, as equals, the mother and father carry the responsibility to raise the family in the Gospel, teaching them to love God and keep His commandments. The blessings and protection of God were clearly witnessed in the lives of the stripling warriors, as a direct result of their obedience. This obedience was produced by the righteous teachings of their parents, meaning that when families remain true to God, He remains true to them.

—Kimball Gardner, Stance

Sabbath Message: Whom Will Ye Serve?

“[C]hoose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).family-walking-along-beach-1117003-print

I’m not sharing this scripture because it is my favorite, or because it changed my life when I memorized it in Seminary. I think this is one of my dad’s favorite scriptures, and I remember enjoying it when I read it for the first time in Seminary. But it’s never been one of those scriptures that stuck with me. It’s never been my go-to scripture.family-prayer

Although it has never been that scripture for me, someday I want it to be one of the most applicable and meaningful scriptures in my repertoire. Someday, when I have a family with little children who depend on me for so much—I will want this scripture to have meaning. When I have a family I will teach my children the gospel of Christ. I will teach them right from wrong. I will train and guide them in all that they need to know. I will teach them who to serve. When I have a family, we will serve the Lord.

—Shelby Olsen, Stance

Sabbath Day Message: He is the Gift

What are you Thankful for?

This time of year it can seem almost cheesy to express gratitude, however there is a good reason this holiday is all about giving thanks.

Happiness cannot be achieved through the acquisition of temporal desires and “keeping up with the Jones’.” True happiness comes only through faith, love, and obedience in our Father and Heaven and our relationships with His children. Each of God’s commandments are part of His plan of Happiness –a plan which shows us how to be happy.

images“Oh give thanks to the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

One commandment we are given is to be thankful. When you focus on the things you have to be grateful for, and when you express your gratitude to your God and to those around you, you prove to yourself that you have much to be happy about.

Thomas S. Monson teaches this concept better than I ever could in his talk “An Attitude of Gratitude.

During this season, take the time to kneel down before your Father in Heaven, and express a prayer of gratitude. You’ll find that doing so will make this holiday season full of more happiness than it can bring on its own.

By Janai Skiles, Social Media Director

Sabbath Message: General Conference

We are half-way through General Conference! What have you learned? Share your thoughts on twitter and facebook and #LDSconf.

Watch General Conference Live on LDS.org!

Catch up on Saturday sessions, Priesthood, and the General Women’s Meeting here.

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Doctrine and Covenants 1:38

From your Social Media Adviser, Janai Gariety

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