With social media full of people having non-stop adventures, thrilling experiences, pleasure-filled trips, steady prosperity, and seemingly care-free lives, it is so easy to be swayed by the idea that this is the way to true happiness. There’s no mistaking that this way of life can be exciting and fun, but true happiness is so much more than constant excitement and emotional high. True happiness is a state of being, something that we can control and achieve through our sustained efforts. It is something that endures no matter the situation we’re in.
So how can we achieve it?
Many people fail to see joy because they have an ‘I will be happy when’ mentality, a belief that once we finally ‘make it’, we’ll be content and happy. What if we don’t make it? What happens then? Is our happiness solely dependent on whether something happens in our lives or not? Is our happiness conditional on our success?
If we let this mentality define us, our lives will become a spiral of momentary peak moments every time we ‘make it’ but without ever truly understanding and embracing the joys that come from learning the ‘aha’ moments and growth we experience while working towards our goals.
It’s not that we shouldn’t focus on our goals and destination. The destination is what gives us purpose. It’s the driving force behind our efforts. But while we enjoy making those efforts, it doesn’t hurt to pause and let the positive emotions linger a little while longer and celebrate our progress every day, no matter how small. If we don’t progress and experience a setback, we can still recognize the lessons that the experience taught us and how we can do and become better. When we do this, happiness becomes something that we can pursue and achieve every day.
Another important thing about happiness is that it is not the absence of struggles, frustrations, pain, opposition, and other unpleasant feelings. We all experience some degree of difficulty in our lives. Happiness is learning how to live with difficulties and responding to them the best way we can. How we respond to these difficulties can expand our capacity to see, feel, and embrace happiness. In our response lies growth and learning that can lead to fulfillment and joy. We can grow through what we go through with optimism and hope for good things to come.
The last and key aspect to achieving lasting happiness is walking side by side with God every step of the way. Because happiness is the purpose and design of our existence, it is not surprising that before sending us to Earth, God prepared a path to help us achieve what we came here for, if we choose to. This path has been laid out for us in the holy scriptures, written by prophets of old and living prophets in the latter days.
This path to lasting happiness is not about living perfectly because no one can attain perfection in this life, except Jesus Christ who was perfected line upon line, precept upon precept. All that God requires of us is our best efforts. In a meeting with Primary children, President Russel M. Nelson shared perhaps the most reassuring words to help us better understand the immense love that God has for us. He said, “[T]he Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.” Our efforts to follow the commandments, love God, our neighbor, even our enemies, forgive others, live humbly and peacefully, respect others no matter their beliefs, care for ourselves and those in need, remember Him in times of joy and sorrow, and strive to continue in the path that will lead us back to Him, really do COUNT.
Our efforts count no matter how small we think they are. If we give it the best we can, He will magnify our efforts and help us reap the promised reward of eternal happiness. Happiness doesn’t just happen, we make it happen through Christ who is the ultimate author of lasting happiness.