Smile! It is time to bring the happiness on. What is one of the keys to happiness? To keep the commandments of course.
Though some people might say that the commandments of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are restricting and keep us from being happy, really, the opposite is true. The commandments are a means to protect us from evil, which in turn leads to our happiness.
The happiness God wants for us is not temporary, but long term with treasures in heaven. The sacrifices we make to keep the commandments are worth it, and if they make you happy then they don’t really seem like sacrifices.
Happiness in Time and Energy
Sacrifice your time for the things that matter most.
This is probably the most common sacrifice, one we make daily. There are numerous things that take our time and energy as followers of Christ: reading scriptures, praying, attending our church meetings, serving others, going to the temple, going on a mission, etc.
However, every one of those things brings us joy. They help us gain more knowledge of the gospel and bring us closer to God; giving us comfort and guidance throughout our life. Making others happy through service is almost always a guarantee to bring us joy; it’s practically a scientific fact. This also applies to those who serve missions; their service is to bring the joy of Christ’s gospel to others. When we bring others to the Church, we are promised blessings of joy in heaven (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15).
Happiness without Drugs and Strong Drink
Sacrifice the world’s idea of fun.
For most in the world, the idea of having a good time on the weekend is to go to a bar or party at a club. The consumption of alcohol and other harmful substances is seen as a means of escape and fun. Members of the Church know to avoid such substances because of what is taught in the Word of Wisdom.
There is also insurmountable evidence from various scientific sources that shows how truly harmful these substances are in impairing judgement and causing fatal diseases. When following the Word of Wisdom, we gain happiness through good health and decisions made in a stable state of mind. Sacrificing drugs and alcohol shows that you know that there are better ways to have fun than risking your health.
Happiness By Way of Giving not Receiving
Sacrifice your means.
People often think with the mindset of “if only I have this one thing, then I will be happy.” But when they finally get that one thing, their eye catches a hold of something else they want.
I am not saying that worldly things are bad and should be scorned like the plague, but I am saying that we cannot base our happiness on the material items we do and do not have. We know that we will not be able to keep the physical things of this life when we die: what we will be able to keep is the knowledge, memories, relationships and experiences of our life. The scriptures teach that we must:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21)
Members of the church give up worldly things on a regular basis through tithing and fast offerings. Doing so creates the treasure of forwarding of the work of the Church. Temples are built, missionaries are fed, and humanitarian efforts are spread across the earth because of the money the members donate.
Happiness by Simplifying
Sacrifice the need to do everything.
Put simply, this means that we should not try to take on too many projects at once. If you are juggling six things at the same time, you are bound to get overwhelmed. Doing too much creates a lack of balance in our lives that results in stress.
Write a list of all of the things you need to do and examine it. Mark the most necessary things and focus on those; if you have time left over then you can try to tackle the secondary things.
Also, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. You aren’t superman and you will be giving someone else the opportunity to serve. Sacrificing the need to accomplish every little thing will allow you to prioritize what’s most important, while sacrificing your pride to allow others to give you a hand will allow others to feel the blessing of service.
Happiness with Progression
Sacrifice your complacency.
You are probably confused because this sacrifice is the opposite of the previous. But once again, it comes back to balance.
When a person does not have a purpose to accomplish daily, it takes toll on their self-esteem. Though leisure and taking time for oneself is a great way to keep life balanced, having too much leisure time can be detrimental. Sitting around the house all day watching TV can make anyone feel useless and under appreciated.
We must do something. Give up the couch and gain a hobby or learn a new skill. This is a great way to pull one out from doing nothing. Another is by making goals, immediate or long term. Write down the goals and the steps accomplish them, and then follow through.
Happiness with Face-to-Face Time
Sacrifice your social media time.
We shouldn’t be spending more time with our friends on Facebook than our friends in real life. Meaningful, face-to-face relationships are a key to happiness. It is more important to spend time with your spouse, children, parents, and friends than to beat your high score on Candy Crush.
So turn off the smartphone and get off of your Twitter feed for a couple of hours and spend some time with someone. Play board games, go for a walk, or simply talk with them. When we spend time with the most important people in our life we not only grow closer to them, but we let them know how much we appreciate and love them.
Happiness with Gratitude
Sacrifice your pride and a false sense of happiness.
You may be asking, how is pride is in the way of our happiness? Well if you look at the Book of Mormon, you will notice that things usually go bad if people are being prideful. When we start to think that we are better than anyone else, it leads to disaster. Of course, you should feel good about yourself, but not to the point that it makes you look down on others and becomes destructive.
A key way to sacrifice our pride is to be grateful. When we express gratitude, we acknowledge the help of others in our life. When we count our blessings, we realize how much God has given us in life. When we seek to have a grateful heart, we become less prideful and more humble because we recognize how much we have been blessed.
Happiness through Influences
Sacrifice negative influences.
This one may seem like a no-duh, but surprisingly it isn’t. In the world today we are surrounded by negative influences whether it is movies, music, or even a bad friend. The things that we surround ourselves with will influence us for good or for bad. We must strive to rid our lives of the negative influences and replace them with good ones.
One of the biggest negative influence on ourselves can be. . . ourselves? Yes, and it has a name: bad attitude. If you are constantly frowning, whining, and complaining, then you just might give yourself low self-esteem. How do we battle a bad attitude? Replace it with a good one.
When introducing the 2009 mutual theme, “An Example of the Believers,” to the youth of the church, the Young Women’s presidency encouraged the youth to do three things, the last of which was to smile daily. We must smile even when we do not feel like it. When we choose to smile and to not murmur about our problems, we choose to be happy.
I remember a time in middle school when I was often unhappy and had low self-esteem. However, I had an amazing seminary teacher. Every day she would greet me with a vigorous handshake, a question about how I was doing, and the biggest, happiest smile I had ever seen. I looked forward to greeting her everyday just to see her smile.
One day, she told me how glad she was to greet me every day because I always had a big smile. I was surprised. I had not realized I could smile with all of the miserable feelings I had. However, when I thought about it, I realized that when my teacher smiled at me, I always smiled back. As I smiled, happiness returned again to my life.