Following are some more responses to a recent question from one of our readers, Len. She asked:
I’m Jewish, and I know this might seem like a weird question, but I can’t stop thinking about it: Why do all of the Mormons that I know seem so happy? So genuinely, positively happy? Why do their personal lives seem so fulfilled? Even the Mormon missionaries that I see on the street seem so warm and kind and are always smiling. I really don’t understand how they can be that way 24/7. Is it just an act? Or is it real? I know that Mormons struggle too (everyone has bad days), but I’m really puzzled to see an entire group of people emanating joy, success, and happiness.
Here are some more responses (and thanks to those who have shared their thoughts in comments).
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I suffer from chronic depression, I do what I can to relieve it, mostly I turn to the knowledge below, press on and remember what there is to be truly happy about.
9. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and your joy might be full.
This is an ancient writing, from many, that I believe to be true. I believe that Jesus is my Savior and that through this mortal existence He desires that I have happiness and joy through all the learning I go through here on this earth. As I face the many joys and trials in my life and that of our family I know we are loved by a wonderful Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world who desires we return to live with them again. They rejoice in our righteous choices and help us to see the way in our trials to become more like them and be their disciple. This brings and gives me the happiness to live each day to its fullest and be filled with joy, and I am.
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Understanding the purpose of life and the Plan of Happiness does really help us comprehend that principle and look to the struggles as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks… although it is often a lot easier said than done when we are in the middle of it all. Knowing the Savior is there for us, through His atonement, helps hugely if we will just ask Him for the help… and then generally the answer comes by going out and helping somebody else.
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Everyone has trials, but for me, my firm belief in God and my Savior buffers the trials. High moments are more elevated, low moments are cushioned, because I know God knows me, and cares for me as an individual. I know He sent me a Savior; I know I can be redeemed. I know I can be with my loved ones forever, and that our Heavenly Home is only a step away. I look around and see His hand in everything; how could I not be happy, knowing He is there? There have been moments, when I’ll see a particular vista, and have to stop and catch my breath, because I’m quite sure God designed the entire universe to bring me *that* scene in *that* moment, just to delight me. The world around me is a joy; the good people in it are a joy; my family is a joy; my scriptures are a joy; my Sabbath is a joy; even my struggles can be refined to joy. God is good, He is constant, He “doeth only marvelous things”, and life, with all the sorrows and pains, can be a joy through faith in Him.
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I always go to the Joseph Smith quote: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”
― Joseph Smith Jr.
It really is an expectation/obligation to strive for happiness by being as Christlike as possible. It is hard to believe but important to understand that, despite the second by second disappointments, heartaches, sorrows etc. that the Father and his Son experience as they watch us fumble through life, they are perfectly happy and want more than anything else for us to join them in that state. This is in fact their “work and glory”. Happiness seems to me to be a choice rather than an experience. I don’t always choose it, but I think I do ultimately know how to attain it.