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, History of the Church, 5:134–35)
That path that leads to happiness always seems to include self-discipline and self-denial. A few years ago a friend told me, "Most of the problems in this world are caused when people think they have to be happy 100 percent of the time." He went on to explain that we too often seek for happiness in pleasure and then pleasure turns into addiction and disappointment. Pleasure and self-denial are incongruous. So are addiction and happiness.
Wickedness never was happiness. (Alma 41:10)I'm sure my friend was right. I don't expect to be happy all the time and that helps me be happy most of the time. I don't think I am on this earth to be happy all the time but to learn how to be happy. It takes practice.
I can't experience happiness unless I also experience misery. Happiness and misery are one or neither exists.
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (2 Nephi 2:11)That's why it seems that grief is a form of happiness. If I don't grieve the loss of loved ones then I really haven't known love. Happiness is not the absence of suffering. Suffering is its confidante.
When you seek happiness in pleasure alone, you are running from pain, suffering, and sorrow, seeking it in ease, distraction, surfeiting and inebriation. Only the happiness that joins with suffering lasts. Pleasure fades by dawn, if not earlier.
But I do know that happiness is my purpose, and that true happiness is found in joy.
Men are, that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25)
Joy, happiness in its purest form, is a companion of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.If I am a companion of the Spirit, those things will naturally follow, but if I part company with Him, I can't count joy as my friend.
If I want to be happy, I better be prepared for some tough times. Knowing this, I prefer "to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25).
Honestly, it's times when I am suffering the most that I feel the most joyful. Much of happiness is anticipation, not relief, and in the kindness of those around you.
P.S. For the next few months, I am going to be working harder on discovering and appreciating what makes me happy. See 100happydays.com. If you want to join the adventure, follow me on Instagram (mjf2009) and I'll follow you back.