In Pursuit of Happiness

In Pursuit of Happiness

By Sarah Halliday

Happiness is a hard construct to define.  Books have been written, movies have been produced, and songs have been composed about it, but happiness will always mean different things to different people.  To me, temporal happiness is hiking in the mountains on sunny spring day or surrounding a bonfire with my best friends singing or watching Pride and Prejudice while enjoying a root beer float.  Although these things are temporary, eternal happiness can come a result of living the gospel.  As I've gone throughout my life, and especially this last week, I've had experiences that helped me realized how I can find my own eternal happiness in this crazy life. 

I recently started working at a residential treatment center for adolescent girls and within the few short weeks I've been there, I've learned things that I can honestly say have changed my life.  This past week one of the more quiet and reserved girls opened up during group therapy and talked about how when she first came to the RTC, she felt so restricted by all the rules and restrictions she had to follow.  As she shared part of her story she conveyed that even though at first she would lash out and be physically violent towards staff, she realized that the more she complied to the rules, she felt happier and more liberated.  This girl couldn't really explain why that was, but the more I thought about it, I realized that living the gospel is very similar in that way. 

As an active member of the LDS church, I completely understand that there are a lot of commandments, rules, and contributions that are required.  Often times, it can get very stressful to live up to all of them and I may not always understand the reason for why I'm living the way I do.  It's wonderful, however, that God, my church leaders, and my family and friends don't expect me to be perfect, but just try my hardest and do my best.  Although it may seem contradictive and counterintuitive, the more I adhere to God's commandments, I feel the same way the girl I mentioned earlier feels - happy and free.

The happiness that we feel in this life is the direct result of our obedience to the commandments of God.  In 1971, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that "the happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the peace of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of the Latter-day Saints, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints, and the eternal salvation and exaltation of this people lie in walking in obedience to the counsels of … God."  I'd like to add that this happiness, peace, progress, and prosperity are available to anyone who keeps the commandments of God.  We've been blessed to be able to receive guidance from God, who knows us and loves us because we're His children.  Why wouldn't we do what He's asked us to do?  He knows what's best for us. 

In reality, what constricts us the most are our sins and our attitude.  As we keep the commandments of God and live according to the gospel, we can truly be set free by the Atonement of Jesus Christ from the chains that bind us.  We can have immense happiness and live a better life.