How to Be Happy
One of the greatest of human desires is a feeling of happiness. We want to be happy, successful, fulfilled, and loved by others. We spend much of our time seeking ways to feel better and to improve our lot in life. Why is it then that so many people are unhappy or depressed?
We recently heard about the sad death of the great singer and songwriter Whitney Houston. A woman with an incredible voice and an amazing talent that provided beauty for all of the rest of us to enjoy. She had money, fame, recognition, popularity, adoring fans-all the things that people think are going to bring someone happiness.
Did she know how to be happy?
With all of those things that she enjoyed why did she turn to a life of alcohol and drugs? Why did she marry someone that definitely wasn’t good for her? Why did she continually lie to others about her current state of affairs and the conditions of her life?
Sadly, there are many more examples similar to hers of not showing us ways of how to be happy. I need not rehearse them here, just look in the paper tomorrow and you’ll find another one. Any of the latest issues of the tabloid magazines relish these type of stories. It’s almost as if we look at these pitiful stories as a way to make our humdrum lives seem better. “The rich and famous have it worse off than I do,” probably crosses most peoples minds while reading them.
But reading these stories does not help us learn how to be happy because seeking these things will never make us truly happy.
Remember when you were a kid? If you don’t, just be around some young kids for a while and it may strike a memory. Let’s take a trip back to childhood memories for second. Watching my own children as made me realize that I must’ve thought some of the same things when I was their age.
Kids love to play and enjoy toys of a huge variety. Most children do not care what the condition of the toys are in. They don’t have to be latest fanciest or flashiest gizmo. Many times a simple toy truck with a broken wheel can provide hours of enjoyment. Girls can play with dolls that have had a previous unflattering haircut by their former owner and not care anything about the type of clothes they have on. I remember when my youngest daughter would cut out pictures of bras or bathing suits and tape them to her chest when she was three years old.
We see kids all over the world in deplorable horrific Third World conditions playing in the streets. A ball can be made out of almost anything and they can have fun kicking it around amidst the squalor. Kids will give things to others without thought of payment or value and enjoy the act of giving. Reading or telling a story can be as entertaining as any videogame or high production Hollywood movie.
Kids know how to be happy. Kids know the secret and we’ve just forgotten it.
It our mixed up world, we place great value on things that have little eternal value. What dying man can purchase even one more breath with all of the money he’s acquired throughout his life? (Og Mandino) What money can soothe an aching heart of guilt and remorse that has been acquired through a lifetime of lying, stealing, cheating and theft? Who can restore the loss of virtue and innocence that has been stolen by someone seeking personal pleasure through severely mixed up priorities?
Many of us find great interest in stories about celebrities who have fallen like Whitney Houston because we’re all seeking the same answers to the question is how to be happy. We look at her life and think that we would be happy with everything she had, but the fact is we wouldn’t. We would suffer the same fate.
Are you ready for the secret of how to be happy? Are you willing to put aside all your preconceived notions for a moment, all of the things that you’ve read today that promise a release from pain and the gratification of pleasure if you’ll just purchase such and such product? Are you ready to be revealed one of the most profound and simple truths of all eternity?
Here is the great secret of how to be happy. Here is the ultimate source of peace and contentment in a loud and noisy world. Don’t be shocked if you’ve heard it before because it’s been talked through the ages by thinkers, poets and prophets alike.
The great secret to of how to be happy is service to others.
Service that is freely given without pay or even desire for a return. Service that is unselfishly given and the more anonymously given, the greater feeling of peace. It’s just as Jesus when he said (paraphasing): “when you give to your brother, make sure that no one sees you, so that your Father in Heaven can reward you”.
I attended a church once and I noticed on the side of the bench a name engraved on a plaque attached to the bench. In fact as I looked around, every bench had a plaque on them. I also noticed bricks on the floor with names on them, columns holding up the ceiling and walls with names engraved in them, posts, basins, picture frames, doors, etc. all with names engraved on them. It was obvious that the church was trying to give people motivation to give to their church with the reward of people noticing their name, even long after the time that they died where they would be remembered and thought about.
Sadly, their reward did not go with them. They had received that reward in life and have been deceived. They received adulation and adoration for the money given as a donation. Because they had received that reward their Father in Heaven had nothing to give them.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints I have worked many times with the youth in our wards. Many youth programs in other churches spend a lot of money creating opportunities for kids to go on trips to Disneyland or Magic Mountain or even foreign countries. The LDS church looks of such activities as not being very spiritually profitable. With extremely limited budgets we spend all our time trying to find ways to bring the spirit into their lives and service projects are one of the greatest ways to do so. Cleaning up an elderly woman’s yard, fixing the roadway along the bike path, shoveling the snow from off the walkway of an invalids home, bringing food to someone stricken with the disease — there are endless ways to serve mankind.
And every single time we have felt the spirit and been happy.
Yes I know it would be wonderful to be able to spend our time in service to one another and not have to worry about paying the bills and working for a meager sustenance, but you can still be happy in whatever profession you are involved in. It’s great to have a job where you feel happy and love going to work. But if you don’t, just know that if you want to know how to be happy, start thinking of someone else. Every person in the world can find someone worse off than themselves. Everyone has burdens to bear and would love a tender smile or complement or kind act from an anonymous source.