I haven’t been participating in General Conference Book Club so far, although before conference I had every intention of doing so. Then disaster (or Satan) struck and I was left with not much desire for spiritual things. But I am learning a little more about patience and endurance, and although I don’t feel completely back to “normal”, or fully engaged spiritually, I do feel as if some healing as been going on, and I’m ready to jump back in – especially when there is a conference talk that speaks so much to my predicament.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, “I thought that living the gospel was supposed to make me happy. But for the past several years a sustained happiness has been elusive.”
I walked on the treadmill this morning to President Uchtdorf’s words of wisdom speaking to me from my desktop computer. He so wisely said,
So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
Ask my husband and he will tell you that I am constantly getting onto him for saying things like, “Well, when I’m done with my undergraduate degree I will be happier.” Or “When I’m only going to school and not working and going to school, I will be happier.” Or “When I get promoted I will be happier.” Or “When we are living in another country I will be happier.” I tell him all the time, “If you’re not happy now, you won’t be then!”
So this wasn’t completely new advice to me – I’ve been spouting it at my husband for years. But when President Uchtdorf added “the end of a challenging trial” my jaw dropped just a little bit.
Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.
So isn’t it better to see with our eyes and hearts even the small things we can be thankful for,rather than magnifying the negative in our current condition?
This can be a very hard thing to do, especially when the negative is literally a huge rain cloud covering us. I have tried to find the good things in each day, but the challenges and trials have seemed to outweigh even all the good I could find in the world.
But I am learning that the good doesn’t make the bad go away.
Just because there are beautiful things in life – new babies, rainbows, kind people, the gospel – it doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad things. People are still murdering and robbing and there are still tornadoes and floods and earthquakes.
So being happy isn’t so much about life being all sunshine and roses. It’s not about not feeling pain. It’s about deciding to be happy regardless of the pain. I guess I am still learning exactly how to do that.
I think a lot of my recent emotional roller coaster is due to pregnancy hormones. I am definitely aware that chemical imbalances can keep a person from choosing to be happy, and I think that in the past few months that has definitely been a contributing factor. But I am still not quite sure that is all. I am certain that there are things that I am supposed to be learning from this trial. Maybe focusing on those lessons and learning to be grateful for them will help me find happiness.
How do you let yourself be happy? Have you ever had times in your life when you didn’t feel able to make that choice? What was helpful for you?