Choose Happiness, Lift Others, Seventy Says at BYU Devotional

Contributed By Noelle Baldwin, Church News contributor


Elder Larry R. Lawrence, a General Authority Seventy, speaks about happiness during a BYU devotional on March 8, 2016.  Photo by Meagan Larsen, BYU.

Article Highlights

  • Use your agency to choose happiness.
  • Thank the Lord in all things. Gratitude leads to joy.
  • Don't pass up chances to express sincere praise to those around you.

“Praise is a precious gift that costs the giver nothing. So if you see something, say something.” —Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy

Happiness is a choice, Elder Larry R. Lawrence, a General Authority Seventy, told Brigham Young University students at a devotional on March 8. “Happiness is the purpose of our existence,” he said. “I am convinced that more than anything else, our Heavenly Father wants His children to be happy.”

At the devotional held in the Marriott Center on BYU’s Provo campus, Elder Lawrence—who was joined on the stand by his wife, Sister Laurel Stott Lawrence—shared advice with students that can help lead them to greater joy.

The secret to inner happiness is righteous living, but “smiling more often, expressing gratitude, looking for and praising the good in others, welcoming the newcomer, and reaching out to those who need a friend,” said Elder Lawrence, are simple ways to expand one’s own happiness as well as the happiness of others.

Elder Lawrence said that being grateful leads to happiness and it is essential to “thank the Lord in all things,” because when one looks close enough, there is always something to be grateful for.

It is also important to thank our friends and family. “We often take for granted the very people who most deserve our gratitude. Let us not wait until it is too late for us to express gratitude,” said Elder Lawrence, quoting President Thomas S. Monson’s October 2010 general conference address “The Divine Gift of Gratitude.”

“Have you ever had a rush of gratitude come over you? … Have you experienced the happiness that comes from saying ‘Thank you’ and feeling it with your whole heart?” asked Elder Lawrence as he prompted students to act on their gratitude before it’s too late. Elder Lawrence shared his regret for not thanking his father for coaching his sports teams, teaching him how to read, or showing him the value of work and family before he passed away.

Elder Lawrence encouraged students to thank their parents and families for the small, everyday acts that they are the recipients of.

“An excellent way to express gratitude,” said Elder Lawrence, “is by giving sincere praise. Praise lifts both the giver and the receiver.”

Students were reminded to follow the Savior’s perfect example. During His mortal ministry, Christ lifted those around Him. Elder Lawrence specifically listed the examples of Nathaniel, who became one of the Twelve Apostles, and John the Baptist. The Savior praised both men for their strong faith and character. “If we truly want to emulate the Lord, we need to be looking for the good in others and then voicing it,” said Elder Lawrence. “Praise is a precious gift that costs the giver nothing. So if you see something, say something.”

Even when Christ was arrested in Gethsemane and then when He suffered on the cross, He turned outward, not inward, Elder Lawrence noted. After one of the guards who had come to arrest Christ had his ear severed by Peter, Christ reached out and healed the man. As Christ was dying on the cross, He “used up His last bit of strength to arrange a home for Mary, asking John to care for her after He was gone,” Elder Lawrence said. “Our Lord showed more concern for His beloved mother than for His own suffering.”

Elder Lawrence continued, “Someday we will meet Jesus and feel His profound love for us,” but until that day there is much to learn. There are going to be days that are smooth and some that are rough, but, Elder Lawrence reminded students, the Lord has commanded, “Be of good cheer.” When individuals are centered on themselves instead of others, they “just plain choose to be grumpy.”

The gift of the Holy Ghost can help members express kindness, Elder Lawrence said. “Latter-day Saints who are guided by the Spirit should be the most congenial people on earth.”

Christ taught that His disciples will be known, “if [they] have love one to another” (John 13:35).

Elder Lawrence warned that Satan will use his wedge of discouragement that “can inflict major damage on the faithful.” Satan will concentrate all of his tools and efforts on bringing down the Latter-day Saints. “Discouragement works … even when nothing else will. It can bring misery to the most conscientious souls—those that are striving to keep the commandments,” said Elder Lawrence. Satan attacks the self-esteem of the faithful and those who are trying to repent, in an attempt to make their attention focus on themselves instead of on others. Elder Lawrence told students not to forget that Satan wants everyone to be as miserable as he is, but Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want everyone to receive a fulness of joy and to be as happy as They are. For this reason, said Elder Lawrence, “Church members must continually lift and encourage each other.”

Elder Lawrence invited students to use their agency to choose happiness. “Jesus votes for us, Satan votes against us, and we cast the deciding vote,” Elder Lawrence said.

Elder Larry R. Lawrence, a General Authority Seventy, speaks about happiness during a BYU devotional on March 8, 2016. Photo by Meagan Larsen, BYU.

The BYU Men's Chorus performs at a BYU devotional held on March 8, 2016, in the Marriott Center. Photo by Meagan Larsen, BYU.

Students gather for a devotional at BYU's Marriott Center on March 8, 2016. Photo by Meagan Larsen, BYU.