Viewpoint: Rejoice in This Day

  from the Church News

  • 8 March 2013

“We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect.”—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

A few years ago the Washington Post conducted a telling social experiment about personal values, perception, and how everyday people prioritize their time and attention.

The newspaper enlisted the renowned violinist Joshua Bell to stand, incognito, at a conspicuous spot inside a Washington, D.C., metro station during a hectic period of the morning train commute. For 45 minutes, the musician performed a medley of highly technical Bach pieces on a violin worth millions of dollars. A hidden camera was rolling to capture the response of the thousands of commuters who rushed by a celebrity performer accustomed to showcasing his talent in front of thousands of adoring, ticket-buying fans.

Over the course of his impromptu concert, only a handful of people stopped for a second or two to watch this master at work. A few pulled a dollar bill or some loose change from their pockets and tossed their small tokens of appreciation into the musician’s violin case before hurrying to catch their respective trains. The vast majority of commuters flowed past the musician without as much as a turn of their heads. Instead, they focused eyes and minds—and, apparently, their ears—on the shifting path that led to the trains that would whoosh them to their places of business, their schools, or their desired destinations.

Anyone who watches the video of the Washington Post experiment likely asks, “Would I have stopped to enjoy an unscheduled moment of musical beauty?”

It’s hard to be too judgmental of the legions who appeared to not have noticed Mr. Bell’s metro station performance. Almost all of us lead busy, even hectic, lives. Our days (including our weekends) are often jammed and scheduled to the precise minute with appointments, deadlines, destinations, and duties. Yet each day also promises joyful, even quiet moments of beauty that can enrich the journeys of our lives. Evidence of the Lord’s divinely artistic hand can be found in every episode of mortality.

In an April 1996 general conference address, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve challenged members to daily discover the beauty that can flavor their lives.

“How long has it been since you watched the sun set? The departing rays kissing the clouds, trees, hills and lowlands good night, sometimes tranquilly, sometimes with exuberant bursts of color and form. What of the wonder of a cloudless night when the Lord unveils the marvels of His heavens—the twinkling stars, the moonlight rays—to ignite our imagination with His greatness and glory? How captivating to watch a seed planted on fertile soil germinate, gather strength, and send forth a tiny, seemingly insignificant sprout. Patiently it begins to grow and develop its own character led by the genetic code the Lord has provided to guide its development. With care it surely will become what it is destined to be: a lily, crowned with grace and beauty; a fragrant spearmint plant; a peach; an avocado; or a beautiful blossom with unique delicacy, hue, and fragrance.

“When last did you observe a tiny rosebud form? Each day it develops new and impressive character, more promise of beauty until it becomes a majestic rose.

“You are one of the noblest of God’s creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be.”

Elder Scott also taught that sadness, disappointment, and severe challenges are events in life—not life itself.

“Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that Their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy. Pondering Their doctrine will let you enjoy the beauties of this earth and enrich your relationship with others. It will lead you to the comforting, strengthening experiences that flow from prayer to Father in Heaven and the answers He gives in return” (“Finding Joy in Life”).

An avowed outdoorsman, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, cherishes experiencing the beauty of nature during bicycle rides with his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf. Sometimes President Uchtdorf thinks they should be a bit more competitive. He thinks they could get a better time if they pushed themselves a little more. Sister Uchtdorf, he said, only smiles at these suggestions, saying, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”

“How right she is!

“Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.

“Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?

“Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.

“Do we say our prayers with only the ‘amen’ or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.

“We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made...’ the Psalmist wrote, ‘... rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24).

“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” (“Of Regrets and Resolutions,” October 2012 general conference).