Lehi, explaining to his son Jacob the circumstances under which man came into mortality and the plan for his eternal progression, said:
“… all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:24–25.)
Webster defines joy as “1. The emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; … gladness; delight. 2. State of happiness; … bliss. … 3. That which causes … happiness.” He says that happiness is “a state of well-being.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith defined happiness as “the object and design of our existence; and [it] will be the end thereof,” he continued, “if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 255–56.)
That happiness does not necessarily come with economic success is suggested by the Savior’s statement, “… a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15.)
Of course, temporal necessities are essential to continued existence. Sufficient of this world’s goods are indispensable to the maintenance of life. The Lord himself said that we cannot be equal in spiritual things unless we are equal in temporal things. When we can fully live the Lord’s plan we shall be equal in temporal things; but that isn’t the whole of happiness.
Men cannot be made truly happy by having something conferred upon them from the outside. The scriptures tell of repeated healings from physical disorders performed by the Savior during his ministry. These healings resulted in relief from physical pain and illness but did not necessarily bring real joy and happiness.
Real joy and happiness consists of being healed spiritually. It comes from inside. If you will read in the Book of Mormon the first four verses in the fourth chapter of Mosiah, you will learn of a multitude of people, to whom King Benjamin had been speaking, who were brought by the power of the Spirit to a realization of their transgressions. So concerned were they about their sins that they cried out unto the Lord:
They then received forgiveness because of their faith in Christ and their repentance: their hearts were filled with joy because their sins were forgiven, and they had peace of mind because they were spiritually healed.
Jesus Christ, our Savior, has the power to heal our spirits. Every person’s spirit is ill when it is burdened with sin. No son or daughter of God is ever completely happy until his spirit is healed by the power of the Spirit of God. When one receives forgiveness, his spirit is healed and he has peace of conscience. Thereafter his happiness increases as he strives to perfect himself by inculcating into his life the attributes of charity as listed by Mormon in the seventh chapter of Moroni: kindness, long suffering, humility, and love. Finally, one develops within himself that charity which Mormon defines as the pure love of Christ. This is the path to true happiness, the path by which one comes to be like our Father in heaven.
The joy and happiness which, according to Lehi, men were created to have is not to be experienced in this life only. If they meet the conditions upon which it is promised, they are to have joy and happiness here and now, during their sojourn as disembodied spirits awaiting resurrection, and thereafter throughout all eternity.
“… learn,” said the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith, “that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” (D&C 59:23.)
The scriptures are clear as to the state of happiness or misery of disembodied spirits. In the revelation that the Prophet Joseph speaks of as “embracing the law of the Church,” the Lord says:
“Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.
“And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them;
“And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.” (D&C 42:45–47.)
Alma thus instructed his son, Corianton:
“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil … , shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity. …” (Alma 40:11–13.)
Jacob, in his great sermon recorded in the ninth chapter of 2 Nephi, says:
“… all men … [when] they have become immortal … must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel” and be judged. Then shall “the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Ne. 9:15, 18. Italics added.)
Lehi spoke truly when he said, “… men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:25.) We know that the Lord desires men to be happy because he said to Moses, “… this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) We also know that Alma spoke truly when he said to his son Corianton, “… wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10.) The issue is squarely up to us.
“… men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediation of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Ne. 2:27.)
“Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death [misery] or the way of eternal life [joy and happiness].” (2 Ne. 10:23.)