People tell me the gospel makes us happy. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, but I’m sometimes unhappy. Why?
Many readers who responded to the question testified that happiness does not come automatically to a person simply by being a member of the Church. It comes from the active exercise of faith—such as being obedient to the commandments, studying the scriptures, praying regularly, and being of service to others.
In her response, Cynthia Beros Ecao, University Hills Ward, Kalcoocan Philippines Stake, included Joseph Smith’s statement: “God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all his creatures” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith , 256).
The Prophet Joseph Smith also said: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, 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, 255–56).
But this great plan of happiness (see Alma 42:8) involves hardship and sorrow. Edward N. Reynoso of the Puerto Plata District, Dominican Republic Santiago Mission, observed that “faithfully keeping the commandments does not mean our lives will be free of trials or afflictions. Lehi told us that trials are a necessary part of our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. Overcoming them with the help of the Lord strengthens our faith and testimony.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not always keep you from sorrow, but it helps you rise above it. Hindsight will reveal that the gospel helped you endure your trials and that you even gained strength as you stayed close to the Lord during those difficult times. Having faith, as the gospel encourages us to do, means that you put your trust fully in Jesus Christ no matter what the situation (see Prov. 3:5).
Would it surprise you to learn that sometimes your state of mind determines whether you are happy or not? An attitude of gratitude for blessings already given can help you weather many of the storms life sends your way (see Alma 26:6–8, 16). Consider Alma’s advice and promise to his son Helaman:
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37).
If something that you have the power to change is making you unhappy, then set about changing it. But don’t be deceived. If you give up gospel standards in order to become more popular with some of your friends, you will not be happy. You need to understand and work toward the things that will make you truly and eternally happy. Understanding, peace, and joy come with a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not only a guide for the eternities but also a guide for our day-to-day lives.
Even though I was baptized, I was not happy. It was six years after my baptism before I realized that I was not happy because I did not have a testimony of my own. As I began to exercise more faith in the Lord, I learned to love him. My patriarchal blessing also helped bring about changes in my life that brought me the happiness I had been missing.
Trust in the Lord, and get your own testimony. Keep the commandments. If you do, you will see your life change for the better.
Silvia Vinueza, Comité del Pueblo Ward, Quito Ecuador Colón Stake
Learning gospel principles as we would a poem—that is, committing to memory only—is merely believing in Christ. However, understanding the true purposes and importance of the gospel brings about change in our lives. Then the gospel becomes part of our daily living and through sacrifice, charity, and humility we can know true happiness.
Stanislao Tariffa, Castellammare di Stabia Branch, Italy Rome Mission
As I have grown older, I have come to realize that happiness does not continually “give” itself to people. Happiness depends upon one’s own thoughts and efforts. We need to ask ourselves how diligently we are studying the scriptures and praying for the help we need.
Song, Seon Ae, Pusan On Cheon Ward, Pusan Korea Stake
How can a person who has the teachings of Jesus Christ in his or her life not be a happy person? Think of all your blessings: You have friends. You have leaders who love you. You have the promise of an eternal family. You have the love of the Savior, who gave his life so that your sins could be remitted on condition of repentance.
You are a member of the Lord’s church led by a prophet, seer, and revelator. And you have access to the scriptures and to Church publications, which can help bring the Holy Ghost into your life.
Juliana Lavieri, Freguesia Jacare Paguá Ward, Rio de Janeiro Brazil Madureira Stake
From my own experience, I know that the turmoil of childhood and the process of growing up can affect one’s happiness. But I have also found that happiness does not depend on the circumstances around us. It comes from within as we develop faith in Jesus Christ. Understanding and accepting that fact can take time.
Meanwhile, it is important to be good to others and to yourself.
Marita Korpela, Jyväskylä Ward, Tampere Finland Stake
Here in the mission field, I have learned to do many things on my own initiative and not to wait for someone to tell me what to do. We need to be like the Savior, who volunteered to come to earth and to pay for our sins. Although he suffered greatly, he was happy because he was doing the will of his Father.
Elder Jorge Guevara, Las Delicias Ward, Sonsonate El Salvador Stake
Some time after becoming a member of the Church, I began to feel dissatisfied; I no longer felt happy in the gospel. But scripture study and prayer helped me overcome such feelings. Now I love to share the gospel with others because it makes me happy to do so.
Melinda R. Caballero, Singapore Third Branch, Singapore Singapore Stake
In order to be happy, you must search the scriptures diligently (see Alma 17:2). Remember, it isn’t what we receive that enriches our lives, it is what we give.
Charles Rambolarson, Antananarivo [Madagascar] Second Branch, South Africa Durban Mission
As you grow in the gospel, you will learn “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12). Eventually, you will come to understand that the only way to happiness is to know Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. You can be heir to all they possess if you keep the commandments and ordinances of the gospel.
Ana María Gordillo de Abadillo, Santa Marta Ward, Guatemala City Guatemala Florida Stake
Living the principles of the gospel is like eating a balanced diet to keep ourselves physically healthy. By doing all of the things Heavenly Father would have us do, we will stay spiritually healthy and happy.
Juliet A. Molleno, Bayan Branch, Philippines San Pablo Mission
I was baptized when I was ten years old. For many years I did not feel the true happiness that the gospel promises. As time passed, I came to understand that I had never developed the necessary faith to be happy. I had not achieved the necessary spiritual maturity to realize how important the things of the Lord are.
Now I realize that the happiest moments of my life are when my life is focused on the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paola Matilde Flores, Independencia Branch, Salta Argentina Stake
Being happy is an ongoing process. It is not a state of stagnation. It depends on how we keep the commandments and whether we are moving toward the goal of eternal life.
Kelly Carvalho Lopes, Pampulha Ward, Belo Horizonte Brazil West Stake
When I first learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I did everything I was supposed to do. Since then I have learned to do what the Lord expects of me because I want to.
To be happy, you need to live the commandments and the principles of the gospel not only because you should, but also because you want to.
Anneliese Gossenreiter, Linz Branch, Austria Vienna Mission