“Happiness,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “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 of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 255–56.)
Alma, instructing his wayward son Corianton, told him that “wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10.)
Happiness depends upon possession of the moral virtues possessed and taught by Jesus. It cannot be conferred upon a person by another. It cannot be bought, purchased, or stolen. It can be won only by righteous living.
Jesus gave the sure formula for obtaining happiness when he said:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30.)
As I have thought about the relationship of the teachings of Jesus to happiness, I have concluded that one’s conformance or nonconformance to them affects one’s happiness whether he accepts, rejects, or acts in ignorance of them. Consider, for example, the Ten Commandments, one by one, as they are recorded in the 20th chapter of Exodus:
(1) “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3.)
(2) “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” (Ex. 20:4.)
(3) “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7.)
(4) “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8.)
(5) “Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Ex. 20: 12.)
(6) “Thou shalt not kill.” (Ex. 20:13.)
(7) “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14.)
(8) “Thou shalt not steal.” (Ex. 20:15.)
(9) “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Ex. 20:16)
(10) “Thou shalt not covet.” (Ex. 20:17.)
I repeat that it seems to me that the happiness of every person who acts contrary to any one of these or any other teaching of Jesus, whether he knows or does not know it is a teaching of Christ, is diminished; and likewise, that the happiness of everyone who obeys such teaching is increased thereby.
It follows, dear reader, that to be happy we must know and conform with the teachings of Jesus.
As the poem says, you’ve got to be straight to be happy.
To Be Happy
You’ve got to be straight to be happy,
You’ve got to be square as a die.
Through wrong may come infinite pleasures,
But they fade, and they fly.
You’ve got to take life at its noblest
If you want to have gladness that counts,
Want the verve and the zeal of the spirit
That lifts you along as it mounts.
And, Oh! how it pays out of goodness
To draw for each day as we strive
Some measures of clean, healthy gladness,
In our work, and for being alive!
You’ve got to be true to be happy,
Be true to yourself over all,
And be blind to the lure of evil,
And deaf to its powerful call.
To set up high standards and keep them,
With the records so straight and so true,
For nothing can ever condemn them,
If that is your creed, it will do.
You’ve got to be clean to be happy,
You’ve got to be steadfast and pure
If you want what fife gives that is earnest,
That will help, and will hold, and endure.