Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I try my best to be happy, but no matter what I do, I feel overwhelmingly sad all the time. Is there anything I can do to feel better?

New Era

  • If you feel “overwhelmingly sad all the time,” please, tell your parents or your bishop or your youth leaders.

  • Don’t forget to use the power of prayer.

  • Search the scriptures and the words of the prophets.

  • Reread and study your patriarchal blessing.

  • Give service; helping other people is a great way to put your own difficulties in perspective.

  • Never underestimate the power of attitude.

Occasional sadness is normal. We all go through trials in our lives that cause sadness. But you shouldn’t constantly feel depressed. If you “feel overwhelmingly sad all the time,” please, tell your parents or your bishop or your youth leaders what you are feeling. You may have a medical condition that requires professional help.

The purpose of our existence is to attain true joy and happiness. “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25). The plan of salvation is often referred to as the plan of happiness. However, we are here to be tested. And since there is opposition in all things, all of us will experience sadness.

God wants us to be happy. But Satan is working to make our lives miserable. President Ezra Taft Benson explained that Satan’s tools for fighting the plan of happiness are “despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression” (Ensign, Nov. 1974, 65).

Unhappiness has many causes, including unworthiness. This doesn’t mean that if you are unhappy you must have sinned. But if sin is the source of your sadness, you should discuss with your bishop how to repent.

Use the power of prayer. When Jesus was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for comfort. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Ps. 55:22). You can find comfort and happiness by communicating with God and asking for help with your trials. There is a reason we call the Holy Ghost the Comforter.

Search the scriptures and the words of our current prophets. The words of President Gordon B. Hinckley in “The Spirit of Optimism,” in the July 2001 New Era, may lift you up. If you have received your patriarchal blessing, reread and study it to gain a clearer understanding of the Lord’s love for you and of your divine potential.

Serve those in need. Helping other people overcome their problems is a great way to put your own difficulties in perspective. Service can help you feel the happiness that comes when striving to do what Christ would do.

Never underestimate the power of attitude. President Hinckley’s optimism should be an example to all of us, even in times of sadness. “There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you” (Ensign, Apr. 1986, 4–5).

Perhaps there is irony in making a list of things we can do to overcome sadness when being overwhelmed by so many responsibilities may be what brought on the feelings of sadness in the first place. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said when he feels inadequate, frustrated, or depressed, he thinks of Mosiah 4:27: “It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (see Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75). The Lord knows our limits, and we won’t be required to do more than we are able.

Elder Richard G. Scott

“When you are worthy, a challenge becomes a contribution to growth, not a barrier to it. Yet … no matter how you begin, those solutions will never provide a complete answer. The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and obedience to His commandments” (Ensign, May 1994, 9). —Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve

Readers

I find that I am most unhappy when I am idle. Along with daily prayer and scripture study, I feel that continually setting goals and trying to be a better person can make me feel that there is more meaning and happiness in my life. It’s nice to know that I’ve worked hard, not only for myself, but for the benefit of others.

Shelly Nebeker, 17 Eagle River, Alaska

The only way to get rid of the sadness is through the help and companionship of the Lord. If you are feeling sad, you need to pray to Heavenly Father for help and guidance and ask Him how to overcome your trial. It is also essential to tell a parent or trusted adult about your sadness. I have gone through such an experience, and it will not go away without help from our Heavenly Father and from a parent or an adult.

Ashley Chadwick, 13 Yuma, Arizona

Listening to uplifting music, losing yourself in serving others, and prayer are three great ways to overcome sadness. Having a strong relationship with Heavenly Father is the key to personal happiness.

Dylan Roberts, 18 Lewiston, Idaho

About four years ago I became incredibly sad. It seemed as though I were falling into a black, bottomless pit with no way out. My advice to anyone who continually feels overwhelmingly sad, no matter what they do, is to seek professional help immediately.

Name Withheld California

You might try to ask your father, bishop, or someone who has the priesthood to give you a special blessing.

Lauren Pineda, 12 Kaysville, Utah

[photo] Photography by John Luke. Posed by model