How I Learned to Be Happy

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How I Learned to Be Happy

“The gospel fills my life with such joy!” the young woman at the pulpit in my student ward exclaimed. I could tell it was true, but my own heart was heavy. I had always been a member of the Church, and I believed in the gospel with all my heart. I followed its principles faithfully. But I didn’t feel that there was any true joy in my life, only the never-ending demands of school, Church callings, friends, and family. Why couldn’t I feel the way the girl at the pulpit did?

The question soon began to consume my thoughts. The familiar Book of Mormon scripture echoed in my head: “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). I became determined to find an answer.

“Father in Heaven,” I prayed late one night, “please, oh please. I’m not happy, and I’m not sure why. Where can I find the joy that prophets and others speak of?”

I crossed campus the next day, sure that now I would get the answer to my prayers. Rain had been falling for three days, filling the flower beds and spilling down the sidewalks. As I plodded through the puddles, I peered into the faces of the other students and wondered if they were truly happy.

The day passed as usual, and I was still discouraged. I sat doing homework, more downhearted than ever.

The shrill ring of the telephone shattered the silence of my self-pity.

“Catherine!” It was my dad’s cheery voice. “How are you?”

“Hi, Dad,” I said. “I’m okay.”

“Just okay?” he asked.

Soon I had told him the whole problem. Finally, I asked, “Where can I find true joy?”

He was silent for a moment, thinking.

“When I was in Germany on a mission,” he said slowly, “the sun sometimes shone for only a few hours a day. Depressing darkness would fill the rest of our waking hours. I struggled with the gloominess for some time before I learned that if I wanted to have sunshine, I had to carry it with me in my heart.”

I think back on this conversation with my dad regularly. My answer came then. Joy is something inside a person. It comes from living the gospel, being grateful for the opportunity to do so, and then remembering to simply be happy about it.

[photo] Photo illustration by Fay Andrus, posed by model