How often do you find yourself hoping for the next thing, wishing for your next blessing, thinking about the happiness in the future and wallowing in misery in the present? I lived this way for a long time, and slip back into it from time to time. I am in the sweetest joy and the purest happiness when I am grateful in this moment. Our society has a prescription for everything, including what is an "appropriate" response to any given situation. When something "bad" happens, we are "supposed" to be sad, angry, etc., when something "good" happens we are supposed to be happy, joyful, etc. In any given moment you have a choice wether to wallow or to stand. I am not suggesting that we pretend that things don't hurt, or that we are happy if we are not. I am submitting the idea that there is Good in every situation, and in seeking it we poise ourselves to find it and we have true peace even during the "hardship".
I recently had a breakdown and I remember sitting in my bathtub sobbing and praying. I felt peace come into me and I was still perplexed and experiencing some pain, but I was no longer suffering and could feel hope and a knowledge that this was not just happening to me, it was created for my benefit and there was good in it and to come. I was still in some pain, but in accepting the idea that there was good in it and good to come of it there was also peace. Somewhere along the line the principle of permission to cry, feel anger, express disappointment or grief, etc. got twisted into an obligation to feel those feelings, a pattern that "just is", in a way we program ourselves to feel unhappy if certain things come our way. Sometimes we are even critical of people who seem to be happy no matter what. As being created in the image of God, we are creators of our lives, including our feelings. The feelings we have and the way we react to things is a result of the thoughts we have dwelt on and the ideas we have nurtured.
There is a place in The Book of Mormon ( The Book of Mormon is another testament to Jesus Christ, a companion to the Bible) that says "we lived after the manner [or pattern] of happiness". This passage comes into my mind frequently and I have pondered it many times. I think, "What does that mean?", and "How can I implement that into my life?" I found the first step is gratitude in all things and at all times, the next is to live in the knowledge that all things are working together for my good, third is to look into the pain, fear, anger, etc. and find out what it is saying, (What is the good in it? What is it trying to tell me?).
Just because society says something is unfortunate, doesn't mean it is. Just because we can't see the reason, doesn't mean there isn't one. I experience this with my 6 year old frequently. He asks for the reason for things, and he doesn't always understand the answer. Sometimes he as very resistant. The answer is there, his mind is not yet prepared to receive it. I believe this is how it is for us. I was just reminded of something in my last post about Jesus in Gethsemane. There is no denying His suffering. I believe that one of the things that sustained Him is His complete acceptance and knowledge that His experience and His suffering was necessary and part of a divine plan for His well-being and the well-being of every child of God. I wonder if his knowledge of the results was dimmed by the pain and if HE also exercised Faith in those moments of agony, just as we get to. Either way, the record of His suffering and what He did reminds us that peace and fortitude can be found in turning our wills to God, that is truly what we do when we accept and embrace what is. This suggests committed inspired action instead of frantic floundering or inaction.
The Pattern I chose for living in happiness is: face what is, seek the good in it, ask what step to take, take the step and if your stumped ask for guidance again. When the guidance is to wait ("Be still and know that I am God") - that can be the hardest step to take if I feel I'm in crisis. When the answer is to wait I can wait patiently and hopefully, or I can run around in a panic taking actions and the outcome and timing is the same either way, but waiting in hope and patience is living happily. Embracing and internalizing the belief that all things are working together for my good releases me from the bondage of feeling I'm in a crisis and creates space for me to be hopeful and patient.
I invite you to try this: Think of the worste thing that ever happened to you. Find what good actually came out of it. For me, this might be being molested as a young girl, or having my father gone for long periods of time for his work, maybe a combination of the two. Yet in turning to God through Jesus Christ these two facts about my life became tremendous vehicles for learning how to draw on the powers of Heaven through the light of Christ to find healing, strength, happiness, direction, peace, comfort and certainty. I am grateful for a Loving God who could have prevented all the pain and heartache, but allowed me the experiences He knew I needed to learn who I really am, who I am not and where my value, strength and worth truly come from.
Live Happy Now.
Liz King Bradley