For the past couple of weeks I have been speaking with a friend who is trying to grasp this concept: “Keeping the commandments and laws of God, brings true happiness and eternal freedom.”
I remember a time in my young teen years when I felt that my parents just always wanted to say no. Why? I now understand that through obedience to God’s laws, though at times they felt like restrictions, they were really opportunities for self-mastery, the outcome of which allowed me freedom and happiness. Let me share an example.
I was taught by my parents in my youth that tobacco and drugs were harmful to my mind, and my body and that I should always avoid them. I did avoid them, and because of that my mind and body are healthy and I do not experience cravings, have addictions, or desire to use them. There is no chance of those substances affecting or controlling my life because I obeyed the principle upon which the blessing was predicated. This created happiness and freedom for me in the past, present and future. This same principle can be applied in many instances.
As we seek to be happy, we should remember that the only way to real happiness is to live the teachings of Christ. We will find peaceful and eternal happiness as we strive to keep the commandments, pray for strength, repent of our sins, participate in wholesome activities, and give meaningful service.
“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.” (Book of Mormon, Alma 41:10.)
Happiness depends upon possession of the moral virtues possessed and taught by Jesus. It cannot be conferred upon one person by another. It cannot be bought, purchased, or stolen. It can be won only by righteous living.
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 in happiness.
It follows, dear reader, that to be happy we must know and conform with the teachings of Jesus. I invite you to pray to know where you can improve in your diligence to follow the commandments of God and to create more happiness for yourself. For you are in charge of your happiness!
In love and faith,