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Hope through the atonement can lead to happinessHope and Happiness can be elusive.  We want to be happy, and positive, and upbeat; but there are definitely times when it is challenging.

Life can get hard. It gets discouraging. And it can happen rather easily.

Neal A Maxwell said

“Doubt and despair, like dandelions, need little encouragement in order to sprout and spread.”

This month I’ve been discussing ways to bring more happiness into our lives. But sometimes it takes more than just trying to be happy.  Sometimes learning to use the atonement of Christ in our lives is what it takes to bring back hope and happiness.

What is hope and why is it so important to have a happy life?

Neal A Maxwell also taught that

“Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug.  Hope is retained through the gift of the Holy Ghost and faith in Christ

Hope in a bright future helps us to be brave enough to keep going when times seem dark.

Hope in the atonement can lead us to repentance, leaving the past behind and working to become better people every day.

Hope in God’s love helps us to be patient, while we wait for God’s timing to bring us answers we seek.

Hope requires faith, and can bring us to a place of peace and happiness.

When we learn to exercise hope through the atonement in our lives, it becomes much easier to bounce back from the discouragements and difficulties that will inevitably pop up in our lives.

Everyone experiences difficulties. But we don’t have to let them be the whole story in our lives. Turn to the Lord. Learn about Him and the plans that He has for your life.

Enjoy this little video and remember that God’s blessings are all around us to bring up happiness, if we will exercise faith and hope in Him, and allow the atonement to work its magic in our lives.

 

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How can faith make you happy

Many years ago I had a therapist tell me to make “Faith Cards” to carry with me at all times, to help me through my rough spots.

I was in the middle of some dark and difficult times, and experiencing related depression, and I didn’t see how “faith” had anything to do with helping me survive this trial I was going through.

I no longer had faith in the people, because some important people had let me down.  I certainly didn’t have faith that everything would turn out the way I expected it should, because it didn’t.

I just didn’t have any idea how having faith would help me to handle my current situation any better.

Well, after several therapy sessions, I began to learn more of what she was talking about.  The most important faith that we can have is faith in God.

Faith that He knows each of us individually.

Faith that He knows about the bad things that happen to us, before they happen, and He has a plan for our lives.

Faith that He can send us messages to help along the way, through scriptures, earnest prayer, and good people sent into our lives to help.

So back to “Faith Cards.”  Faith cards are small cards (I created mine on printable business cards) that fit into a purse or wallet, so that the can be pulled out and used to lift the spirits any time it is needed.  The words on the faith cards could be scriptures, quotes, words to a hymn or inspirational song.  Anything that helps to remind me in a hard moment that God is watching over and He is in charge.

Here are a few examples of quotes that I used.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:23  Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

Ether 12:27 … if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

2 Nephi 32:3 … feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

From the Hymn “Be Still My Soul”   Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past.

If you decide to make faith cards, they will be very personal to you, and have quotes that speak to your own soul.

2 Nephi 2:25 teaches us that “men are, that they might have joy.”

Do we believe that men are created to have joy?  The scripture says that men are that they “might” have joy.  It is still a choice, and it doesn’t say that we will live in a constant state of joy, but we might have some beautiful moments of joy throughout our lives.

Life really is meant to be enjoyed.  Happiness can be found and is even sweeter after the enduring of trials. Having faith that God is at the helm can be just what is needed to carry on and find the sweet happy moments that God has placed in our lives for us to discover.

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Can I choose to be happy

According to Mister Groundhog, it is going to be an early spring.  I don’t know about where you live, but the amount of sunshine I have seen in the past several weeks has left me feeling very “springy.”

There is just something about spending time in the warm sun that is naturally energizing.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there is scientific proof that spending time in the sun increases our overall happiness.

I think it is safe to say that it is a universal goal of most people to be happy, but it’s probably not something that we write down and concentrate on as a goal.

I think it’s more likely that our goals are…

“When I lose 10 pounds, then I’ll be happy”

“When I get a new job, then I’ll be happy”

“When we buy a new house, then I’ll be happy”

You get the picture.  We all want to be happy, but it is easy to get caught up in the belief that happiness will come when our circumstances change.  But once they do change, how long does the new happiness last? Not long on its own.  Research done at the University of California Riverside found these statistics around happiness.

What determines happiness

Our circumstances can be a good excuse for not experiencing happiness, but the stats show otherwise.  If only 10 percent of our happiness is determined by our circumstances, then it can be really dangerous to put our happiness on hold, while waiting for our circumstances to change.

Of course, a loss in life, such as death, divorce, or loss of a job or any important relationship can cause a definite degree of sadness.  However, that sadness does not have to be a permanent state.  It can be hard to see happiness during a time of loss, and it is crucial to be honest with those sad feelings as they come. However, it is just as important to realize that although we have to recognize our own negative feelings, we don’t have to set up camp and live in that state.

Facing a loss with the support of understanding friends and family can be healing and help bring stability and an overall sense of well-being during hard times, allowing happiness to find a pathway back into daily life.

After my divorce there were some difficult, frustrating and, yes, some sad times.  And even though life had thrown me in an unanticipated position, I chose to work hard for a chance to maintain a healthy happy life.  I accepted the sad times as they came and indulged myself in a couple of cry fests, but overall I would say that I was mostly happy.

Then a few years later when I got engaged to a new man, a good friend said “Oh, I’m so glad to see that you’re happy.”

I almost got a little defensive.  My instant thought was “Who says I wasn’t happy on my own.  Why do I have to have a fiancé or husband to be happy?  I can be perfectly happy all by myself, thank you very much!!”

Of course, I didn’t actually say those things.  I know she didn’t mean any harm.  She was being genuine and sweet.  In fact I might have said the same thing to someone else in similar circumstances.

I suppose I was just a little surprised by my own knee-jerk reaction to her expression of joy for me.

Do I need someone else’s approval before I can be happy?  Do I need to have all of my “ducks in a row” at all times to be content with my life?

I guess I have proven to myself over some difficult years, that “no, I don’t” have to have perfect circumstances in order to be happy.

There have certainly been times when I have been stressed or excited about some upcoming event. I recognize that sense of anxiety in my body as a sign that the stress is building up. There is always something around the corner that demands my attention. Sometimes it’s something fun. Sometimes it’s something busy but necessary. But wherever it comes from, it can cause stress and anxiety. What I have learned to do as those stressors begin to take a toll on my mind and body, is to stop… analyze how I am at that exact moment, and say to myself.

Right now, in this moment, I am happy”

And just as I say it, I begin to feel it.

Being afraid for the future doesn’t have to affect my ability to be happy right now.

Preparing for something fun that will happen in the future doesn’t mean I can’t also be happy right now.

Working hard and anticipating something stressful that I need to give attention to doesn’t mean I can’t stop for a moment, take a breath, and be happy in just this one quiet moment.

For me the time that I most often remind myself that “Right now, I am happy” is as I’m pulling into my garage.  It is a routine moment.  At that moment I don’t have to be figuring anything out, or calculating my budget, or planning out dinner.  For that one moment I recognize that I can choose to be happy.

I smile to myself as I’m climbing out of my car.

I know that life is good.

I can choose to be happy in this moment and let that carry over into the rest of my life.

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