Happy people aren't that way by accident. Here are five habits that many happy people have.
1. Service. Serving others is a hallmark of happy people. Selfless service connects us to the powers of heaven. As one Book of Mormon prophet said, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17).
Who and what we serve are just as important as how we serve. The Savior said, "No man can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). A person loyal to conflicting causes is disloyal to both. Likewise, those who gorge on self-indulgence are too bloated for selfless service.
Serving others is a matter of the heart, not the calendar. Ironically, service yields its sweetest fruit from high-hanging branches when we reach up from our lowest points, especially the valley of our own troubles and trials. Lifting the burdens of others makes our own burdens easier to bear.
2. Love. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "Love is the true altitude of our discipleship" and "because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our church callings and in our livelihood" (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Love of God," Ensign, November, 2009).
The charitable heart is wide enough for everyone, including ourselves.
3. Gratitude. Whether ingratitude takes us far from the gospel or away from our own potential, gratitude can turn our hearts toward the Savior. President James E. Faust said, "A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness" (President James E. Faust, "Gratitude As A Saving Principle," Ensign, Dec. 1996).
Practice daily gratitude. "The Lord wants you to have a spirit of gratitude in all you do and say. Live with a spirit of thanksgiving and you will have greater happiness and satisfaction in life" ("Gratitude," For the Strength of Youth, Fulfilling Our Duty to God, 2001, pp.6-7).
In sunshine and storm, gratitude is a hallmark of the disciples of Jesus Christ. "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious" (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19).
4. Self-control. The more control from within, the less control from without. Happy is the person who is free from the chains of addiction or unbridled desire.
President Faust said, "The disciples of Christ receive a call to not only forsake the pursuit of worldly things but to carry the cross daily. To carry the cross means to follow His commandments. ... It also means self-mastery" (President James E. Faust, "Discipleship," Ensign, Nov. 2006).
5. Resilience. Is resilience a habit? It can be. As mortals, the question isn’t whether adversity will strike but when? Perhaps no mortal typifies resilience against adversity better than Job of the Old Testament. From The Book of Job, we learn of a righteous man who was stripped of his health, wealth and family, yet refused to curse God. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15). As a result of resilience through faith, Job was blessed with a family again, and his health and wealth were restored.
The habit of responding to adversity with a consistent, eternal perspective allows us to bounce back. When we recognize that we are beloved sons and daughters of God, we can endure anything because Jesus endured everything on our behalf.
Faith fuels resilience and is essential for peace of mind. Peace of mind and happiness go hand in hand.
William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School. He practices law, and teaches law and ethics. A former Phoenix stake president and current high councilor for the Queen Creek Arizona Chandler Heights Stake, he is active in Interfaith and is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
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