SALT LAKE CITY — Individuals are the architects of their own happiness, said Bishop Gérald Caussé, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during a Church Educational System devotional for young adults held in the Tabernacle on Sunday night.
Thousands of young adults filled the Tabernacle in addition to the many people throughout the world who watched via satellite and online.
"Your happiness depends a lot more on the principles that you choose to follow than the external circumstances of your life," said Bishop Caussé.
Life is full of uncertainty with surprises along the path, he said. It is through spiritual vision and basing one's life on proper principles that individuals can be happy, regardless of unexpected challenges.
"The uncertainty of life creates in some a lack of confidence, a fear of the future that manifests itself in different ways. … My message for you today is that there is a different path than ones of fear and doubt or self-indulgence – a path that brings peace, confidence and serenity in life. You can't control all of the circumstances of your life. Things, both good and challenging, will happen to you that you never expected. However, I declare that you have control of your own happiness. You are the architects of it."
Bishop Caussé shared three essential principles of happiness for individuals to follow:
First, recognizing personal worth.
"The universe is immense and infinite, yet, at the same time, each of us has unique worth, glorious and infinite in the eyes of our Creator," he said. "My physical presence is infinitesimal, yet my personal worth is of immeasurable importance to my Heavenly Father."
Knowing that God knows and loves each individual personally is like a light that illuminates one's life and gives it meaning, he said.
"Often the feeling we have of our personal worth is based on the love and interest we receive from those around us. Yet this love is sometimes lacking. The love of men is often imperfect, incomplete or selfish."
However, the love of God is perfect, complete and selfless, he said.
"Whoever I am, whether I have friends or not, whether I'm popular or not, and even if I feel rejected or persecuted by others, I have an absolute assurance that my Heavenly Father loves me. He knows my needs, he understands my concerns, he is anxious to bless me."
It is through seeking God – through studying, praying and asking – that individuals will be able to see the tangible signs of His existence, and know of His love for them.
Second, "become who you are."
"My dear friends, if you were to now receive a letter from your past, what would it say?" Bishop Caussé asked. "What would be contained in a letter you might have written to yourself on the day of your baptism when you were eight years old?"
"One of the great adventures of life is that of finding out who we really are, where we came from and then living consistently in harmony with our identity and the purpose of our existence," he said. "…Your happiness and ability to find balance in your life will occur as you find, recognize and accept your true identity as a child of our Heavenly Father, and then live in accordance with this knowledge."
Third, trust in God's promises.
"Our success and our happiness in life depend in great part on the faith and trust we have that the Lord will lead and guide us to fulfill our destiny," he said. "I have noticed that the men and women who accomplish remarkable feats in life often have great confidence in their future from the earliest years of their youth."
If individuals do their part God will do his, Bishop Caussé said. It is through obedience to God's laws that tangible promises come to pass.
"These promises do not ensure that everything that happens in our lives will be in accordance with our expectations and desires," he said. "Rather, God's promises guarantee that what happens to us will be in accordance with His will. Sometimes unexpected trials will present themselves that we must overcome; sometimes promised blessings will be long delayed. But the time will come when we will know that these trials and these delays were for our good and our eternal progression. What more can we ask?"
The greatest thing an individual can desire is to align their will to the will of the Lord and accept his agenda for their lives, Bishop Caussé taught.
"The circumstances of my life today are very different from what I had planned when I was your age," he said. "However, I don't believe I've ever been so happy. If one had given me, when I was 20 years old, the account of my life up to the present, I think I would have signed without any hesitation on the dotted line! …
"Work with all your heart to accomplish [your dreams and goals]. Then, let the Lord do the rest. He will lead you where you cannot lead yourself; he will make you into what you cannot make of yourself.
"At all times, accept his will. Be ready to go where he asks you to go, to do what he asks you to do. Become the man or woman he is nurturing you to become."