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The Happiness Mindset

Natasha Brown

January 11, 2024

The Happiness Mindset

“I’ll be happy!” my 2 year old little sister sobbed as she came out of her room. She had been throwing a tantrum and had been taken to her room and told she could come out when she was ready to be happy. We laugh at the irony now, and yet I relate to that little two year old sometimes. I want so desperately to be happy, and sometimes that means I try to claim my happiness amidst some pretty big, stormy emotions. The difference between that two year old and I, is that I’ve actually gotten pretty good at it! I have learned that happiness can co-exist with “all the things”. That life doesn’t have to cancel out my happiness just because it seems at odds with it. I have learned to live in the “and”…. To be at peace in the eye of the storm. 

I love the example of a scriptural prophet Nephi. In one sentence he shares how great his grief is, “O wretched man that I am!” followed shortly after with, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted….He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” (2 Nephi 4:17-21) Nephi is living in the “and”. He is experiencing both great sorrow and great love, joy, and hope. This foundation of happiness and joy, is a foundation in Jesus Christ. When we have experienced the healing and the peace that he offers, happiness is a natural consequence. And like Nephi, we can stand still in the eye of the storm and not be tossed about in it. 

I heard someone share once that perhaps they should just do whatever they want and trust that the atonement will make up the difference. I am reminded though that “wickedness never was happiness”. Just as there is grace for our mistakes, there are also laws that govern happiness. “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world upon which all blessings are predicated– And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130: 20-21) Learning these laws and how to gain access and claim to the blessings associated with them is an important step. Learning and living by these laws is what I call principle based behavior. 

Engaging in principle based behavior requires an understanding of correct principles, and a commitment to 100% accountability for our behavior. The opposite of this is reaction based behavior, which is when we do things in reflexive reaction to others (generally out of reflexive self-protection) or because we desire a certain reaction from others. When we are clear about who we are and who we desire to be, apply the tools we need to be that person, and act in accordance with those principles, our relationship with ourselves improves. Our heart can be at peace and we find happiness. 

This is the case because true happiness exists in the context of relationships. Relationship with God, with ourselves, and with those that are important to us. Working to maintain those relationships means committing to self awareness, recognizing that all of life is a mirror. If I can see my triggers as opportunities to see myself more clearly and seek healing, I can move forward with greater peace.   

Once we have felt that happiness, we have to remain intentional or it may slip away. How often do the scriptures invite us to “remember”? I am notorious for doing an overwhelm, getting back into center, and then exclaiming “Why can’t I remember and be here all the time!?” As frustrating as the human experience may be, when I learn to embrace it and practice building my muscle memory of tools that support me in being who I want to be, I can lean into happiness. This means that even if I’m not happy, I can hold space: trusting that I know the path back to joy. That I am confident in my toolbox and resources. Trusting that as I look at the path I’ve walked, the scatter plot of the ups and downs, the general trend is forward and up. This knowledge and trust allows me to connect with happiness, even in a storm, just like my two year old sister. “I am happy!”

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