I have been accused of not knowing what makes people happy. I have been told that happiness is relative and what makes one person happy doesn’t necessarily make another happy. I absolutely believe that true happiness only comes through living the gospel and keeping the commandments. Over the course of my life (a very long one according to my children), I’ve learned a simple truth: keeping the commandments makes me happy and breaking the commandments makes me sad. I’ve experimented enough to know this is true.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that happiness is relative. After all, Satan is the great imitator and perhaps he can mimic happiness so effectively that it’s difficult to discern that some “happy” feelings are actually coming from Satan in his attempt to mislead us.
How do we know if we’re truly happy or merely lulled into thinking so? Perhaps, we need to consider our happiness as it relates to peace. In 1 Nephi 20:22 it says, “ . . . there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” I think that sums it up.
Peace cannot come to those who are breaking the commandments. Maybe they are “happy” in their own definition of the term, but peace escapes those who choose to defy God and his laws.
A difference exists between satisfaction/pleasure/enjoyment and joy/peace. Imagine an enormous hot fudge sundae. Several of your favorite ice cream scoops swim in decadent hot fudge topped with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. As each bite glides across your tongue and slides down your throat your pleasure and enjoyment increase.
Now compare that to walking into the temple. As soon as you enter the front door, you can feel the peace. Sitting in the celestial room, you feel wrapped in love. Joy washes over you like a gentle wave while a calm that’s hard to duplicate outside of the temple settles on you. Do you feel the same way you did when you ate the hot fudge sundae?
One brings you pleasure and satisfaction, both superficial feelings. The other brings you a deep, soul-satisfying, spirit-quenching peace—a feeling that Satan cannot duplicate.
I’ve been asked if I’m always happy. Truthfully, I’ve experienced trials in my life, as has everyone. And, yes, I felt sadness when my sister-in-law passed away from cancer last year. However, through all the trials, I have still felt peace. I have felt that though the grief was immeasurable at times I’d get through it because the peace of the gospel never left me.
So, perhaps, I am wrong in my assessment of what determines happiness, but I am certain I’m not wrong when it comes to feeling the kind of peace that only the Savior can give us. Not the peace of the world, but the peace of God. And with that peace comes a happiness that cannot be replicated by Satan or any other worldly source. It is a peace that ignites my spirit and lights my soul. It’s the peace that comes from the gospel and a peace that I strive to have in my life, even during times of trial. It is a peace that’s worth every effort to obtain.
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