Gordon B. Hinckley had a lot of great things to say, particularly regarding how we can be happy in life. So here’s a compilation of tips from him!
1. The purpose of life is to be happy!
Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.
Adam fell so that we might have joy! Don’t forget that when life gets busy or stressful or overwhelming. If you aren’t happy, you probably need to make some changes so you will be!
2. Happiness cannot be achieved if we are selfish or constantly complaining!
Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.
Complaining can be fun, I know. But it can also be really detrimental to our happiness. I’ve definitely experienced what it’s like to create bigger problems that I originally had simply by complaining too much. So be careful! Stay selfless, and turn outward as often as possible.
3. God is in charge when we’re righteous, so always stay positive!
It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.
In “The Surprising Science of Happiness” (a TED talk I HIGHLY recommend to everyone), Dan Gilbert explains that humans have a tendency to overestimate how bad the outcome of a certain event will be. A study showed that most of the time, if something happened more than three months ago, it has no effect on our happiness. They used the example of people winning the lottery and people become paraplegic. Three months after both events occurring, both groups of people reported similar happiness levels.
We would do well to remember the counsel of Mormon 5:23: “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?”
4. We should set realistic goals for ourselves – not impossible ones that will make us feel like failures.
Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target.
President Hinckley said this with regards to finding a husband, but it’s definitely applicable in life generally. Know what truly matters and what doesn’t – you’ll be a lot happier and more fulfilled. Also, make sure you don’t beat yourself up for not meeting an expectation you had for yourself. God typically uses positive motivation, while Satan tries to make us feel “not good enough” and discouraged.
5. Never underestimate the value of laughing.
In all of living, have much fun and laughter.
It may not be for everyone, but I personally love to make jokes about my trials. Making fun of myself makes things that are hard to bear seem a little lighter. I can think of few things as great in life as laughing. So do it a lot. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, and be someone who sees the humor in different situations.
If you want to laugh until you cry right now, read this (“Snuggie Texts”). It’s hilarious.
Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great purpose in heart.
6. Pray. K?
Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us. He is our Father. He is accessible to all who will seek Him.
For most of us, prayer is not the first thing we do when faced with something challenging, or when seeking more happiness. But it probably should be. Pray when you don’t want to pray. Find ways to remember to pray. And work on improving your prayers constantly.
7. Improve your attitude. Specifically, be less negative and more positive.
Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.
Complaining might feel good sometimes, but as Elder Holland taught, there is no problem so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse! According to various studies, around 70% of our thoughts are negative. I would hope that figure is far less for members of the Church, but either way – it highlights what a great need there is for more positivity! Positive people are always the best to be around.
8. Happiness requires work.
The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.
Most days I wake up and think, “Man, I wish I didn’t have to work 8-5 today. I would much rather stay in bed and watch Gossip Girl.” But I go to work, and I feel good at the end of the day. On days where I give in to my desires and take the day off for no good reason, I usually feel kind of crappy, or at least, not as happy as I thought I’d be after a day watching Chase Crawford on screen.
You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.
There have been times in life where I’m so fixated on being happy that I allow it to stress me out when I think I’m not “happy enough”. Elder Holland, in a BYUI devotional, said that we don’t find happiness by charging straight toward it, but by doing things consistently that lead to contentment. So basically, don’t constantly wonder if you’re happy enough – just constantly do things that will help you achieve increased happiness! And that involves a lot of helping others.
9. Study things that matter.
You can be smart and happy or stupid and miserable. . . it’s your choice
The glory of God is intelligence, and God has eternal happiness. So if we want to be like Him, we need to make the effort to gain intelligence.
10. Read more.
It is both relaxing and invigorating to occasionally set aside the worries of life, seek the company of a friendly book…from the reading of ‘good books’ there comes a richness of life that can be obtained in no other way.
I’m not much of a reader, unless it’s a brief online article, but President Hinckley talked a lot about the value of good books! So I guess we should try and read more. Seriously, there are like 10 different quotes where he talks about it. Let us know if you think reading helps your be happier!