There’s a story in the Book of Mormon about a family who leaves everything the have and know because of a revelation from God. You know the one. The father learns that the city they live in will be destroyed. It is not safe. If they stay, they will die or be taken into slavery. It is that serious. But could you even imagine doing this? Pack only what you need and hightail it into the desert. Leave behind everyone and everything you know. Many things happen while they are in the desert, but after a while some members of the family get discouraged. After all, they are in the desert and by this time the sons have families of their own. Women have given birth. They have been gone for years. In the middle of recounting their hardships to Nephi, they say,
“Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.” (1 Nephi 17:21)
We might have been happy, but we are not.
It reminds me about how many times I allow my circumstances to rob me of my happiness. If x happened, I would have had a good day. If the sun were shining, I could be happy.
But this isn’t how life works. We can’t lay out our lives like colored tiles, each one fitting perfectly into the one beside it, forming a predictable tessellation. Life is more like being handed irregular pieces of shattered glass and asked to create something beautiful. Life takes creativity, patience, and an eye for the unexpected. It takes ears that can listen to the master artist’s hints and suggestions.
But how do we do this? I recently listened to a talk by President Uchtdorf about happiness in which he suggests two ways we can take control of our own happiness. He says that in order to experience God’s happiness we need to participate in two activities: creating and being compassionate. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control what we do about it. Here is what President Uchtdorf had to say about creativity and compassion:
“What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. . .The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”
“Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to ‘succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.’ Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior ‘mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.’
When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.”
Through exercising our creativity and expressing compassion for those around us, we can lift ourselves out of our circumstances and not only feel happiness, but also become a source of joy for those around us. Unlike Laman and Lemuel, we don’t have to lament that “we might have been happy,” instead, we can rejoice that we are.
adapted from original post here