Alma 50:23 – “There Never Was a Happier Time” – Happiness is a Choice

Scripture Gem

“But behold there was never a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of [Captain] Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of judges.”

The first time I read this verse, my heart was touched.  It is lovely! It is positive, uplifting, and brimming with hope.  

But then, it dawned on me that this verse is found in the middle of the Book of Mormon “War Chapters.”  This was a terrible time in Nephite history. 

This was a time of widespread death and destruction. Thousands of warriors and innocent women and children were slaughtered.  Cities were pillaged.  Starvation was rampant.

So, how could it be the happiest time?

This verse contains a profound message: “happiness is a choice, not a condition.”*

Victor Frankl, a Nazi death camp survivor, observed that in the camps, many people shriveled up and died.  Others flourished by helping and serving their fellow inmates.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. . . .  Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up, I can choose joy and happiness ….” (Man’s Search for Meaning)

Like the Nephites in the middle of war and the Nazi death camp inmates, we can choose to be happy.

(* I have learned from personal experience that there are exceptional circumstances where happiness is beyond our volitional choice. This includes severe depression and extreme pain.)

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