Happiness is a Choice

Happiness is a choice, not a condition

This is generally true. I say “generally” because there are exceptional circumstances where one’s condition can interfere with the ability to choose happiness. These conditions include: severe depression, extreme pain, major illness, heavy addiction, extreme hunger, starvation.

But for most people, happiness is a choice.

While I was recovering from a heart attack in the hospital, the cardiologist said, “I can’t believe you are so happy. You’ve just had a heart attack.”  I replied, “You can have a heart attack and be miserable, or you can have a heart and be happy. Either way, you’ve had a heart attack.” (The ER doctor had written on my chart, “Chest pain with smile.”)

Abraham Lincoln, who had a plethora of reasons to be miserable, observed, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

Two men looked out through the selfsame bars/ One saw the mud, the other, the stars.

Some Sources of True Happiness and Joy

Here are some of the sources of true happiness and joy:

  •   Help and serve others
  • Render humanitarian service
  •   Be kind and compassionate
  •   Maintain a positive attitude
  •   Count your many blessings
  •   Foster an attitude of gratitude
  •   Keep the commandments
  •   Follow the prophets
  •   Draw close to the Holy Ghost, the Comforter
  •   Draw close to the Savior, the Prince of Peace
  •   Increase in holiness
  •   Increase in spirituality     
  •   Repent, try to improve, regularly
  •   Focus on the gospel
  •  Share the good news of Jesus Christ
  •   Serve in the holy temple  
  •   Smile
  •   Laugh
  •   Bounce back
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

Great quotes on happiness

Gordon B. Hinckley:
“The Lord said, ‘Wherefore, lift up your heart and rejoice.’ (D&C 25:13) I believe he is saying to each of us, be happy.  The gospel is a thing of joy…. Cultivate an attitude of happiness.  Cultivate a spirit of optimism.  Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart….” (Gordon B. Hinckley, The Ensign, November 1984, p 86, 91-92)

E. Eugene Hanson:
One of the most critical challenges mankind faces today is to recognize the difference between happiness and mere pleasure. Satan has become extremely effective in his effort to convince people that pleasure should be the most sought-after objective.  He slyly promises that pleasure will bring happiness…. Real joy and happiness come from living in such a way that our Heavenly Father will be pleased with us....” (W. Eugene Hanson, Ensign, Nov. 3, p. 82-83)

Dennis Prager:
All happy people are grateful. Ungrateful people cannot be happy. Because gratitude is the key to happiness, anything that undermines gratitude must undermine happiness…. You cannot be happy if your primary identity is that of a victim, even if you really are one.” (Dennis Prager, Happiness is Serious Business)

Victor Frankl:
Victor Frankl, was a Nazi death camp survivor. This is one of the worst possible circumstances in human history. Frankl observed that most people in those inhuman circumstances succumbed to depression and hopelessness. They withered and died. Others rendered selfless service and tried to encourage and uplift others. They were happy and thrived.
“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. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy and happiness ….” (Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning)

Roy T. Bennett:
Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Therefore, choose wisely.” (Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart)

Joseph Smith:
Happiness is the object and design of our existence and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God…. In obedience there is joy and peace … and as God has designed our happiness…He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to his people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed….” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pgs. 255‑57, 1842)

Charles Schultz:
Happiness is a warm puppy.” (Charles Schultz, creator of Peanuts.)

Additional References:

  • 2 Nephi 2:25 (men are that they might have joy)
  • Helaman 13:38 (there is no happiness in doing iniquity)
  • Psalm 16:11: (the Lord’s presence brings a fullness of joy)
  • Alma 41:10 (wickedness never was happiness)
  • 4 Ne 1:15-16 (because of the love of God, they could not be happier)
  • Alma 26: 16-21 (forgiveness and redemption bring exquisite joy and happiness)
  • John 16:19-22 (Christ’s absence brings sorrow; his presence brings joy)
  • D&C 18: 13-18 (there is joy in conversion of others)
  • Mosiah 4:3: (joy comes from the Spirit and a remission of sins)
  • Mosiah 2:36-41 (happy state of those who keep the commandments)
  • D. Todd Christofferson, “The Joy of the Saints,” (Gen. Conf. Oct 2019)
  • Henry B. Eyring, “Holiness and the Plan of Happiness,” (Gen. Conf. Oct 2019)


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