Why Not Be Happy?
With so many pictures of happiness in our social media feeds, why do we often not feel happy?
With so much chatter out there about being authentic, why does that seem to mean anything but happy? (In other words, if you’re happy you must not be “real.”)
Real is this: motherhood is hard.
But that doesn’t mean motherhood can’t be happiness. Real doesn’t mean we can only talk about our struggles and not share our joys. But it feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?
It’s almost like there is a fear out there that if we talk about our happiness, it will make others unhappy.
Why? Where does that come from?
One of the adversary’s greatest tools (especially with current technological capabilities) is to get us to compare and compete with one another. When we see another’s fortune, blessings or goodness (aka happiness) it’s all too easy to wonder why we don’t have the same in our lives. Or scarcity takes over and we believe that if they are happy then we can’t be.
I find myself getting caught in this trap all the time. It’s a particulate weakness of mine, a lesson to be learned again and again. So I’m writing this for myself.
The beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that there is no end to the joy and happiness He desires for us. Our God is not a God of scarcity! In the parable of the laborers, all were paid the same. Each received his desired reward.
Our God is also no respecter of persons. He is not looking at Sally and saying she is good therefore Susan is bad (see Elder Holland on this topic, too). Our God’s love is all encompassing. It is universal! His love is our happy.
Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf gives us two great suggestions for finding happiness in our lives: Compassion and Creation.
Everyone struggles. Therefore, it makes not sense that the adversary would make us believe that they don’t. And yet, we all believe him! That is crazy to me. But I believe that message (more often than I’d like to admit)!
Another aspect of compassion that has become in a buzz word (but that I full-heartedly believe in) is self-compassion. When in the midst of comparing or competing with another mother’s life, pause. Take a moment to embrace your goodness. Not in a pouty,“well, I’m good, too” kind of way, but in truth and light. “I Am…” Two of the greatest words every spoken in truth and light.
And then be honest with yourself. If someone is getting praised for their paintings, why would I compare myself to them when I have zero desire whatsoever to paint!? That doesn’t make sense to me either. But we do it. I do it. My greatness is ME! Your greatness is YOU! That’s it. No comparison needed.
Which leads us to creation.
Creation is God’s work. Wendy Ulrich declared that as our Great Creator, “He doesn’t just turn us into pots, but He makes us potters (Let God Love You, 67).” The Creation of the world was for families. Our creation was His great work. When we create, we are joining His great work. Though we think of the outward examples of creation — painting, dancing, playing a musical instrument, etc. — Elder Uchtdorf explains there are many ways to create. Anything that brings light to the world around us is a creation! Cleaning my kitchen this morning after a few days of disarray…that was creating a place of peace and beauty in our home.
Your creation need not threaten my creation. Our very presence in the world is an act of creation. We simply need to ask ourselves if we’re going to show up. Am I going to let the world see me? Am I going to dim my light for the sake of others’ feeling comfortable? Am I going to create light in the world by being …me? The very act of living my true self is creation.
Why Not Be Happy?
So, why not be happy? When that is God’s design for us, why not be happy? “Men are that they might have joy.” I do not believe that only means in the eternities, but in the here and now. My meditation mantra for today was, “Happiness is my true nature.” And it is! God has intended it to be such. The comparisons, negative chatter and competing thoughts will always be there. Discouragement, failures and disappointment will always be there. Showing compassion to ourselves and others while creating space for light and truth will help combat those disparaging voices. This is know. I just have to remember.
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“I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the world of our Father…God will encircle you in the arms of His love…happiness is your heritage…you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Life up your chin; walk tall. God loves you.”
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf