Live After the Manner of Happiness

2 Nephi 5
Nephi continued to experience tough times as his brothers’ “anger did increase against me.” He “did cry much unto the Lord” in an effort to seek comfort, counsel, even peace. Nephi sought help from the main source available to him, the Lord. We are blessed in our day with many sources of hope and help to heal broken minds and heavy hearts. In his talk, “Like a Broken Vessel,” Elder Holland suggested, “If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.”

Nephi was also very aware of the “stress indicators” in his life. I am sure he prayed intently to know the “requisite adjustments” to make in order to improve his mental health and to protect his physical life since his brothers “did seek to take away my life.” The Lord counseled Nephi to make a very big adjustment. “The Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me” (2 Nephi 5:5). Sometimes, we are in circumstances or surrounded by people that really do bring us down. In our desire to rejoice, we need to prayerfully consider what adjustments we can make in order to fill our lives more fully with light and peace, love and joy.

Elder Holland counseled, “Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to ‘stand still‘ or ‘be still‘—and wait. Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.” Even though challenges and struggles are part of the plan and we don’t feel happy, we can still choose to “live after the manner of happiness.

A friend, who is one of my heroes, once told me that in her darkest hours from the depths of the crater in her mind she couldn’t see any light but she did remember seeing and feeling the light before. She knew she had felt that light in the gospel of Jesus Christ and if she had felt it once before she could feel it again. So she choose to live after the manner of happiness and “faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into [our lives]” in her desire to rejoice.

One of the first things Nephi did in his desire to rejoice was to surround himself with his family and with “those who believed in the warnings and revelations of God.” Being with family and good friends can strengthen us as we are surrounded by their love and their light. They can provide a listening ear, loving support, and hopeful encouragement to lift our spirits and brighten our outlook. We often want to be alone when we are depressed. We should remember to do the opposite and surround ourselves with those who love us and have our eternal happiness and welfare in mind.

In choosing to live after the manner of happiness, Nephi and his people also kept the “commandments of the Lord in all things,” searched the scriptures, planted gardens, cared for pets, prepared themselves to meet future challenges, built and created many things, attended the temple, and faithfully served the Lord and His people (see 2 Nephi 5:11-16, 26). Nephi encouraged his “people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.” In our efforts to nurture and care for other things and other people, we begin to see beyond our own darkness and doubts as we see the light, love, and beauty all around us. As we build and create things around our home and yard, we come to realize that we have the capacity to build and create our very lives with just as much joy and beauty.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen outlined these principles of “Living after the Manner of Happiness” in greater depth. Regarding planting a garden he said, “I cannot tell you logically why something as simple as planting a garden, however modest, and harvesting and enjoying the fruits of one’s labors is a source of great happiness, but I know it is. There is ‘far more than just a crop itself’ to be gained, and it can come from a flowerpot, a window box, or a single tomato plant, as well as from an entire garden or field.” As we plant or build or create something with our hands, we are nurturing and nourishing our hearts and our minds. Elder Jensen continued: “I know we’ll be happier if we regularly labor with our hands. Labor can take many forms: yard work, sewing, quilting, cooking, baking, auto repair, home repair—the list is endless, and so is the happiness and sense of accomplishment such activities produce.”

Heroes like Nephi and my friend have shown me that when we are frustrated by despair or depression we can choose to live after the manner of happiness as we obey the commandments, study the scriptures, attend the temple, work, serve, prepare, plant, build, and create. In doing so our minds and our hearts will be filled with greater light and hope, peace and love. And our lives will be filled with more moments of happiness and joy.

*Share an example of how living after the manner of happiness brought greater light and joy to your life in a time of despair or depression.

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