There's one ability, one gift that every one of us can choose to have: happiness. It's a gift wecan literally give ourselves. So how do we access this free gift?
Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast.
Everyone has a gift. Some are blessed with athletic ability, empathy, problem-solving skills, artistic talent, a high IQ — the list goes on and on. And some people seem to have more than a few of these gifts.
But there's one ability, one gift that every one of us can choose to have: happiness. It's a gift we can literally give ourselves. So how do we access this free gift?
Some try to find happiness through recreation or entertainment. What they often find is fun, but it usually doesn't last very long. Eventually they discover that fun and happiness are not the same thing. Real happiness, for example, doesn't depend on what happens to us but on something that happens inside us.
One woman felt unhappy whenever she looked at online posts about weddings, celebrations and vacations. They all reminded her of what she didn't have. Everyone's life seemed happy except for hers. But then she noticed that no one posts pictures of their overdrawn bank statement, their disastrous dinners, or their family squabbles. When she realized she was just seeing one snapshot, one small slice of another's life, she could see how pointless it was to compare herself to others.
This perspective changed the way she looked at social media. Now she sees it as a way to connect to people she cares about, and even as a reminder to reach out personally. She now posts uplifting messages — not so that people will admire or envy her but to give hope to someone who might be discouraged or burdened. In short, she now thinks less about herself and more about others. And in this she found the gift of happiness. Her own problems haven't disappeared, but they no longer control her mood.
Not all of us have a high intelligence quotient, but we can all do things to raise our "happiness quotient." Even when burdened by trials, we can greet others with genuine interest, extending real friendship, letting them know that we care and they're not alone. Deciding to be someone who lifts others always lifts us.