What brings you joy? Pictures of rainbows, or sunrises? Seeing a soldier surprise his family when coming home? Maybe children playing together and having fun? Maybe it is eating that favorite dessert? There are many things that bring us joy, but what is joy and do you have it? If someone asked you to describe joy, how would you respond?
Seeing pictures like the ones described above on Facebook or Instagram make us smile and we feel joy, but then we see another post that we disagree with and the joy is gone! Is joy only found on our good days, or is it possible to feel joy while we, like Alexander, are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?
President Kevin Worthen, President of Brigham Young University, recently spoke about “Enduring Joy”. In his address President Worthen quoted from a talk that President Russell M. Nelson gave in 2016, he said:
“We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!
“My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy.” (Joy and Spiritual Survival)
President Worthen suggested that one of the purposes of this life is to learn how to experience the type of joy that our Heavenly Father experiences. “This much seems clear from revelation,” he said. “Joy is not merely a temporary emotion, but rather a more permanent and constant condition” that comes from living according to God’s commandments. “Although one cannot experience “a fulness of joy” during mortality, President Worthen explained that “one of the purposes of this life is to develop our capacity for joy.” Cultivating joy now will result in a corresponding increase of joy in the next life.
We can experience joy, even on bad days. President Nelson said that we can “feel joy regardless of what is happening – or not happening – in our lives”. If our lives are Christ centered and we love God and others as we would have them love us, then we experience the enduring joy that helps us get through the tough times. President Worthen cautioned that if we are not feeling joy during a bad day, we should not think that we have failed:
“Don’t let Satan fool you into thinking that you are failing in your quest for joy because you have tough days,” President Worthen said. “All of us do.”
President Worthen shared six principles about enduring joy:
- “We need to recognize, and constantly remember, that our ability to have joy in this life — and in the eternities — is not dependent on external circumstances.”
- “We should recognize and remember that enduring joy, constant joy, does not mean uninterrupted bliss and a life free of challenges. Suffering and adversity are part of the eternal plan, a part of the process by which we come to develop enduring joy.”
- “Recognize and remember that true joy, enduring joy, … ultimately comes only through keeping God’s commandments.”
- “Repentance is a critical part of experiencing enduring joy.”
- “Recognize and remember that joy is a principle of power [that] can increase our ability to stay on the covenant path.”
- “We begin to have joy when we focus on Christ.” (Enduring Joy)
One example of someone that was experiencing this joy was Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Nephi’s brothers were trying to kill him and so Nephi took his family and those who would follow him and they fled into the wilderness many days. Nephi then said that they “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5). I would think that having my brothers try to kill me would qualify for a bad day and yet Nephi described their life as happy.
So, the next time you have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, you don’t need to go to Australia like Alexander wanted to do. Instead, turn to Christ and lose yourself in service to others. Enduring joy is possible “regardless of what is happening – or not happening –in our lives.
Your comments and questions are always welcome.