Wednesday, January 18, 2012

how to be happy

Do you want to be happy? Well, like we learned in the last post, the answer is to be selfless (see Selflessness: A Pattern for Happiness). So how do we become more selfless? This same talk shares two simple steps to help you become more selfless, and therefore, more happy!

First, this talk prescribes "a very careful, introspective evaluation." It then lists some questions you can ask yourself, including things like whether you dominate a conversation or whether you listen carefully without interrupting.

Second, we must "develop an attitude of service—the ongoing desire for the well-being of others." This is similar to what I learned a few days ago when I wrote about being part of the body of Christ. What stood out to me is that this must come after a careful examination of the self to identify how I am being selfish.

I think it's helpful to know what it means to be selfish in order to more fully understand selflessness. This talk has a short paragraph defining selfishness:
The dictionary describes a selfish person as one who is “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking pleasure or well-being without regard for others.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.) May we add, a selfish person is often one who refers to “I,” “me,” and “mine” rather than to “we,” “ours,” “yours,” or “theirs.” This person is anxious to be in the limelight, to be on center stage in life’s little dramas. He or she may be a poor listener, or a conversation monopolizer. Selfishness is the great unknown sin. No selfish person ever thought himself to be selfish.
My goal, starting today, is to keep careful note of times when I feel myself slipping into selfishness. As I recognize selfish thoughts or actions in myself, I'll be much more able to stop being selfish and work more on serving others and becoming a real part of the body of Christ.

On a final note, I want to continue my thoughts about those who suffer from conditions that limit their ability to serve selflessly. This talk I've been referring to provides an excellent example of a caring mother who is bedridden and cannot serve her family the way she would like to serve them. Her daughter thought about her feelings of wanting to serve but not being able to, and said "You know, Mother, I think in your case wanting to is enough. Surely you will receive a blessing for service and selflessness as though you went to her home and helped." Like Alma taught, we will be judged not only according to our actions, but also according to our desires (Alma 41:3-5). The Lord will bless those who cannot serve just as much as He would someone who did serve, as long as their desires are the same.

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