At the start of 2020, before the pandemic, I began deeply pondering the meaning of the word ‘happy’. Each month I got a little closer to understanding it, but something would happen that would make genuine happiness unachievable. I thought there was something wrong with me. I considered that I might have the wrong perspective or a poor attitude, or perhaps it was something to do with the chemicals in my body.
I thought, 'Maybe this is just what adult life is supposed to be, a never-ending cycle of getting through disappointment and hard times.” I supposed one had to choose to be happy in those circumstances. Well, that made it more complicated for me. I thought it was my fault that I wasn't happy, while another part of me questioned if happiness was a real thing.
But I was fine. I wasn’t depressed or anything like it, I was just trying to understand my emotions. I was aware that I was blessed every day and was grateful, but I was caught up in this question, “Was I happy'? It was a ‘battle’ that went on in my mind for many months; I was trying to figure out what I was feeling and what I was supposed to be feeling. Messy!
In the UK the second lockdown hit us harder than the first. Then the Prophet, Russell M Nelson's message in November 2020, on gratitude being a principle of healing, was aired across the whole world. I was grateful for the reminder to be thankful, and it did heal me. Still, I wondered what ‘happy’ was.
I began wondering if a person who was consistently grateful was a ‘happy’ person. I think that is so, in some ways, but I was still grateful when I was ‘low’, and that confused me. Aren't the righteous supposed to be in a ‘state of happiness’? Such was my confusion. I probably shouldn't let my brain go there, but maybe we all do, especially in times such as those that we have had recently.
The Church’s April 2021 General Conference came, and the significance of the Saviour saying, 'Peace, I give unto you', began to collect in my mind. Previously, I had thought that the peace that the Saviour gave us was the ‘Restoration’, or the ‘Gift of the Holy Ghost’, or the opportunity for repentance. Now, I came to realise that the peace the Saviour left us is simply a genuine feeling and state of peace.
It's a state of peace that comes in and through His atonement and resurrection. Long story short, this ‘state of peace’ is clearly my understanding of being ‘happy’. I don;t need to have a defined and consistent feeling of happiness. I am just happy, even in my ‘lows,’ and it comes from the Saviour’s peace that I have through my covenants and faith in Him. This peace is always there, even in hard times. I am remaining firm and grateful in the state of peace that I have, because of the Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.
General Conference is beautiful, and I always get what I need from it. To me, April 2021 General Conference's overall message was that I need to increase my faith in the Saviour, Jesus Christ; faith written on my heart in: His miracles, conversions, love for humanity, peace, callings and ordinances, principles, justice, resurrection, eternal qualifications, the purpose and fulfilment of His plan, His coming and judgement, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the covenants. By holding on to these things my new happiness, everlasting peace, will increase.