From an address given in June 2016
Intro & Thesis
Good Evening Brothers and Sisters. Tonight, I have been asked to speak to you tonight on Living in the Present Moment and how to find joy in our mortal journey right now. I will do this through first articulating common barriers that arise that rob us of the ability to live in the present moment. After I discuss the barrier I suggest solutions for overcoming these problems. The barriers that I will be discussing include forms of living in the past: , guilt, shame and grudge-bearing; barriers to living in the present including drudgery and aimlessness; and finally living in the future through stress, anxiety and worry. The inability to live in the present moment leads to all sorts of destructive coping mechanisms such as escapism and addiction. In contrast, the capacity to live in the present moment is a key element of finding happiness in this life, and I will use Gospel principles corroborated by research to prove the point.
Barriers & Solutions I: Guilt & Repentance
The first thing that can rob you of the ability to live in the present moment is guilt. From a spiritual perspective, we will all experience guilt that arises from sin for the Apostle Paul taught: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” From a psychological perspective, emotions are caused by thoughts. Thus, Guilt is the emotion that arises when you think: “I have done something wrong.”
This thought can trigger from 5 common types of experiences:
i.) Guilt for something that you actually did.
ii.) Guilt for something that you thought of doing.
iii.) Guilt for something that you think you did but aren’t sure of.
iv.) Guilt because you don’t believe you did enough to help someone.
v.) and finally, Guilt for doing better than somebody else.
Since the experience of guilt relies on our imperfect analysis of life data, it follows that we will sometimes have disproportionate or unrealistic guilt that may be robbing us of the ability to live in the present moment.
From a spiritual perspective, President Boyd K. Packer taught us that guilt is an internal warning system analogous to pain for the physical body. Pain is designed to warn you that damage is being done to your physical body and it overwhelms your attention so that you are motivated to do something to prevent further physical damage. The ability to experience pain is essential to survival as evidenced by those people with a rare disorder called congenital analgesia. These people cannot feel pain and thus cannot tell when damage is being done to their body. Without this warning system, these people are at a much higher risk of death.
Similarly, guilt is the spiritual warning system that indicates that damage is being done to our spirits. The more severe the guilt the more damage is being done to our spirit. Like pain, guilt overwhelms our attention and can make every moment a dysphoric (or negative) experience. Like congenital analgesia, a form of spiritual analgesia can occur if we continually ignore guilt signals. Paul referred to this condition when he wrote to Timothy of those who had their “conscience seared with a hot iron.”
So, how do we eliminate guilt without becoming spiritually dead? We have to first assess guilt along two dimensions: realism and severity. Guilt can be inappropriate when we believe we have done something wrong but we really have not. This can occur when we feel guilty for simply thinking of something. There is a difference between what we would call intrusive thoughts or temptations and thoughts that we have dwelt upon and invited in. It is not a sin to be tempted for Paul teaches us that even Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 2:18 records: “For in that he himself (Jesus) hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18.) Our thoughts only become sinful when we encourage and invite our temptations to stay.
The inability to differentiate between intrusive tempting thoughts and sin is at the heart of many presentations of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When we catastrophize or “make a catastrophe” of an intrusive thought we can develop distorted guilty feelings and create rituals to compensate for our perceived wrongs.
Paradoxically, when you try too hard to suppress a tempting thought you can actually increase it in what is called the “rebound effect.” Here is an example of the rebound effect: “For the next 10 seconds I want you to think of anything but a white bear.” Most people report being unable to not think of the white bear. The solution for intrusive thoughts and avoiding the rebound effect is to not be afraid of the thought and to accept it for what it is: a temptation. Once you accept that you are being tempted and don’t fear the thought then you can dismiss it.
We can also reality test our guilt by examining the evidence. Reality testing is simply determining if something is true and accurate or not. Seek guidance from the Holy Ghost and get input from others as to how guilty you are of something you are unsure of.
If you have reality tested your guilt and found that you are in fact guilty of sin then there is only one solution that will allow you to eliminate that guilt and be able to live in a state of peace. That solution is to unlock the Atonement of Jesus Christ through the key of repentance. Repentance is truly one of the greatest blessings that God has made available to us and every one of us will need to become familiar with this too if we wish to be able to find true joy and live in the present moment. John taught that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” “If we say that we have not sinned, we make [the Lord] a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 8-10)
In order to repent, you must follow these 7 simple steps. First you must recognize that you have sinned, as I have already discussed. Second, you must feel true godly sorrow for what you have done and not the sorrow of the damned. Godly sorrow is genuine remorse while the sorrowing of the damned is simply sorrow for getting caught or sorrow that God would not always allow you to take pleasure in sin. Third, we must forsake our sins and try our best not to repeat them. We then must confess our sins to God and to proper priesthood authority for violations of covenants, especially the law of Chastity. Afterwards we do all we can to make restitution and rely upon the Grace of Jesus Christ to make up for what you cannot restore. We then maintain a remission of our sins by keeping the commandments and forgiving all who have wronged us.
President Packer exhorts us to repent and use the atonement daily. He states: “For some reason, we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life. When we are racked or harrowed up or tormented by guilt or burdened with grief, He can heal us… We all make mistakes. Sometimes we harm ourselves and seriously injure others in ways that we alone cannot repair. We break things that we alone cannot fix. It is then in our nature to feel guilt and humiliation and suffering, which we alone cannot cure. That is when the healing power of the Atonement will help…The Atonement has practical, personal, everyday value; apply it in your life. It can be activated with so simple a beginning as prayer.”
When we utilize the atonement we find peace that only the Savior can give: He taught: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)”
How do we utilize the atonement in our daily lives? First, you must believe that Jesus Christ can heal you and will give you eternal life. Alma taught that If you can even manage a desire to believe this, act “as if” this belief is true and judge the results. Your Faith in Christ will lead you to comply with the conditions He has set for healing. The major condition is repentance of ALL of your sins. This involves confessing and forsaking any evil in our lives. After you have expressed faith and repented, look to the next ordinance of salvation. Afterwards, your faith and healing have to be actively maintained by daily scripture study, prayer and partaking of the sacrament each week. If you have done all of these things, you will have peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
When we experience guilt, we lose the ability to live in the moment as we are chained to the mistakes of our past. Living with guilt is thus a form of living in the past. We can become free of this guilt by reality testing it and subjecting it to evidence, by utilizing the atonement and repenting of our sins. When we do all of these things we can free ourselves from the past and find peace that only Christ can offer us.
Barriers & Solutions II: Shame & Resilience
The next barrier to living in the moment is another form of living in the past and that is the experience of Shame. Many confuse shame with guilt and use them interchangeably but they are different. While guilt can lead to positive outcomes researchers have not found that shame correlates with any positive change. Shame is destructive while guilt can be constructive. The differences are best summarized in this way: When you do something wrong, guilt says: “I did something bad.” Shame says, “I am bad.” Shame researcher Brene Brown defines shame in this way: “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Shame is manifested through thoughts such as: “If they only knew this, I would be rejected,” or “I’m not good enough to belong here.” How can you take joy in the present moment if you are bogged down with such a destructive and untrue belief?
If you believe that your imperfections, make you undeserving or incapable of love and belonging then you are experiencing shame. This belief and attitude is entirely destructive and is not supported by scripture and the teachings of the prophets. The antidote for shame is a correct understanding of Gospel principles and in embracing your vulnerability. Contrast these shame beliefs with the attitude that the Apostle Paul would have us take.
Paul taught the Romans: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword….Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39) In other words, apart from denying the Holy Ghost, there is nothing that you can do that will separate you from the love and grace of Jesus Christ. All belong and are beloved sons and daughters of God.
King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon taught us that: “The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing’s of the Holy Spirit.”
In the Book of Ether the Lord teaches us more about how we should relate to and view our own weaknesses and flaws: 12: 27 “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Thus, according to the Lord weaknesses are given to us by Him in order to make us humble and to teach us to rely upon God. He reminds us that the Lord’s grace is sufficient to make up for whatever we lack.
These scriptures teach us that we are all sinners with tremendous weaknesses but that these qualities are necessary for our eternal education and progression. As we come unto Christ and rely upon His Grace and have faith in his love for us then we can overcome anything and there need not be any shame in our fallen condition.
Apart from viewing our flaws and weaknesses through a Gospel lens we can also deal with shame through exercising self-compassion. There are 3 components of self-compassion: Self-Kindness, common humanity or recognizing that challenges and failures are part of being human that everyone shares and mindfulness which as a non-judgmental mind state of acceptance rather than repression and denial. Self-compassion stands in contrast with being critical of ourselves. Contrary to expectations, being self-critical actually is not correlated with any positive outcomes nor Is it a good motivator for positive change. Researchers have found that, paradoxically, exercising self-compassion and forgiving yourself is more likely to lead to positive change than beating yourself up. Self-compassion is motivated by love while being self-critical is motivated by fear.
And one final way that we can deal with shame or this belief that we are flawed and do not belong is to experience empathy from another person. Shame is perpetuated and maintained by silence. When you give words to your experience and have someone else respond with empathy and understanding then shame loses its power. One research team found that the act of not discussing a traumatic event or confiding it to another person could be more damaging than the actual event. Conversely, when people shared their stories and experiences, their physical health improved, their doctor’s visits decreased, and they showed significant decreases in their stress hormones.
Thus, to summarize, we can overcome experiences of shame through interpreting our weaknesses and flaws through a Gospel frame, exercising self-compassion and speaking to others of our experiences.
Barriers & Solutions III: Grudges & Forgiveness
The final form of living in the past that I am going to talk about is grudge-bearing or failing to forgive. One Psychologist describes grudge-bearing as: “incorporating a complex of negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative motivations, and avoidance behavior focused on the offender and the transgression. The negative emotions are primarily feelings of anger, bitterness, and resentment, but also include fear of future harm. The negative thoughts reflect memories of what a person said or did… The negative motivations often focus on revenge or hoping for justice…
Grudge-bearing focuses on the past and keeps people bound to living in the past. The process of forgiveness frees a person to focus on the present and the future.” (The Psychology of Forgiveness: Sutton, 2014)
Forgiveness is important because, as the Apostle Paul taught, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everybody in your life will disappoint you at some point. We, as fallen human beings, are flawed by nature. Recognizing the fallen nature of man, Nephi proclaimed: “Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm” (2 Ne. 4:17–18, 27, 34). If you are expecting perfection from others you will be let down. Our family and friends are fallen people just like we are and are in need of grace, mercy and redemption just like we are.
God, knowing perfectly the fallen nature of His creation, therefore commanded us to abundantly forgive. The Gospel of Matthew records:
- “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” (Matt 18:21) Essentially, Jesus was saying that there is no set limit to the number of times we are to forgive others.
This principle of mercy or forgiveness is so important, that we cannot inherit salvation and exaltation without developing it. Jesus taught: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6.14-15).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in his talk “Remember Lott’s Wife” gives some excellent counsel on how we ought to respond to those who have wronged us. He teaches: “I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in.”
He continues…There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life— either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.
When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.
Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried.”
If we keep throwing the faults, sins and mistakes of others in their faces then at some point we are under greater condemnation than the original sinner. In D&C the Lord taught:
- “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. (D&C 64: 8-11)
Brothers and Sisters, if we are tempted to not forgive others or to believe we are superior to those who have wronged us, remember the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican recorded in Luke 18:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
One final note on forgiveness is how we define it. There are many people who confuse forgiveness with condoning, excusing or reconciling but it is not. Elder Richard G. Scott clarifies what forgiveness is, especially in relation to those who have wronged us. He teaches: “”Forgiveness does not imply that an individual has “forgotten” all memories of the abuse, that he or she condones the behavior or absolves the perpetrator of responsibility, or that he or she must become reconciled with the perpetrator, particularly if there is the possibility of further abuse. What forgiveness does imply is that an individual has relinquished feelings of hate or bitterness toward another, has placed the matter in the Lord’s hands, and has enabled Him to operate more fully in his or her life. In forgiving, an individual frees himself from the perpetrator and is therefore better able to progress.” Richard G. Scott
Thus, to forgive is to let go of our anger, bitterness and hatred towards another who has wronged us and to put it in the hands of God, trusting that He will deal with it and submitting ourselves to His will in the matter as revealed through the Holy Ghost. It means that we do not seek vengeance or to be the ones to punish: Paul admonished the Romans when he said: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves…for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12: 19 )
If there is anyone in your lives that you are in need of forgiving, do so immediately. Many studies have been done that have verified the benefits of forgiveness. Those who forgive abundantly have a higher state of well-being, less depression, they live longer and heal quicker after entering a hospital. When you forgive, you free up scare mental resources that were devoted to nurturing the grudge and are capable of enjoying the present moment, free of past wrongs.
Barriers & Solutions IV: Living in the Present: Drudgery & Flow
Now that we have discussed different forms of living in the past I would like to turn now to a present barrier to living in the moment and that is drudgery. Drudgery is defined as engaging in distasteful or dull work. President Hinckley taught us that “Work without vision is drudgery.” When you are engaged in aimless, boring work that isn’t developing your talents and for which you don’t see meaning you will have a hard time living in the present moment. Choosing your life’s work is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. Choosing the wrong path for you can lead to a life of drudgery. President Thomas S. Monson taught of how important this decision is he said:
“My advice to them..is that you should study and prepare for your life’s work in a field that you enjoy, because you are going to spend a good share of your life in that field. It should be one which will challenge your intellect and which will make maximum utilization of your talents and your capabilities. Finally, it should be a field that will supply sufficient remuneration to provide adequately for your companion and your children. Now that’s a big order. But I bear testimony that these criteria are very important in choosing your life’s work.”
Other theories derived from psychological research can also help guide you in deciding whether your current life’s work is optimized to achieve happiness.
The Researcher John Holland developed a theory that suggests there are 6 different types of work environments that correspond to 6 personality types.
The First personality type is: Realistic, these people Like to work with animals, tools, or machines; generally avoid social activities like teaching, counseling, nursing, and informing others; They have good skills in working with tools, mechanical drawings, machines or animals, They Value practical things you can see and touch — like plants and animals you can grow, or things you can build or make better; They see themselves as practical, mechanical, and realistic.
The Second type is Investigative: these people Like to study and solve math or science problems; they generally avoid leading, selling, or persuading people; Has good skills at understanding and solving science and math problems; Values science, and sees self as precise, scientific, and intellectual.
The third type is Artistic: They Like to do creative activities like art, drama, crafts, dance, music, or creative writing; they generally avoid highly ordered or repetitive activities; They have good artistic abilities – in creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art and they value the creative arts – like drama, music, art, or the works of creative writers; and See themselves as expressive, original, and independent.
The fourth type is Social: They Like to do things to help people – like teaching, counseling, nursing, or giving information; They generally avoid using machines, tools, or animals to achieve a goal; They Have good skills at teaching, counseling, nursing, or giving information; They value helping people and solving social problems; They See themselves as helpful, friendly, and trustworthy.
The Fifth type is Enterprising: These people like to lead and persuade people, and to sell things and ideas; they generally avoid activities that require careful observation and scientific, analytical thinking; They are good at leading people and selling things or ideas; They Value success in politics, leadership, or business; and see themselves as energetic, ambitious, and sociable.
The last type is Conventional: They like to work with numbers, records, or machines in a set, orderly way; they generally avoids ambiguous, unstructured activities. They are good at working with written records and numbers in a systematic, orderly way; They value success in business; and see themselves as orderly, and good at following a set plan.
The point of the theory is to discover what your personality type is in order to find a matching work environment. If you are an artistic person working in a conventional work setting chances are you will not be satisfied and your life will become drudgery.
Another theory that can help you determine the best job fit is called job characteristics theory. According to this theory, work satisfaction can be predicted by examining five different characteristics of your work. The characteristics of fulfilling work, whether church or secular, include the following:
1) Skill variety which means the job requires the use of diverse skills and talents and not just one repetitive action.
2) Fulfilling jobs allow you to be in charge of completing a whole piece of work from start to finish.
3) They also allow you to contribute to something greater than yourself and thus have meaning.
4) Fulfilling job gives the person autonomy or freedom in scheduling hours and determining how to get the work done.
5) And finally fulfilling jobs provide a feedback system where you can see the impact of your work.
This counsel from modern prophets and psychological research is designed to help you avoid drudgery and thus be able to appreciate your life’s work. If you choose wisely then you will experience a state of consciousness that psychologists have called “flow.” Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you were “in the zone?” This is flow. It is an experience that includes losing all sense of time, distractions fade away and you are living completely in the present moment. Pay attention to what activities give you this sense of “flow” and it will be a good indication of what your life’s work will be.
Barriers & Solutions III: Living in the Future: Anxiety & Faith
Now that we have discussed living in the past and dealing with barriers in the present, I would like to end by speaking on a form of living in the future: anxiety and stress. Anxiety is the emotion that we feel when we think: “Danger, there is something coming that is going to harm me.” Stress is simply a perception. It is a judgment that we make that we will not be able to handle something that is upcoming.
Once you tell your body that something dangerous is about to happen that will exceed your ability to handle it, the body responds by activing the fight-or-flight response but in the case of anxiety it is flight. Your heart begins to beat faster to feed more blood to your muscles to help you run away; You begin to experience tunnel vision on the threatening object or event so that you can avoid distraction; Your thoughts race to help you evaluate numerous courses of action; You begin to hyperventilate to take in more oxygen for demanding physical tasks and your palms become sweaty to help cool down your body. Your body does all of this to prepare because you made a decision or a judgment that you cannot handle whatever is coming.
Anxiety disorders or chronic worrying occur when individuals are perceiving danger that is disproportionate to the reality of that danger. That perception can activate the body’s stress response too frequently which leads to health problems. Chronic worry, stress and anxiety are some of the biggest thieves of joy and living in the present moment.
The antidote for anxiety is faith and obedience to God’s commandments. Standing in stark contrast to these anxiety beliefs are the promises that God has given us that He asks us to have faith in.
If you have put your faith in anything other than the God of Israel then your life will be riddled with doubt, stress and anxiety. Only God can give you real security which will allow you to have enough trust to let go of worries and be able to live in the present moment.
The First Commandment tells us how to be happy. God Revealed to Moses “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)” If we set our hearts upon anything other than God we will never be satisfied. The Author of Ecclesiastes teaches us: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
Only Jesus can give us the water that will permanently quench our thirst for happiness and alleviate our worries.“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall bein him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)
The Scriptures give us certain promises that we can trust in that will cast away all of our fears if we truly believe them. I would suggest 5 specific promises for you to remember the next time you are stressed out or worrying:
First, God has promised us eternal Life. “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (1 John 2:25) Eternal Life means living forever with Him in a state of endless joy beyond our comprehension. Your current struggles are temporary in nature and if you are faithful your ultimate happiness is guaranteed.
- God has promised to compensate us for all our losses in this life. “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29‐30)
- God has promised us that we will always have the resources we need to deal with stressful situations. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
- God has established boundaries in your life that no evil can pass. “ I believe that the first and foremost thing for us to remember is that our beloved Master is in charge. In him we live and move and have our being. He has placed controls on the course of the heavens, the forces and events of nature, the course of nations, and the life of every human being. He grants each of us on this earth enough agency to show our true nature, but never enough to destroy his own purposes. Because men have agency, there is evil. But that evil always has bounds.” ‐Chauncey C. Riddle
To Joseph Smith in moments of trial, and referring to his enemies, the Lord said, “Hold on thy way, for their bounds are set, they cannot pass.” (D&C 122:9.)
- God has promised to turn all of our struggles, sorrows and hardships into gains for us. “Nevertheless, Jacob, my first‐born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2)
Faith in the Promises of God leads us to Happiness & Soul Security. However, in order to put faith in those promises you need to be clear on your standing before Him. If your anxieties are around unrepented sins then as Alma taught his wayward son Corianton, let those anxieties work in you to bring you down into repentance and then you may
- In order to feel peace at, you must know your standing before God. If God is pleased with your life, you ultimate happiness is guaranteed.
“We next proceed to treat of the knowledge which a person must have, that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation. It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had a more enduring substance.” (Joseph Smith)
Once again, psychological research backs up the importance of Faith. One researcher set out to define and determine what exactly Happiness was. Here was his conclusion after years of research:
“Happiness is the attitude we call trust – a profound trust –accompanied by a reassuring feeling of confidence that one can effectively handle whatever life may bring, good or bad. This attitude of trust allows one to live in the present moment in which there are no frets about the past or worries about the future. This feeling of confidence is pleasant, refreshing, and steadfast.”
In other words, happy people who can live in the present moment have immense trust or faith that they can handle what life brings and that ultimately everything will work out for their good. Happiness is therefore synonymous with Faith.
As Latter Day Saints we have been promised that ““all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
Apart from developing a profound trust in God, you can also learn to challenge your anxiety thoughts by recognizing distorted thinking. A distorted thought is one that skews reality in a certain direction, usually in a negative one. There are 3 common distortions that are present in anxiety thoughts: catastrophizing, overestimating threat and underestimating the ability to cope. For example, social anxiety is usually characterized by thoughts such as: “If I speak up, I will be rejected.” This belief is often distorted because the person often overestimates the likelihood of this happening, underestimates their ability to handle it if it does occur and magnifies or catastrophizes the consequences. If anxious thoughts are robbing you of happiness in the moment take some time to write those thoughts down and check if you are making a catastrophe, overestimating threat or underestimating your ability to cope.
Conclusion & Summary
To summarize, the capacity to live in the present moment is a key element of finding happiness in this life. We sometimes rob ourselves of this ability by being tied to the past through guilt, shame and grudge-bearing. We can free ourselves of the past through utilizing the atonement, experiencing empathy from others, having self-compassion and learning to forgive. Sometimes barriers in the present such as drudgery and aimlessness impede our ability to enjoy our lives. We can take counsel from modern prophets and apostles and use theories derived from research to ensure our personalities and talents match our work environment and that our work possesses all of the necessary characteristics for fulfillment. Finally, we can also lose the capacity to live in the present moment by focusing too much on the future through anxiety, stress and worry. We can challenge our anxious thoughts by developing trust in God and His promises and through learning to recognize and correct distorted thinking.
I close now with my testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that only through Him can you find the peace and grace necessary to give you happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. He is the author of our salvation, the cause for our joy and the Great Redeemer of mankind. It is because our Lord successfully completed His mission to atone for the sins of all mankind that we have reason to rejoice and trust fully in Him who is mighty to save, relying upon His merits and not our own. I leave this message with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.