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BYU Devotional: How to be happy now – and forever

Sister Jean B. Bingham, General Relief Society President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered Tuesday’s campus Devotional address. She spoke about how keeping an eternal perspective leads to current and lasting happiness.

Finding joy in our current day-to-day challenges is difficult. Embracing an eternal perspective can play a large part in a successful earthly journey.

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Sister Bingham offered five keys to eternal happiness:

1. Gain a knowledge of and faith in God’s Plan of Happiness.
“When we know who we are, why we are here and where we want to go, we can make choices that bring the greatest happiness and avoid the most pain and anguish, both now and in the eternities,” Sister Bingham said.

She said that through the Plan of Happiness, God’s children were prepared to come to Earth with eternal truths embedded in their spirits and were excited to try to become like their Heavenly Parents.

With the Plan of Happiness as the focus, we can feel joy regardless of our circumstances.

2. Trust in Jesus Christ and his Atonement.
“When we trust the Savior and the reality of his infinite Atonement, we can progress eternally,” Sister Bingham said.

Progress is not always linear, and staying on the covenant path is not always easy. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, no one is eternally lost from a divine destiny.

3. Plan and be intentional.
“Make a plan, just like you plan your study of chemistry or literature or statistics or music theory, to understand your divine identity and how to realize your true potential,” Sister Bingham said.

Sister Bingham also suggested reading both ancient and modern scripture, attending the temple regularly and serving others, both assigned and in daily interactions with loved ones and strangers.

Small and simple actions bring spiritual benefits, such as knowledge of our divine identities and strength against the adversary. We do not mature spiritually unless we are willing to change and move to a higher way of living, which requires choices made intentionally each and every day.

4. As you plan, prioritize.
“Rather than being paralyzed with uncertainty, we can use an eternal perspective as a tool to determine our direction when worldly signs may be pointing the wrong way,” Sister Bingham said.

The Lord promised that when the most important things are done first, the other things will be accomplished in the right time and order.

Trials and challenges are required for improvement, and we will each be given trials we need to grow and become closer to Heavenly Father. Keeping an eternal perspective in mind will help us see the errors in our ways, bringing change and improvement in a way that leads to eternal happiness.

5. Act in faith and with patience.
When trying a beloved family recipe, Sister Bingham created crumbly lemon “goo” instead of the intended lemon tarts. While they tasted delicious, they didn’t look as they were supposed to. After years of continued encouragement of family and friends and additional attempts at lemon tarts, now most of the treats come out of the tin looking whole.

“In the process, I learned that it takes a lot of time and careful attention to detail as well as patience and persistence to make something that is of high quality,” she said.

Spiritual progress takes just as much patience and attention to detail. Regardless of the number of attempts it takes, the Savior is there to help us learn and grow.

When looking at train tracks, the tracks become seemingly more narrow as they stretch into the distance. Living with an eternal perspective brings the opposite effect: the more completely we live the principles of the gospel, the more expansive our future becomes.

“I promise that as you plan, prioritize and act with humble faith in God’s love and in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you will develop an eternal perspective that will help you overcome the challenges of your life and you will feel unexpected, even indescribable, joy,” Sister Bingham said. “You will be guided and blessed, lifted and strengthened to follow the covenant path that leads to becoming your very best eternal self.”

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