During our mission at BYU-Hawaii, a student came to my office and was troubled because he did not feel happy. When asked “What is happiness to you?” He said, “I don’t know.” With his permission, we went to the cafeteria where students were having breakfast and asked them, “What is happiness for you?”

Some answered, “Happiness is family” or “Happiness is the gospel of Jesus Christ” or “Happiness is my husband.” One student looked at her delicious breakfast and said “Happiness is crepes!” We asked them if they ever heard that ”Happiness is a choice?” Almost all of them agreed, “Oh, yes, happiness is a choice!” When we got back to my office, I asked him what he thought now. He said, “I’m still not sure.” So, I challenged him, “What if you turn happiness into gratitude… what things are you grateful for?”

President Thomas S. Monson encouraged us to develop an “Attitude of Gratitude.” (Gen. Conf., April 1992). President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 1997, 250)

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught that “We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.

This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation…” (General Conference, April 2014).

In Adjusting to Missionary Life, pages 17, 20, 23, it reminds us:

  • Recognize the hand of the Lord in all things. You have a front row seat to the greatest miracle of all: the effect of Christ’s Atonement on individuals and families. Practice focusing every day on blessings you are grateful for. Notice the Spirit’s influence in your life, and write about it. (See Moroni 10:3.)
  • Refocus on gratitude. Notice what is around you. Focus for a few minutes on what is right, good, and positive about yourself and the world. Offer a prayer of gratitude for at least five specific things.
  • Express gratitude. Be grateful not only for your blessings but for your challenges and adversities and what you can learn from them. This will open the door for the Lord to bless and help you.

May the Lord bless each of us with a grateful and a happy heart.

[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately.  In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]