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The Daily Misery Index (below) shows the frequency of Google searches for the words pain, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and depression for every day for a year. According to Google, the data identified the most and least miserable days of 2014.
As you can see, the least miserable days of the year were New Year’s Day, the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Christmas Day was the least of the least miserable days.
You can also see that summer months were less miserable than winter. The explanation is that darker, colder months can cause more depression. A psychiatrist who reviewed the graph said: “It’s been shown pretty clearly that as daylight decreases, starting in the fall, people will have more feelings of depression and anxiety. If they are feeling depression and anxiety, they will report stress.”
But why then, when December is a cold, dark month, should there be “a pronounced dip in depression, anxiety, and stress?” One explanation is that the negatives of cold and dark are offset by what experts call “holiday-induced euphoria.” The reasons for holiday-induced euphoria could include the giving and receiving of gifts, the giving and receiving of service, the focus on the birth of Jesus Christ, and the fun tradition of Santa Claus.
The opposite of the Daily Misery Index would be a Daily Joy Index. But since no one googles joy on a joy-filled day, where could we find such a measure? Perhaps, General Conference where the “good news” of the gospel and “the plan of happiness” are taught could provide a measurement of joy.
In the recent October General Conference, there were thirty-eight talks. In twenty-four, the word joy was spoken at least once. In total, joy was used 127 times; plus we sang, “Now Let Us Rejoice” and the choir sang, “On This Day of Joy and Gladness.” You might say that joy was a constant thread.
Two talks oozed joy. Elder Dale G. Renlund, the newest apostle, used joy 18 times in “Repentance, a Joyful Choice,” as he merged the concepts of repentance and joy. He said Jesus “is joyful when we choose to repent,” implying that joy is a gift we can give to our Savior. He invited you “to feel more joy in your life: joy in the knowledge that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real; joy in the Savior’s ability… and desire to forgive; and joy in choosing to repent.”
President Russell M. Nelson used joy fifty-two times in his talk: “Joy and Spiritual Survival.” He defined joy as a “principle that is key to our spiritual survival” and which “will only become more important as the tragedies and travesties around us increase.” He spoke of frightening last-days’ prophecies: “None of us should be surprised when we see prophecy fulfilled…. As conflicts between nations escalate, as cowardly terrorists prey on the innocent, and as corruption in everything from business to government becomes increasingly commonplace… what can help each of us with our personal struggles and with the rigorous challenge of living in these latter days?”
He said: “Just as the Savior offers peace that “passeth all understanding” (Philippines 4:7), He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers with an incurable illness or when you lose your job or when your spouse betrays you. Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” (D&C 121:7) and be consecrated to our gain (see 2 Nephi 2:2)….” He concluded: “Joy comes from and because of [Jesus Christ]… the source of all joy.”
One woman, feeling more misery than joy in her life, wrote a refrigerator sign: “Choose joy; find joy; give joy; feel joy; spread joy.” Her word for the year was enjoy. Her scripture for the year: “[Wo]men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
During December when you choose joy, as Elder Renlund and President Nelson taught, “Joy to the World” can be a constant thread and a measure of your daily holiday index.