It sounds a bit to me like Heber13 has is defining whatever causes happiness as the gospel -- starting out with the premise that the gospel makes us happy, and then defining the gospel as whatever makes us happy. Again, for all its centrality in our lds religion, I do think you'll be hard pressed to get even a few GA's to give truly independent definitions of the gospel that are consistent with each other. Many will conflate it with the church, others will define it in a way that makes it unique to the restoration, and perhaps some will define it broadly like Heber did eventually in a previous post.
The fact is, even broad definitions -- that Christ suffered for our sins -- doesn't really make me happy, because as I said, I never felt that forgiveness in my prayers comes from a divine source. Peace came when I dealt with it my own sin cognitively, through self-talk or the realization I have changed.
I have self-respect knowing that certain bad habits are far behind me now, but that peace comes from knowing those habits are no longer part of my character, and it has nothing to do with the sacrifice of Christ in my view. I hate to say that, beacuse it sounds unappreciative if the story of Christ is completely true, but it is how I feel.
In terms of repentance and forgiveness, I just changed, so in that sense, I've made progress and moved past the sin.
The idea of the Justice and Mercy laws makes sense if you want to believe in a just world, but none of those "justice" consequences are levied upon us permanently in this life for day to day infractions. Therefore, they appear all make believe until I see it first hand some day or get a testimony of their existence. And then, we're relying on the same unreliable evidence like "spirit" or other subjective measures.
I think if I was thrown into earthly prison the law of Justece might seem "realer", but even then, it would be man made justice and Christ's sacrifice wouldn't be the thing to get me out of it -- it would be use of the legal system and probably some luck (if wrongly convicted).
I still remember being on a mission and we were strategizing with a member about how to convert her friend. We suggested we talk to her about how the gospel makes her happy. The member, a very genius type person, indicated "that won't work because she's already happy".
If we couldn't find a reason for her to embrace the gospel, I started questioning if the gospel DID make us happy beyond keeping us out of trouble with the law. In my own case, the church's implementation of the gospel kept me delivering pizza for two years to try to serve a mission, with little success. It alienated my family from me, something to this day which keeps me isolated and feeling rather alone in my life. Thank goodness my sister grew a conscience and saw that I was no longer on the radar of the family at all anymore, and reached out. The church's implementation or attachment to "the gospel" however defined, kept me in a miserable marriage for years until age and acceptance set it and I have learned to accept it. What a huge disappointment the LDS Church's "gospel" has been, and how much more liberated I feel now that I have learned to place it in a box and let it impact me only to the extent it makes my truly happy and comfortable. And its not due to Christ, or the atonement, the first principles and ordinances, or anything a traditional MOrmon can define -- it's due to the peace it creates in my family, and happiness I feel from knowing my "calling" is improving the boring LDS experience, and the fact that it keeps my marriage together, and away from alimony, child support, and loneliness as a divorced man if I openly reject it in front of my wife and family.
Happiness comes in abundance from other sources...as indicated in this course here:
https://aarp-lifereimagined.thebigknow. ... n/be-happy
The course'ss principles are consistent with, but not exclusive to general, life advice found in the LDS gospel definition (whatever that is).