Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

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Ilovechrist77
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Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 02 Oct 2020, 18:56

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. As my faith in God and the Mormon Church has changed over the years, many things I believe about those subjects have changed over the years.

My brief story: Yes, I was raised in the church, even baptized at 8 by my older brother before he served his mission. Being raised in the church throughout most of my childhood, I was hardly all that spiritual. I prayed a little bit a first, but after awhile I didn't get the point. I remembered being taught in church about many people actually seeing God and hearing God's voice after just praying to Him. At least, that was how I remember it at the time. That was the main reason why I stopped praying for a long time. Sacrament meeting was most of the time a real bore to me once after the sacrament was taken. So often I would spend looking at the clock wanting it to over with. Church classes was always much better for me.

When I was little I felt happy. I really did, even if I wasn't all that spiritual. Sometime in my pre-teen years, something changed inside of me. The happiness I felt earlier just felt like contentment then. Being raised with Autism or Aspergers, depending on what mental health professional you ask now, I had problems really understanding a spiritual life. An ordinary moral one, I think I understood, though. I didn't realize my spiritual life was really connected to my happiness. However, I'm getting ahead of my self.

Anyway, long story short: In my pre-teens to 20 years old, my happiness slowly turned into mere contentment. I slowly began to think life was about merely existing, not really living. During this time, I eventually developed bad habits, addictions (compulsions, depending on what mental health care professional you ask), ending up hurting my parents, and ending up almost getting kicked out of the house. I do feel sharing what those things are here. That's in my first post on this site. During the last conversation my parents when my parents gave me an ultimatum, I told them I didn't want anything to do with the church. I just wanted my freedom. I was so involved in my bad behavior that I didn't think I could change, though, it was hurting my parents and interfering with my life, causing me shame and guilt. Despite not wanting to go back to church, I slowly tried to develop other habits and exercise more often during this time. Eventually I was motivated to start going back to church through a convert friend of mine and other friends through the single adult group. Eventually I started starting the Book of Mormon and praying again. I starting feeling happy like I was when I was little, most of church became easier to sit through, and eventually shared with my parents my decision to serve a mission on a Sunday night after a fireside (cottage meeting) at a friend's house. When I got home from the meeting and began to apologize to my parents for my behavior and tell them I wanted to serve a mission, I was filled with so much happiness, peace, and forgiveness that I broke down crying. I knew that I had a spiritual testimony of the church, the gospel, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ then. I thought after my conversion that my problems were over. How wrong I was. I faithfully served a mission, despite some issues I needed help with. Despite living a spiritual life and serving a mission, I had faith crisis in the church which led to the faith journey I'm on now. Having religious scrupulosity which came sometime after my mission making it easier for me to go back into my compulsions, I got worse guilt and shame this time even before I was living with my parents in my non-spiritual compulsive mode. Although many times I was happy like the time I was when I became spiritual, I couldn't ever feel peace for very long. So after having been on anxiety meds after getting diagnosed with some anxiety disorders, getting more involved with communing Jesus Christ (I meditate to meditation music now, before I pray and study scriptures), not just Heavenly Father, and being on the spiritual journey I'm on now, my compulsions are much more under control now, and I regularly feel happy, as well as at peace normally. Feeling peace regularly beyond when I just felt the Spirit was something I didn't understand until now that I'm on the spiritual path I'm on.

I apologize for the last paragraph being a bit longer than I thought, but I'll just move on to the topic. This is what happiness means to me. It means much more than being content or satisfied with the the moment in time, but it means feeling you have true purpose in life. I don't mean just your occupation, hobbies, family, friends, your relationships. I mean your complete life that helps you grow. For me, it also means peace. Peace means to me knowing that although times can be rough eventually things do change and work out for the better in the long now. Happiness has been brought to me by striving to be close to the Savior and getting to know him more intimately. I want to get to know Heavenly Father, Mother, the angels, and the rest of the gods/goddesses in the Family Heavenly somehow, someday.

Now, I realize happiness can different means to different people. Most of our church or other religions in other think that just living only by those standards or teachings only cause happiness, nothing else can, although many in our church and those same religions will admit life isn't always so black and white. As the Book of Mormon says, "Wickedness never was happiness." However, I don't agree with that. I'm not saying it's good to harm yourself, others, or living things in anyway. Unfortunately, there are people that feel good abusing, murdering, or taking advantage themselves, people, or animals in anyway. I'm just saying that the church, everything in the church or church scriptures, or other religions is right for everyone and in every situation. Many people seem to have found happiness even in atheism or agnosticism. Problems and traumatic experiences can also change a person perspective about happiness. Is happiness or contentment the same? Is there a difference? Does it matter? I would love to see your comments.

Arrakeen
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by Arrakeen » 03 Oct 2020, 08:42

Personally, I don't like how the church talks about how "real" happiness can only come from the gospel. It makes it easy to ignore things that actually make you happy now, hoping that someday you'll find this elusive "real" happiness. Or that you would have better, "real" happiness if only you were more worthy.

I've often wondered why I don't seem to have a lot of true happiness in my life. I often find contentment and pleasure, but I always thought these were not "real" happiness.

Are pleasure and contentment the same thing as happiness? I'm not sure there's a whole lot of difference. When I have a bowl of ice cream or eat at a good restaurant, is that happiness? How about when I listen to my favorite song or watch my favorite TV show? How about when I have a game night with my family? I would say all of these count as happiness.

I guess I used to think "real" happiness was some profound, otherworldly experience that I could get if only I was more diligent in the gospel. Now I'm beginning to think it's kind of a waste to keep chasing after some "better" happiness, and I should try and enjoy what I have. I think there are some things in life that are probably a different level of happiness, like falling in love, getting married, or having a child, but these events are few and far between. I think most of life's joy probably comes from simple things like taking a needed nap, cracking jokes with family and friends, reading a book, etc.

Basically, I've spent most of my life so far trying to find some grand purpose that would give me true joy and happiness, but I haven't found anything. Looking back I can see I've been so obsessed with wanting everything to be meaningful that I've missed out on many of the things that actually make me feel happy.

So for me I think happiness is anything that makes me feel that life is good and worth living. I think pleasure, contentment, and joy are all types of happiness. They may differ in how long they last or how intense they feel, but in the end I would say they're all the same thing.

Minyan Man
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by Minyan Man » 03 Oct 2020, 09:10

It is interesting to read your story & how it relates to your life & experiences. As you said, happiness can mean different things to
different people. Our own happiness can be different depending on the stage of life we are in. For example:
Education: I hated High School & that period of my life. I loved college & learning at my own pace & chose my own field of study.

Work: I worked in a factory assembly line for awhile. I didn't hate it but I could see my life was going to be limited over time.
When I graduated from College I had a degree & majored in Accounting. All of my jobs were in manufacturing analyzing operations
& company performance. I loved it & miss it since I retired. I bridge the gap by helping family & friends during tax season.

Church: there was a time I tried to be everything to everyone. (hated it) Now I found Family History & I love it & can feel like I can contribute
in a small way. I can participate as much as I personally want to.

Personal Relationships: This is the best category for me. I have a select group of close friends. My children are grown with children of their own.
They have married interesting women with diverse an interesting backgrounds. My Grandkids have interesting lives & I can't stop talking about
them to anyone who is willing to listen. (any takers?)

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SilentDawning
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by SilentDawning » 04 Oct 2020, 09:13

To me, happiness is a state of peace in which nothing bothers you. It is coupled with emotional stability -- an absence of big mood swings.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Roy
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by Roy » 04 Oct 2020, 12:16

I took a college class about happiness.

I remember 2 main theories.

1) Happiness is related to how competent you feel in regards to your tasks.

2) Happiness is related to the sense of purpose you feel in your tasks.

If you feel that your tasks are part of an overarching purpose and that you are competent to complete them is a satisfactory manner then that is happiness.

The church is great for giving us purpose and for giving us practice doing church calling tasks in a relatively friendly setting.

The church is not the only organization that provides similar benefits.
Ilovechrist77 wrote:
02 Oct 2020, 18:56
Is happiness or contentment the same? Is there a difference? Does it matter?
The college class referred to this desired state as "flow". It meant those moments where everything has fallen into place and is "gelling" or "operating on all cylinders". I do not think it means that one is never sad or lonely or bored etc. I do think it means at a minimum that one feels like they matter, do good for themselves and other people, and feel competent in those tasks that they do.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

AmyJ
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by AmyJ » 05 Oct 2020, 05:17

Ilovechrist77 wrote:
02 Oct 2020, 18:56
Now, I realize happiness can different means to different people. Most of our church or other religions in other think that just living only by those standards or teachings only cause happiness, nothing else can, although many in our church and those same religions will admit life isn't always so black and white. As the Book of Mormon says, "Wickedness never was happiness." However, I don't agree with that. I'm not saying it's good to harm yourself, others, or living things in anyway. Unfortunately, there are people that feel good abusing, murdering, or taking advantage themselves, people, or animals in anyway. I'm just saying that the church, everything in the church or church scriptures, or other religions is right for everyone and in every situation. Many people seem to have found happiness even in atheism or agnosticism. Problems and traumatic experiences can also change a person perspective about happiness. Is happiness or contentment the same? Is there a difference? Does it matter? I would love to see your comments.
SIDE NOTE: As a fellow Aspie raising a daughter in very alike circumstances, I feel that there is a tendency for people with our brain wiring to link together "happiness" and "contentment" closer than most people do. In my day-to-day life, I have found that my contentment level is a first-order-approximation of how I really feel. It's only after I have established whether I am content or not that I can delve into what it is exactly that I am feeling.

One thing that I have learned in my faith transition is that most people intellectually and without thinking about it can and do separate the "gospel" - usually those actions that cultivate serving others and becoming a more ethical/moral driven person from the actual protocols, rules, and rituals that drive the community culture and organization in theory. It is only when a person starts flirting with Fowler's Stage 4 that that deconstruction becomes huge ongoing event. It gets interesting - I have conversations with my mom that she attributes my personal improvement to promptings from the Spirit, and I attribute it to ethical thinking. Intellectually, she gets it - the gospel and church are not the same - but my reality is at best a theological theoretical construct for her.

Happiness has a connotation of being the result of active efforts, and I think is more of a high-level activity. For example, the Constitution has "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: - these were active avenues when it was originally written and is still viable today. I believe that when it was originally written, it was actually "the pursuit of land" - another high level avenue of happiness at the time. That's also the high level seen in the Book of Mormon - it describes when and general principles the people were "happy" - usually serving others.

Peace was more of a passive, individual side product of seeking happiness, I think. It is my impression in the last 10-20 years, people have been shifting to pursuing peace by setting boundaries, meditation, and looking inward.

Contentment, to me, has a connotation of being and-in-the-moment thing - like the Post-Thanksgiving nap. It seems to be the culmination of happiness and peace, but less grand.

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Ilovechrist77
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 07 Oct 2020, 20:32

Thanks for the comments, everyone. Sorry for being late in responding. Interesting, informing perspectives. I was trying to copy some of the comments, but for some reason, some of the pasting is a bit messed up on my end. Oh well. Have a good night, everyone.

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SamBee
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by SamBee » 28 Oct 2020, 05:53

I wish I knew. I enjoy being with other people and miss it when I don't, but I also find people very hard work and stressful and they keep trying to pull me into their fights with each other. Social interaction is a mixed blessing.

I get happiness from natural beauty, decent art, some music and some films. I love some books as well. It is hard to put my finger on in some ways.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SamBee
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by SamBee » 28 Oct 2020, 05:57

p.s. I think the Aspergers label is going out the window and good riddance. By all accounts, Dr Asperger was a full blown Nazi, who not only stole a Soviet woman's research without acknowledgement (she was Jewish) but also worked with the German authorities, which resulted in some individuals ending up in death camps.

That plus the name "Asperger" lends itself to so many vulgar nicknames... Which makes it a terrible label to put on children.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SamBee
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Re: Happiness: What Does It Mean To You?

Post by SamBee » 28 Oct 2020, 06:00

SilentDawning wrote:
04 Oct 2020, 09:13
To me, happiness is a state of peace in which nothing bothers you. It is coupled with emotional stability -- an absence of big mood swings.
This is an extremely important point, SD. I used to confuse happiness with excitement and mania, as many people do, but that isn't right. Those highs lead to extreme lows and can't be maintained in the long term.

I think Buddha hit the nail on the head when he talked about the Middle Way. It is really about steering your boat through the middle without ending up on extremes.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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