“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

We lived after the manner of happiness 2 Nephi 5

The Policeman writing his report and making arrest
The doorbell rang. It was mid-afternoon. Standing before us was a young man in search of his car?
He had lost it the night before. Could we help?

It seems he was unhappy about loosing it? His car. But was that all he was searching for? Surely he had the police report?  Why did he feel the need to ring our door? Was there more he wanted from us? Answers maybe to how his search for happiness the night before had ended badly?

Happiness, it seems is fleeting. Many believe it can be discovered in experiences, bought or like the "Tips for Jesus" benefactors, gifted. Very few understand that happiness is a state of being that must be cultivated, planned for and disciplined. Happiness is a discipline that must be refined within us.

So did we have answers for this young man of 19?

After crashing a raucous neighborhood party the night before, he had left for home, but had lost his way. While preparing for bed just before 1:30 I noticed him as he drove his car into our driveway.  I watched him from a window as he played on his phone and honked his horn, all the while acting very confused. Soon after I called the police he decided to drive his car around our truck and off the driveway into the trees behind our house. The police pursued him and soon all three vehicles needed to be towed out of our very muddy backyard.  This took until about 4:30 a.m.

The nice police officer who arrested him and his backseat buddy told us that they had been called to the party of nearly 500 for noise and many other sundry violations. Both of the boys were found with 2 empty Bacardi bottles and other substances of abuse. Both had no idea where they were or how they had gotten here, so when he showed up looking for the car, it was of little surprise to us that he had no memory of the previous nights activities. It appears we were not the only house he had inquired at.

The tow truck shows up 3:30 am
I thought of this young many and many like him who believe that happiness can be found in wild parties, drugs that falsely lift the emotions, or idleness. I thought of how this kind of happiness does not bring on a manner or a state of happiness that Nephi and other prophets spoke.

I noticed that Nephi sought happiness and because of the anger of his brethren he was unable to cultivate it. The Lord told him to flee and those that also believe in the "warnings and revelations of God" went with him. They went because they wanted a more lasting kind of happiness. Unlike the event or momentous happiness that most of the world seeks, Nephi and "the people of Nephi" sought a more lasting state of happiness, one that would bring prosperity and joy. (Alma 27:18)

Nephi as a student of the Old Testament would known of the Psalms or of Proverbs. He might have read:
Psalm 128: 2  For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Psalm 146: 5  Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:
Proverbs 13:3  Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Proverbs14: 21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Proverbs 16:20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.
Nephi recognized the hardness of his brothers hearts, "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." (Proverbs 28), and he realized that this would never bring happiness to him and those that worshipped God.

I realized that all men search for happiness. Even Nephi. I realized that few find it. And I realized that, like Nephi the greatest happiness has come when I have been obedient to the counsels and laws of God. (vs10). It is interesting to see how Nephi compares his lifestyle to that of his brethren. He describes how after leaving his brethren he and his people of Nephi did:

did sow seed, did reap again in abundance.  raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind. (vs 11)
build buildings, work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores (vs 15)
they did build a temple (vs 16)
industrious, and to labor with their hands. (vs 17)
priests and teachers (vs 26)

Nephi also understood the wisdom of the proverb that teaches the importance of vision: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18) Using this vision given to him of the Lord, he not only brought the records with him (vs 12) but he began to write and keep records (vs 29, 30). Records give us vision into our past and help us plan for the future.

As I thought about my state of happiness I began to realize how important Nephi's recipe of happiness is to my life. For what he teaches brings harmony and peace and cultivates talent and skills necessary for mortality.

I am happiest when I am with my family, when I have a quiet understanding of God's vision for me. I am happiest when I adhere to a daily routine that ensures cleanliness, nutrition and exercise of both my body and spirit.

Happiness is a state that we need not seek, for it will find us when we learn to cultivate it. As a genuine feeling of peace it will attract others who also have a deeper understanding of the "warnings and revelations of God."

When I take time to consider the "manner of happiness" that I have experienced in my life it all revolves around my obedience to God's laws and plan of happiness for me. I have discovered this happiness in my patriarchal blessing, in temple worship and service, in family moments where we share one another's talents such as song, or book reading or sport, in scriptural reading where revelation brings me new insights, in service to others and community, in gaining skill or education, and in doing all things that are "pleasing unto God" (vs 32).

Time lapse shot of tow truck leaving
I have discovered that the greatest happiness comes in partaking of the fruit of God, for " it is "most sweet, above all that I have ever before tasted," (1 Nephi 8:10-11)


Additional scriptures on happiness

 John 13:15-17
 Romans 14:22
 James 5:10-11
Mormon 9:14
Proverbs 28
Mosiah 2:41
Mormon 9:3
2 Nephi 9:43
Mosiah 2:41

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