Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happiness

Spurred by a David Brooks editorial piece, They Had it Made (New York Times, 11 May 2009), Mikey and I have been having an interesting conversation over the last few days about what truly makes people happy. In his peice, Brooks cited an article published in The Atlantic (What Makes Us Happy. The Atlantic, June 2009) that reported some findings from The Grant Study (which in short is a longitudinal study of a group of Harvard students--including JFK--that began in the late 1930s, attempted to discover what makes people happy and successful).

I found the reports so fascinating. The findings were incredibly diverse and specific to each man's life, but there were some over arching themes of working through hardship and overcoming through sacrifice that seemed to run through many of the case study stories.

Again and again this week the theme of how necessary and valuable suffering is has echoed in conversation. (Which is ironic because both of us consider this time in our life one of such joy and gratitude, we hardly have a complaint beyond our lack of a kitchen sink . . .)

I keep becoming struck with the redemptive quality that suffering has. Early Fall Semester Elder Holland gave an address that likened Liberty Jail to a Temple, quoting Elder Maxwell in calling it a "prison-temple." I thought about this as I contemplated the ways that hardships are instructive and empowering like the temple is.

Today in Relief Society our lesson was on persecution and the themes surrounding why we are persecuted and how best to respond to that persecution. Honestly I've never felt persecuted for my beliefs, nor have I felt like the Church itself was under fire in the way that it was in the days of the early saints. But it was interesting and enlightening for me to be around these stalwart women who have felt persecution in their lives, whether because they're the only members of the church in their place of work, or whether they simply let their temple recommend fall out of their wallet at the grocery store.

I have consistently come to the conclusion that hardships bring us closer to the Lord. Undoubtedly. Whether a trial simply kicks us into gear in making us aware of our failings, or impairs us so severely that we have no other choice but rely on a higher power, hard things help. Too often I think people lead their lives looking to avoid the bumps in the road and seek ways to take the easy road in an attempt to make themselves happy. But what was made clear not only in the article in The Atlantic, or in the lesson this afternoon, but also through experiences in my own life, is that hard things lead to real personal triumphs and increased closeness to Heavenly Father. No effort for easiness can compare to the satisfaction of succeeding in our sorrows.

4 comments:

Elizabeth Funk said...

Hi Mike and Paige-

Paige thanks for sending me your blogspot link. This was so much fun to see what you were doing and thinking today. I also watched the tour of your little apartment, and loved going to the links on the photography exhibit you saw last week. Aren't you so glad you decided to do this? I can't imagine you could have ever, ever not gone to Washington D.C. this summer together! You are brave to have given Mike a haircut! But you'll be a pro by the end of the summer, I'm sure!

Much love,

Elizabeth

Hosander said...

thanks for this post Paige, I have been having similar experiences where I am seeing this lesson over and over. I'm not sure what I'm suffering through, but by now I have to trust that it will be worth it in the end.

Anne said...

Isn't it funny how a certain theme or idea seems to bombard you for a short period of time? Like you read an article, see a talk, and have a Sunday School lesson all on the same topic. Today in Sacrament meeting, David Long spoke about the sanctifying effect of infirmities and trials. How suffering is really a gift given to us and the Atoning sacrifice of our Savior is for all kinds of suffering. It was a masterful talk and really made me think and deepen my understanding and testimony. It's so cool to have ordinary members of the congregation; my own neighbors and friends, get up in church and every week, inspire me. Another message in his talk was that we are all here to serve and strengthen each other. To be Christian is to be like Christ.

Sarah Orme said...

Paige,

You are now officially my nytimes buddy. I love that you love to read! I found that study very interesting, and though i am not going to attempt to try to be the person that doesn't avoid the trials i am beginning to understand the concept of gleaning truth from them. I love you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...