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Is unhappiness a sin?


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It seemed the speakers at the last General conference kept repeating President Nelson's quote that happiness is 98% due to where your focus is and 2% due to what your situation is.  I certainly find the gospel comforting during bad times.  But that comfort for me comes as a hope and belief that things will be better in the future.  My understanding of the word happy was never about something that I exerted myself to demonstrate to anyone who might be watching me.  I always thought of happiness as a natural response to pleasant things that I was actually experiencing at the moment.  I certainly never expected life to be pleasant all the time.  But it's starting to seem as if we're commanded to act as if we're experiencing pleasant things all the time.  I am amazed at people living under severe illness and poverty who manage to muster happiness in spite of their current situation, but on the other hand if I were truly capable of being happy at all times regardless of my current situation, if that's really up to me alone at this moment, why would I even need the gospel, heaven, the resurrection or redemption from anything?  

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11 minutes ago, mbh26 said:

But it's starting to seem as if we're commanded to act as if we're experiencing pleasant things all the time. 

I'm not aware of a commandment that says "thou shalt never be unhappy."  On the contrary, the scriptures tell us to "mourn with those that mourn" (Mosiah 18:9.)

14 minutes ago, mbh26 said:

It seemed the speakers at the last General conference kept repeating President Nelson's quote that happiness is 98% due to where your focus is and 2% due to what your situation is

Do you have some quotes? 

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27 minutes ago, mbh26 said:

why would I even need the gospel, heaven, the resurrection or redemption from anything?  

The goal of the gospel isn’t to make us “happy” (we get into definitions here pretty quick). It’s about preparing us for something greater in the life to come.


Happiness and joy aren’t the goal, but rather it is fuel to help us get through the hard times. You also mentioned hope, and having hope is brings about happiness. And hope is a commandment (Ether 12:32). Hope is the tangible result of really believing in Christ and his message. I suppose a perfect Saint would never be sad because they have perfect hope… but we aren’t perfect. I think as we refine the hope we have in Christ, a stronger and more lasting happiness and joy will follow.

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30 minutes ago, Fether said:

I suppose a perfect Saint would never be sad because they have perfect hope

I think God can be sad.  When you look at some of the things we (His children) do to each other, how could someone with feelings not feel sad.

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1 hour ago, mbh26 said:

It seemed the speakers at the last General conference kept repeating President Nelson's quote that happiness is 98% due to where your focus is and 2% due to what your situation is.  I certainly find the gospel comforting during bad times.  But that comfort for me comes as a hope and belief that things will be better in the future.  My understanding of the word happy was never about something that I exerted myself to demonstrate to anyone who might be watching me.  I always thought of happiness as a natural response to pleasant things that I was actually experiencing at the moment.  I certainly never expected life to be pleasant all the time.  But it's starting to seem as if we're commanded to act as if we're experiencing pleasant things all the time.  I am amazed at people living under severe illness and poverty who manage to muster happiness in spite of their current situation, but on the other hand if I were truly capable of being happy at all times regardless of my current situation, if that's really up to me alone at this moment, why would I even need the gospel, heaven, the resurrection or redemption from anything?  

The focus he's talking about is on Christ, and the happiness is spiritual happiness, as in being grounded and settled in Christ, no matter your troubles or good fortune. For example:

Ephesians 3: 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the aFather of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole afamily in heaven and earth is named,

16 That he would grant you, according to the ariches of his glory, to be bstrengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being arooted and bgrounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the alove of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

And the whole Chapter of Colossians 1.

 

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1 hour ago, mbh26 said:

It seemed the speakers at the last General conference kept repeating President Nelson's quote that happiness is 98% due to where your focus is and 2% due to what your situation is.  I certainly find the gospel comforting during bad times.  But that comfort for me comes as a hope and belief that things will be better in the future.  My understanding of the word happy was never about something that I exerted myself to demonstrate to anyone who might be watching me.  I always thought of happiness as a natural response to pleasant things that I was actually experiencing at the moment.  I certainly never expected life to be pleasant all the time.  But it's starting to seem as if we're commanded to act as if we're experiencing pleasant things all the time.  I am amazed at people living under severe illness and poverty who manage to muster happiness in spite of their current situation, but on the other hand if I were truly capable of being happy at all times regardless of my current situation, if that's really up to me alone at this moment, why would I even need the gospel, heaven, the resurrection or redemption from anything?  

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"?  Is that the lesson we learn in USMC boot camp, or from stoic philosophers?  Is that the British "stiff upper lip"?

So, why is the Plan of Salvation also called the Plan of Happiness?  Is it all a matter of delayed gratification?  Or is it wrong to cry when undergoing a painful procedure?

What is Lehi's Law of Opposition all about?  Did Jesus spend all His time just laughing up a storm, even when whipping the temple money-changers?  Was Jesus telling jokes on the Cross -- just to make sure that no one thought Him unsure of His calling?  Does our intentionality make it a sin to show gravitas in the face of real life?  That is, if we don't constantly smile and laugh in the face of real but evanescent tragedy, is that a sin?  Do our tears indicate lack of faith?

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42 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"?  Is that the lesson we learn in USMC boot camp, or from stoic philosophers?  Is that the British "stiff upper lip"?

So, why is the Plan of Salvation also called the Plan of Happiness?  Is it all a matter of delayed gratification?  Or is it wrong to cry when undergoing a painful procedure?

What is Lehi's Law of Opposition all about?  Did Jesus spend all His time just laughing up a storm, even when whipping the temple money-changers?  Was Jesus telling jokes on the Cross -- just to make sure that no one thought Him unsure of His calling?  Does our intentionality make it a sin to show gravitas in the face of real life?  That is, if we don't constantly smile and laugh in the face of real but evanescent tragedy, is that a sin?  Do our tears indicate lack of faith?

“No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!” -Elder Holland

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Unhappiness is not a sin.  But it does run counter to God's plan for us.
Scripture tells us that man is that he might have joy.

And the prophet Joseph taught that "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”

But that doesn't mean we don't go through times of unhappiness.

It's true Joseph said "Never be discouraged. If I were sunk in the lowest pits of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky Mountains piled on me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top."

That same Joseph also cried out "O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?

Everyone cries out to God in their unhappiness sometimes.
Even the Savior -  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

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27 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Unhappiness is not a sin.  But it does run counter to God's plan for us.

If experiencing unhappiness is counter to God’s plan he did a very poor job with this whole mortal experience thing.

I can accept that suffering is in service to a greater future good. Sometimes just a potential greater future good.

I don’t think the world was designed so that happiness is the default. I don’t even really trust happiness anymore and it makes me nervous. In my experience it often means heartbreak and misery lie just ahead. Every silver lining is attached to a larger cloud. Luckily I am past that now. I am just very rarely happy at all so the nervousness is gone.

I also realize that it is likely my brain’s reward circuitry is an ungodly mess and I am not a good sample of the human condition. I find the alternative to be even more disturbing. If the doctors and my own reason are wrong and my brain is working perfectly than I am even more screwed up than I thought. I would really like to yank my spirit out of this body for a few minutes and figure out what is my brain and what is me but sadly that doesn’t seem to be an option.

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I like Bluebell's take on the topic.  That said, a stake president of mine once delivered the following bit of whimsical verse from the pulpit:

Quote

 

If you see the silver lining

In every cloud of gray;

If you're always smiling

Because your face just froze that way.

If you're always happy

Amidst the crowds so blue,

Then have your head examined, Bud,

There's something wrong with you!

 

:D :rofl: :D 

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There are several potential causes of unhappiness.

  • Humanity's inhumanity to our fellow humans
  • Hap crappening
  • The law of the harvest (reaping what one sows)
  • Being out of our element, far from Home: We're essentially spiritual beings sent here to have a mortal experience, not essentially mortal beings sent here to have occasional spiritual experiences
  • Related to the bullet point immediately above, sorrowing for the sins of the world, the opposite side of that coin being, perhaps, not always being able to take happiness in sin.

Perhaps the most common causes of unhappiness in "the world" are the first and the third.  Perhaps the most common cause cause of unhappiness among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth, followed closely, perhaps, by the [first part of the] fifth.

Edited by Kenngo1969
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3 hours ago, ksfisher said:

I think God can be sad.  When you look at some of the things we (His children) do to each other, how could someone with feelings not feel sad.

True 👍 I guess I no longer suppose

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57 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I don’t think the world was designed so that happiness is the default.

Not the default.  The object and design.  The goal.  The end result when the plan is followed.

Sometimes that isn't achieved in this life, but it's still where we're designed to end up.

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6 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Not the default.  The object and design.  The goal.  The end result when the plan is followed.

Sometimes that isn't achieved in this life, but it's still where we're designed to end up.

Yet so few will find it.

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I'm a big fan of Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, which tells the story of his experiences in the Nazi prison camps.  You can't exactly call what he talks about "happiness", but it's somewhere in the ballpark.  I often reflect on his experience - freezing, starving to death in a work camp as Jewish forced labor, surrounded by misery and horrors, and still he was able to have his breath taken away in awesome wonder of the sight of the beautiful mountain range.  

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7 hours ago, mbh26 said:

It seemed the speakers at the last General conference kept repeating President Nelson's quote that happiness is 98% due to where your focus is and 2% due to what your situation is. 

I'm not sure about the math, but the general idea that we can (to a large extent if not entirely) choose our focus, our perspective, the story we tell ourselves about the events in our lives, makes sense to me.   Mentally following the path of least resistance seems to lead to depression, at least for me.  

7 hours ago, mbh26 said:

But it's starting to seem as if we're commanded to act as if we're experiencing pleasant things all the time. 

I sure hope not. 

I take it as, we're being told that we have at least some CHOICE in the matter of how we feel.  We are not entirely at the mercy of external events.  

7 hours ago, mbh26 said:

if I were truly capable of being happy at all times regardless of my current situation, if that's really up to me alone at this moment, why would I even need the gospel, heaven, the resurrection or redemption from anything?  

I don't think we are expected to not need major help along the way.  But a lot of our unhappiness may be within our ability to control or at least mitigate.  For instance, we humans tend to spend a lot of time indulging in fear and/or grievances and/or whatever negative thought patterns come easily to us.  That's what I mean by choosing "the path of least resistance".  It takes EFFORT to shift our thought patterns, deliberate and consistent effort, but it becomes easier over time as our subconscious minds get with the new program, and the GOOD NEWS is that we do have (at least some) control over how we experience the events in our life.

For instance, @Kenngo1969 includes "hap crappening" in his list.  Let me suggest an alternative lens through which to see all the hap that crappens in our lives, one that encourages taking from an event the messages which are most productive and helpful for you:

"Everything that happens to me is for my best interest."

Now before anyone jumps in with a host of counter-arguments, consider this:  First, we do not really know what our own best interest is; and second, He who does has told us this same thing using different words, in Romans 8:28 and D&C 122:7.  Okay, now ya'll can jump in.

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

If it is a sin then I am so damned.

My personal opinion is that the most advanced souls are the ones who volunteer for the most difficult circumstances.  So feel free to totally ignore and reject these thoughts from an obvious beginner:

Of course you're not damned!   You are not greater than God, so you do not have the power to render unholy that which the Gods created in Their image.  You DO have the power to make an amazing array of mistakes and if necessary the Good Shepherd will leave the rest of the universe behind and come after YOU.  

Obviously I don't know your situation, but IF your paradigm is not working for you - that is, if it's not producing the results it advertises - then consider the possibility that YOUR quest isn't over yet.  

Edit:  I fumbled the quote thing but @The Nehoralso wrote:

"I would really like to yank my spirit out of this body for a few minutes and figure out what is my brain and what is me but sadly that doesn’t seem to be an option."

There are those who have spent a few minutes outside of their body who have insight into what is brain and what is "who they really are".   You can find some of their experiences on these YouTube channels.  Maybe glance through the listings and see if something interests you:

IANDSvideos - YouTube

The Other Side NDE - YouTube

NDE Video - YouTube

NDE Accounts - Afterlife Stories - YouTube

 

Edited by Olmec Donald
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3 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

There are several potential causes of unhappiness.

  • Humanity's inhumanity to our fellow humans
  • Hap crappening
  • The law of the harvest (reaping what one sows)
  • Being out of our element, far from Home: We're essentially spiritual beings sent here to have a mortal experience, not essentially mortal beings sent here to have occasional spiritual experiences
  • Related to the bullet point immediately above, sorrowing for the sins of the world, the opposite side of that coin being, perhaps, not always being able to take happiness in sin.

Perhaps the most common causes of unhappiness in "the world" are the first and the third.  Perhaps the most common cause cause of unhappiness among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth, followed closely, perhaps, by the [first part of the] fifth.

Where would you put medical issues, including chronic depression or other biochemical interference with the experience of happiness.

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13 hours ago, bluebell said:

Unhappiness is not a sin, but ingratitude is, and that's probably more what most people are talking about when they talk about how our attitude determines our happiness much of the time.  Sorrow is a legitimate and valid part of mortal life, but sometimes we are sad because we are not getting what we want and sometimes that means that we are not grateful for what we are being given.

That is where improvement can usually happen.

I've heard people advise someone suffering from depression to count their blessings as a cure.  Does having gratitude cure depression?  Or is this happiness something spiritual that I'm not distinguishing properly?  

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11 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Not the default.  The object and design.  The goal.  The end result when the plan is followed.

Sometimes that isn't achieved in this life, but it's still where we're designed to end up.

Yeah, I can totally understand the idea of achieving happiness through living gospel principles down the road in eternity.  I've always believed in that.  But I'm hearing a lot of people in the Church who seem to be saying, if you're not happy right now then you must not be living the gospel very well.  I'm not sure I agree with that.  

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One of the things I have learned/experienced lately is how I can simultaneously experience grief and pain and happiness. The Gospel and my covenant living brings me great happiness. But, I also still have challenges (health, my own imperfections, actions of loved ones) that cause me difficulty and sadness. It doesn't make much logical sense but the experience of this strange duality can't be denied. It also offers my insight into my Heavenly Parents. It is certain that our behaviors cause them great grief and they weep from time to time. Nonetheless, they also have an eternal felicity because of where and who they are. Both are true... at the same time.

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