What a powerful article from the September 2017 Ensign:
The first 30 years of Book of Mormon history do not present a pleasant story. The hostility within the family of Lehi and Sariah became so intense that the two halves of their family split asunder, with one group fleeing yet farther into the wilderness, fearing for their lives lest they fall victim to the bloodthirsty quest of the other. As the first group plunged into unsettled terrain to seek safety and fashion a life for themselves as best they could, the prophet-leader of this Nephite half of the family says they “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27).
In light of what they had just been through for 30 years and with what we know yet lay in store for them in the trials ahead, such a comment seems almost painful. How could any of this be described as anything remotely like “happiness”? But Nephi does not say they were happy, though it is evident they were. What he says is, they “lived after the manner of happiness.” I would have you understand that there is a wonderful key in that phrase that can unlock precious blessings for you the rest of your life.
I do not think God in His glory or the angels of heaven or the prophets on earth intend to make us happy all the time, every day in every way, given the testing and trials this earthly realm is intended to provide. As President James E. Faust (1920–2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency, once phrased it: “Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
But my reassurance to you is that in God’s plan we can do much to find the happiness we desire. We can take certain steps, we can form certain habits, we can do certain things that God and history tell us lead to happiness with the confidence that if we live in such a manner, that butterfly is much more likely to land upon our shoulder.
In short, your best chance for being happy is to do the things that happy people do, live the way happy people live, and walk the path that happy people walk. As you do so, your chances to find joy in unexpected moments, to find peace in unexpected places, and to find the help of angels when you didn’t even know they knew you existed improve exponentially. Here are five ways we can live “after the manner of happiness.”
[L]earn as quickly as you can that so much of your happiness is in your hands, not in events or circumstances or fortune or misfortune. That is part of what the battle for agency was over in the premortal councils of heaven. We have choice, we have volition, we have agency, and we can choose, if not happiness per se, then to live after the manner of it. U.S. president Abraham Lincoln had plenty to be unhappy about in the most difficult administration a president of the United States has ever faced, but even he reflected that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”