Latter-day Saint Life

Elder Uchtdorf’s 3 simple steps to experience higher joy (+ a comforting reminder for when you’re struggling)

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

“Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). This scriptural truth is beautifully simple, yet finding joy can sometimes feel complicated.

As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminded us in his April 2024 general conference talk, “Feeling sad is not a sign of failure. In this life, at least, joy and sorrow are inseparable companions.” He also acknowledged the reality of complex mental and emotional challenges, noting that sometimes seeking professional help is an important step to finding joy.

While experiencing opposition in mortality is inevitable, Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to feel joy regardless of our circumstances. Elder Uchtdorf shared three actionable ways that we can tap into this “higher kind of joy” that is our divine birthright:

“During the coming days, weeks, and months, may I invite you to:

  • Spend time in a sincere, full-hearted effort to draw near to God.
  • Seek diligently for everyday moments of hope, peace, and joy.
  • Bring joy to others around you.”

As someone who has managed depression at different points in my life, I’ve sometimes struggled with the last suggestion. How can I bring others joy when it’s difficult to feel it myself?

This talk reminded me of two comforting truths:

1) Sometimes, we need to nurture our relationship with God and make room for joy before turning outward. This often requires drawing near to Him and seeking glimmers of hope in our daily lives.

2) Bringing others joy doesn’t have to be a time-intensive process. Even small efforts can help sustain both the giver and the receiver.

Rather than an obstacle to service, pain might prepare us to empathize with and hold space for others even more. And, in the process of reaching outward, we can find greater peace ourselves.

Simple and Sustaining Efforts

Elder Uchtdorf referenced the widow of Zarephath in his talk, suggesting, “Joy is like a barrel of flour or a jar of oil that will never run out.” Even though the widow of Zarephath felt that what she had to offer Elijah was meager, simply “an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse,” the Lord magnified her sacrifice and supported them both (see 1 Kings 17:12).

Like this faithful woman, we can trust that the Lord will amplify our contributions and give us the strength to move forward. Even when our efforts feel inadequate, we can sustain others in small ways—and find personal healing and relief. As Elder Uchtdorf taught:

“True joy multiplies when it is shared.

It doesn’t require something grand or complicated.

We can do simple things.

Like praying for someone with all our heart.

Giving a sincere compliment.

Helping someone feel welcome, respected, valued, and loved.

Sharing a favorite scripture and what it means to us.

Or even just by listening.”

We don’t need to throw ourselves into elaborate service projects to multiply joy. Many of these “simple things” that Elder Uchtdorf suggested—like praying for someone or listening to them—are ways that we can “mourn with those that mourn,” even when we ourselves might “stand in need of comfort” (see Mosiah 18:9).

As we find simple and realistic ways to turn outward, even when the natural tendency is to turn inward, we work toward developing “the character of Christ.” As Elder David A. Bednar has taught:

“Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. … If such a capacity is indeed the ultimate criterion of moral character, then the Savior of the world is the perfect example of such a consistent and charitable character.”

By coming closer to Christ and seeking to be like Him, we can experience His grace and joy. We can find unexpected joy in our most difficult moments—whether we help shoulder another’s burden, allow someone to witness our pain, or even do both at the same time.

And when joy feels elusive, we can find reassurance in the promise that God is shaping us for divine happiness—today and into eternity. As Elder Uchtdorf declared, “Joy is the very purpose of God’s plan for His children. … You were built for this!”

Read what other people are saying about Elder Uchtdorf’s talk on the LDS Living Instagram account:

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