Finding Joy & Avoiding Regrets

Hey y’all! This is the text of the talk that I gave in church yesterday. It’s about…..well actually you can read it! And about the feature image….I needed a horizontal photo that hadn’t been used yet.

— Lisette

This message has been approved by Vanessa Oler.

Good morning! Let’s start off with a few questions:

  • Did you notice the small things yesterday, like the warmth of the sun or the wind in your hair?
  • Did you tell your family you loved them? Your friends you appreciated their friendship?
  • Did you worry about something that is in the future?

If you are like me, then you probably worried about something in your future and didn’t notice the warm sun or maybe you forgot to tell your parents or siblings you loved them. All of us at one point or another have done or forgotten to do the aforementioned things.

That brings me to two General Conference talks that I think go beautifully hand in hand. The most recent one being President Uchtdorf’s talk entitled “Of Regrets and Resolutions” from this past conference and the second one being “Finding Joy in the Journey” which was given by President Monson in October 2008.

In President Uchtdorf’s talk he tells us of three regrets the terminally ill usually have:

  1. The wish they had spent more time with the people they loved.
  2. They wish they had lived up to their potential.
  3. They wish they had been happier.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines happiness as a “state of well-being and contentment”. But do we actually ever realize that we are happy in the moment or are we, as President Uchtdorf said “…caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness…” I would say both. There are times when we are saying to ourselves “I can’t wait to get a job and get married, and then I’ll be happy,” and then there are times when we are perfectly content with what we are doing at the time and who we are with. I think, no I know, when we find those moments that’s when we are truly happy.

With that being said, happiness is not just being happy with where we are but where we can go. A well known poet by the name of William Butler Yeats once said, “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

That may sound contradictory, it did sound so to me when I wrote it, but if you think about it, we are constantly growing therefore we have the possibility of being constantly happy.        We are “in charge of our own happiness” whether we are growing at the time or not.

I wish I had handled change better. Change is not one of the regrets President Uchtdorf mentioned but one I have added from my experience, do keep in mind I’m not dying, but I think it still applies. In President Monson’s talk he says “Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.” He said changes can be sudden, like the passing of a loved one, but most of the time the changes are subtle and slow. I’ve come to know that the lessons we learn from the changes in life are some of the most profound. I’ve learned that when I don’t have my sister to lean on because she is on a mission, I have the Lord. I’ve learned that some friends leave because they were meant to be a part of a certain time in my life. These lessons, as President Monson says, “are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.”

President Monson also said a few paragraphs later that “stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances,” and that those stresses, those changes, bring to light the important stuff which is usually the people around us. Our friends. Our family. We should tell them we love them. We should tell them that we appreciate what they do for us. And we should spend quality time with them.

That brings me back to one of the regrets that President Uchtdorf spoke of. Not spending more time with the people they loved. Last year for Christmas my grandmother gave my family the opportunity to go to her time share in New Braunfels.

Now if you don’t know anything about New Braunfels, you should know that it’s more of a summer town where floating the Guadalupe River is what one does there, but as I said we were going there for Christmas. Knowing that it was a summer town, we were at a loss for what to do during the colder months of the year when floating the river was not an option.

My mom wasn’t too keen on going but she decided that she was going to be happy whether she liked it or not. When we she found out that she would have a Nook to take with her she was ecstatic. Now she could sit in the cabin and read while my dad and I went off to explore the near empty New Braunfels.

One day we decided to go to the Natural Bridge Caverns a few miles away and drug mom along. Needless to say my mom wasn’t too happy about that, and she was resolved to sit on the surface while my dad and I went on the tour beneath her. Eventually she caved and decided to come down with us. As she tells me, she was really happy about that decision because she was able to see my dad and I in all of our photographing glory.

It was one of the best family vacations we had ever taken. We were able to spend time with just the family. There wasn’t anyone calling to come over or ask us to help move someone. It was just us and there was no expectation that we did anything terribly productive.

President Uchtdorf said “Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories.” Think of the memories that my mom would have missed if she had stayed on the surface instead of coming into the caverns with us.

In closing, let us choose now to be happier, to accept the changes thrown our way and to spend more time with the ones we love. I promise you that by spending time with loved ones and accepting change, you will be happier. I also promise you that when you come to the point in your future where someone asks you “Did you find happiness?” you will be able answer with a resounding “YES” instead of a regretful “No”. I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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