I like what President James E. Faust once said, “Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than thinking in terms of a day, we perhaps need to snatch happiness in little pieces, learning to recognize the elements of happiness and then treasuring them while they last.”
While on a family trip several years ago, our five-year-old daughter suddenly said, “Daddy, I’m jealous of my sister! It’s not fair that she got a new pair of shoes to wear on this trip.”
Already I had an answer for that kind of question. “Your mother and I already bought you a new pair of shoes two weeks ago,” I declared with confidence. “Today, it’s your sister’s turn to receive a new pair of shoes.” Then she quickly returned to play with her younger sister.
A few minutes later, she came back with a startling comment. “Daddy, I cannot stop being jealous!” Suddenly there wasn’t anything charming in her comment. She was visibly upset and seemed affected by these feelings of jealousy. A rewarding experience immediately came to mind.
While I was resting in bed thinking about what could happen to my family if my condition worsened, I had trouble maintaining my usual positive nature. I had never before found myself in such a state. I was unable to overcome and control those thoughts no matter how I tried. I was troubled! Such a state of mind led me to a silent prayer asking for help from my Heavenly Father.
At the same time, a nurse came to my room and asked me a few questions for an upcoming examination. When she left the room, happy thoughts and many good family memories came to mind. Good feelings then miraculously filled my thoughts and replaced the uncomfortable feelings I previously had. I offered another silent prayer to thank my Heavenly Father for that experience. Happy thoughts had a purpose I never knew they could have.
I then explained to my daughter that when we have bad feelings, happy thoughts can help us rid those feelings. Then I asked her, “What made you feel happy recently?” She answered quickly, “When we went apple picking as a family.” So I asked her, “Tell me what you liked.”
“I liked picking apples in the trees. It was fun when you lifted me up on your shoulders. We all had a good laugh when you slipped on an apple and fell. I also liked to pick some flowers for Mom, they were so beautiful,” she replied with a grin. Happy thoughts took their place in her mind and she went hopping back to her younger sister.
A few years later as I was explaining to my youngest daughter that she could ruin her day if she continued complaining, her sister who had the experience of overcoming her feeling of jealousy made the following comment. “Dad’s right. I have learned that happy thoughts can replace bad feelings.”
President Faust also said, “Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraging thought comes into his mind, just has sense to remember in time to push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place. ‘Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.’”