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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Roach

Happiness Does Not Matter

Happiness does not matter. Only Joy counts.

God wants you to be Holy, not happy.

Happiness is consumeristic and selfish.

Happy comes from "happenstance" and that is based on your circumstances, you better not even want it.

God doesn't care about your happiness.

This is what I was taught abotu happiness as an Evangelical Christian.

It's not that Evangelical Christians are not happy - lots of them are. It's that happiness is not a theological category for them. It's not something you are supposed to pursue. If by chance you are happy, fine. But don't spend resources that could be spent elsewhere on it. Never mind that the Bible seems to care about our happiness ("God gives you the desires of your heart" "Blessed are those who...")

One of the initial attractions of Mormonism for me was that happiness is allowed, encouraged, and something God uses to guide us. It's very biblical. And I can't get enough of it. In fact, what Evangelicals might call "The Plan of Salvation" they call, "God's Plan of Happiness."

Warning: I have 2 masters degrees. 1 in divinity (MDiv) and 1 in counseling. I totally geek out when the two intersect. Here we go...

Feelings matter. I'm a psychotherapist and every single day I teach people why they have emotions, what their emotions are doing for them, and how to know when to follow them, and when to correct them. The emotion of happiness is a powerful guide. It acts as a beacon to light the path toward something good. Should we always follow the path? Of course not. Sometimes what makes us happy can lead to terrible results, in which case we must act opposite of the emotion. The facts don't always support our emotion, or acting on it may deter us form a long-term goal. But if the facts fit, and the emotion supports a long-term goal, you have the green light to act on them. Not acting on happiness when the facts fit, and when it helps to reach a goal, would be crazy-making (I'm looking at you Evangelicals.)

And yes, of course I know that not every LDS person is happy. Some are downright miserable. And some have had heart-wrenching experiences in the church. I'm talking about happiness as a theological category. I am extremely grateful to come into a system that has a place for it.

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