Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Quorum of the Seventy encouraged students to make the choice to be happy in his devotional address on Mar. 8, 2016.
“I am convinced that more than anything else, our Heavenly Father wants his children to be happy,” Elder Lawrence said.
Elder Lawrence suggested that one of the ways students can find happiness is by being grateful. He said the topic of gratitude has been emphasized by Church leaders throughout Church history.
“The theme of gratitude has been addressed by every Latter-Day prophet, and more often than almost any other topic,” Elder Lawrence said. “Our inspired leaders know that being grateful leads to happiness, and they are compelled to remind us.”
One of the examples Elder Lawrence gave of gratitude told the story of Deion Branch, a professional football player for the New England Patriots. Many of Branch’s teammates used vices such as drinking to deal with the stress they felt in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
Elder Lawrence explained that instead of joining his teammates, Branch coped with the stress by calling his old coaches from junior college, high school and even “Pee Wee” teams to say thank you for teaching and believing in him.
“These phone conversations were very meaningful to his coaches, but they also invigorated Deion Branch,” Elder Lawrence said. “He felt so motivated that he played his very best, leading his team to victory.”
Another way Elder Lawrence suggested that students can seek happiness is by complimenting and looking for the good in others. He said this is a way students can truly emulate the Lord.
“Praise is a precious gift that costs the giver nothing,” Elder Lawrence said. “So if you see something, say something.”
He gave the example of one family home evening activity he and his family had carried out when his six children were growing up. Each family member took a turn sitting in a designated chair as the rest of the family listed things they admired about the person in “the hot seat.”
“We noticed that whenever we played this game, the Spirit would fill our home with love,” Elder Lawrence said.
He said in the fable Satan sells old tools such as the “Hammer of Hatred” in a garage sale because he wants to focus on using his favorite tool: the “Wedge of Discouragement.”
“The devil specializes in discouraging the faithful and those who are trying to repent,” Elder Lawrence said. “For that very reason, Church members must continually lift and encourage each other.”
Elder Lawrence explained in the end, happiness is a choice, and he encouraged BYU students to make that choice.
“Jesus votes for us, Satan votes against us, and we cast the deciding vote,” Elder Lawrence said. “It is my prayer that each of us will use our agency to choose happiness.”