Relief Society general president shares keys for happiness

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Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, second from the right, sits during the Dec. 10 devotional. (Hannah Miner)

Students filled the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to hear from Sister Jean B. Bingham, the 17th Relief Society general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sister Bingham took the stand for BYU’s final devotional of the year. She gestured to the congregation and said she could see the light in the students’ faces and that they had great potential for future happiness and success.

Sister Bingham began her message by remarking on the interesting nature of perspectives. Various optical illusions and images of perspectives like infinite train tracks were projected onto the screen as Sister Bingham said, “Depending on our position or what instruments we use, what we are looking at seems to change — often dramatically.”

She noted that perspectives are not only physical points of view, but also attitudes toward things.

“Looking at a situation through the lens of our own experiences, we tend to suppose that our perspective is the right one and discard other viewpoints as flawed or incomplete,” Sister Bingham said.

She remarked that friends can even judge one another for choosing the wrong flavor of ice cream.

“What, you don’t think roasted almond fudge is the best flavor ever?” Sister Bingham asked, receiving a laugh from the devotional attendees. 

Sister Bingham said God’s perspective is complete and he has the perfect vantage point to know what will happen and how to help his children achieve happiness. He can help individuals in both daily and personal challenges.

“How does having an eternal perspective help us overcome these here and now personal challenges? How do we find joy while experiencing these daily and sometimes hourly trials and tribulations?” Sister Bingham asked. “Embracing an eternal perspective can play a large part in a successful earthly journey.”

She then listed four keys that she said will help students achieve happiness now and forever. 

Knowledge of and faith in God’s plan of happiness

“Understanding our divine identity is foundational to our progress and happiness,” Sister Bingham said.

Sister Bingham told students that their divine worth is solidified because of divine parentage.

She said that moving forward with confidence in God allows students to attain happiness by accepting that they may not and don’t need to know everything.

“When we know who we are, why we are here and where we want to go, we can make choices that bring the greatest happiness and avoid the most pain and anguish, both now and in the eternities,” Sister Bingham said.

Trust and confidence in Jesus Christ and his Atonement

“Trust and confidence in Jesus Christ and his Atonement is the second key,” Sister Bingham said. “When we trust the Savior and the reality of his infinite Atonement, we can progress eternally.”

She stated that when students trust the Savior and fully believe in the reality of his Atonement, they can progress eternally, thus providing an eternal type of happiness

“Knowing that our Savior has atoned for our sins and provided a perfect example of how to live in this mortal period of existence gives us great hope and reassurance that we can, indeed, become more like him, feel joy in this life and eventually return to our heavenly home,” Sister Bingham said.

Plan

The third key that Sister Bingham listed was that BYU students should develop a plan. She said she believes the plan does not need to be complex or intricate, but rather consist of simple things done each day like studying scriptures, attending the temple and serving others.

“You’ve heard it said that if you don’t have a plan, you’ll be part of someone else’s plan by default,” Sister Bingham said. “If done consistently, these small yet simple behaviors will yield great spiritual and even temporal benefits.“

Sister Bingham asked how many of the students in attendance were adults, and the majority of the congregation responded by raising their hands. 

“If the show of hands means that you are 18 years of age or older, you are correct: you are a legal adult,” Sister Bingham said. “However, recent articles suggest that many people your age do not consider themselves an adult.”

She brought up the slang phrase “adulting” and that it does not necessarily mean progression by the world’s definition of growing up. She stated that students should “grow up unto the Lord,” just like Helaman taught his sons Nephi and Lehi. That understanding should be integrated into the plan made by students as they exercise this key to happiness, she said.

“Let me tell you a secret: no matter how old you get, you will still feel the need to grow up,” Sister Bingham said. “Make a plan, and as you plan, prioritize.”

Prioritize

Sister Bingham approached the key of prioritizing by telling students to take a step back. She implored students to take the time to ask and ponder and decide what is their highest priority, and then use their time wisely based on that.

“That up close and personal check will help you know where you need to change, which in turn will focus you on the most important and most impactful choices that will bring you closer to your eternal goals,” Sister Bingham said.

She presented several examples of men and women who went through trying times and had to decide what in their lives was most important. They had the chance to waiver but didn’t.

Act in faith

“Planning and prioritizing gives us direction,” Sister Bingham said. “Acting in faith is the next step. You may be hesitant to move forward, thinking that you will make mistakes, and you are right, but stepping forward is the only way we can progress.”

Sister Bingham said that mistakes and failures can happen to everyone. Sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, it can be very frustrating.

She brought back the example of perspectives.

“Think again of train tracks. The perspective seems to narrow as they stretch into the distance, but acting with an eternal perspective is actually the opposite,” Sister Bingham said. “The more completely we live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more expansive our future becomes.”

Sister Bingham concluded with a quote from King Benjamin.

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend,” she quoted.

She promised that as students exercise these keys, plan, prioritize and act with humble faith in God’s love and in the atonement of Jesus Christ, they will develop an eternal perspective that will help anyone overcome challenges and will result in unexpected and indescribable joy.  

“You will be guided and blessed, lifted and strengthened to follow the covenant path that leads to becoming your very best eternal self,” Sister Bingham said.

Future BYU devotionals for 2020 will be posted on the university events calendar website.

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