Thursday, February 11, 2016

Heber J. Grant on happiness and growth through acts of kindness

President Heber J. Grant (1856-1945) was ordained an apostle in 1882 when he was 25 years old.  He served as president of the Church from 1918 until his death in 1945 at age 88.  His tenure as president lasted over 26 years; only Brigham Young had a longer term (over 29 years).
"Every kind word spoken gives you greater ability to speak another. Every act of assistance rendered by you, through the knowledge that you possess, to aid one of your fellows, gives you greater ability to aid the next one. Good acts grow upon a person.
"I have sometimes thought that many men, judging from their utter lack of kindness and of a disposition to aid others, imagined that if they were to say or do a kind thing, it would destroy their capacity to perform a kind act or say a kind word in the future. If you have a granary full of grain, and you give away a sack or two, there remain that many less in your granary, but if you perform a kind act or add words of encouragement to one in distress, who is struggling along in the battle of life, the greater is your capacity to do this in the future.
"Don't go through life with your lips sealed against words of kindness and encouragement, nor your hearts sealed against performing labors for another. Make a motto in life: always try and assist someone else to carry his burden. The true key to happiness in life is to labor for the happiness of others."
- Heber J. Grant, "Have a Purpose in Life," Improvement Era, Feb. 1902, 289–90

I love this analysis of human behavior. Surely we don't really believe that we have limited amounts of kind words and deeds to dispense, so we must guard them frugally; but President Grant said we sometimes act like it! The interesting witness he offers echoes one of the themes of his life: things we persist in doing become easier to us because our ability to do them grows. The more we speak kind words and do kind deeds, the easier those things become for us.

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