Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Elder Dallin H. Oaks on having simple joy in life

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"When I think of happiness or joy in this life, I begin with some experiences that are simple and basic. I see the expression on the face of a one-year-old taking those first steps. I remember a two-year-old immersed in a soft ice cream cone. I think of a child loving a puppy or a kitten.
"If the more mature have not dulled their physical or spiritual sensitivities by excess or disuse, they can also experience joy in what is simple and basic—in flowers and other growing things, in a sunrise or sunset or other beauties of nature, in wholesome companionship.
"Another source of happiness and mortal joy is the accomplishment of worthy goals, simple things like physical exercise or more complex goals like the completion of an arduous task.
"Other goals have eternal significance. Their completion produces joy in this life and the promise of eternal joy in the world to come....
"But despite all we can do, we cannot have a fulness of joy in this world or through our own efforts. (See D&C 101:36.) Only in Christ can our joy be full."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Joy and Mercy," General Conference, October 1991
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Simple joy! What a beautiful concept. We see it in the faces of children. But sometimes the "more mature" have "dulled their physical or spiritual sensitivities by excess or disuse" to the point that they no longer experience those kinds of simple joy.

So how do we retain, or regain, the joy of simple things? Both physical and spiritual sensitivity can be recovered as it is cared for, as we focus on understanding the miracles that lie behind things that may appear to be simple on the surface, including nature and other aspects of God's creation.

Elder Oaks also teaches that we can find joy in more abstract concepts and situations including wholesome companionship, achieving goals, physical exercise, or completion of difficult tasks. But the true key lies in his final statement: fulness of joy comes only in and through the Savior Jesus Christ. As we learn of Him and accept the blessings He promises us, we will begin to taste that joy in this life, and have promises of its fulness in eternity.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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