Be of Good Cheer

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Radiate Cheerfulness and Enthusiasm

How delightful it is to be around people who radiate cheerfulness and enthusiasm! These qualities are contagious. The Spirit comes through with greater power and influence in the presence of those who are of a cheerful disposition than those who aren't cheerful.

A recent convert described how she was lifted spiritually by the cheerfulness she observed in the missionaries who taught her: "They always seemed to be so happy. I knew there must be some connection between what they believed and the contentment that was so obviously a part of their lives. I was never around people who smiled so much. I wanted more than anything to share such happiness. Since my baptism I'm coming to know more about true happiness, especially since I received the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Think of the people whom you'd most like to be like. They are not likely to be those who are always complaining or who are glum, despondent, discouraged, unhappy, or depressed. Just as we don't like to be around grouchy people, neither, apparently, does the Spirit. Spirituality is rarely cultivated in such an atmosphere.

In literally dozens of scriptures, the Lord counsels us to "be of good cheer."

The Lord does not say, "Be of good cheer if the temperature is comfortable, if you're getting along well economically, if the people you love love you, or if you're in good health. The Lord said that we should "be of good cheer." It is not a suggestion—it is a commandment. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between being cheerful and reaping the richest spiritual blessings.

If by nature you are not happy, perhaps you should analyze yourself to find out what the problem is and then correct it so that you can be of good cheer and thus enjoy the Spirit more fully.

Start with your outward expressions. Let your face know you are happy. Smile. Although mere appearance is not the final solution, you can at least begin there. Smiling regularly and looking happy are very important for our spiritual well-being.

A missionary convinced of the importance of appearing happy shared this experience: "To illustrate how important a smile can be in missionary work, our mission president asked my companion and me to try an experiment and return to the home of a woman who had really given the preceding pair of missionaries a rough time. She was so upset that she had practically shoved them off the porch. We went to the same door, with instructions that regardless of what the woman said this time, we were not to say anything at first, but would just smile. When the woman came to the door, she recognized who we were, and I think she was more upset than before. But we just smiled. She told us that she didn't want any of our literature, that we ought to get out of the city, that we shouldn't be bothering people—and through it all we continued to smile. After this had gone on for several minutes, she stopped, hesitated, and finally said, 'Oh, come on in.' We went in and taught her the gospel. A few weeks later, she was baptized into the Church."

Obviously, a conversion will not be made every time someone smiles, but a lot more people would catch the spirit of the gospel if missionaries and all other members of the Church were to smile and be of good cheer.

Smiling and sharing the outward appearances of happiness are important, but you must strive to become genuinely cheerful if you are to achieve and maintain rich spirituality over a period of time.

Becoming genuinely cheerful is not always easy because unhappiness, grief, misery, disappointment, discouragement, despondence, and depression do come into our lives. Things don't always go along well, and as a result we may not always be happy or feel much like smiling. Yet everyone can smile honestly and be happy even on those days when things don't seem to be going well. Here's a suggestion that can literally change
your life for the better:

Take a blank sheet of paper (perhaps one in your personal journal so you can find it and enjoy reading it years from now) and write on it all of the things for which you are most grateful, in whatever order they come to your mind. Then, on another page, put all of these blessings in the order of their importance to you, writing the most important blessing first and then on down the list.

In all likelihood the blessings you list as most important to you are so valuable that you would pray for the courage to die rather than to lose them—such blessings as your faith and testimony of the reality of the existence of your Heavenly Father and your Savior, Jesus Christ; the restoration of the gospel; family and loved ones; freedom; and friends. In fact, it is amazing how far down most lists one has to go before he finds anything that money could buy. The most priceless blessings are really without price. We are all so blessed, and remembering that makes it easier for us to be happy.

Then, when days filled with discouragement come and you feel least like smiling, think of the list of your many blessings, and you will still be happy. You can literally come to feel better physically as well as emotionally. If you are happy, smiling, and cheerful, the sweet, comforting influence of the Spirit will come into your life in greater abundance. The next time you sing the words to this hymn, pay special attention to the message:

"When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end."

Counting blessings will make you happier and lift your spirits. Your life is intended to be filled with joy, for "men are, that they might have joy."

According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."

Spirituality accompanies an attitude of cheerfulness, and with it we are assisted to achieve ultimate happiness. The gospel contains "glad tidings of great joy" and is designed to bring the Spirit into everyone's life in greater measure. Therefore, if you do not feel you are a happy person by nature, make changes where necessary. Count your many blessings. Become the genuinely cheerful person around whom others and especially the Spirit, will enjoy being present.

From the book:  To Grow In Spirit, by Joe J. Christensen, General Authority,  former Pres. at MTC., 1983.