Home Campus Devotional cover: Finding happiness through self-improvement

Devotional cover: Finding happiness through self-improvement

On Nov. 9, Elder Gary B. Sabin and his wife, Valerie Sabin, spoke at the BYU-Idaho Center about finding happiness through the gospel.

Valerie Sabin opened their joint address by emphasizing the ability of BYU-I students to learn and grow.

“I hope you will each strive to become the best version of you by making an effort to grow in all aspects of your life — spiritually, socially, and intellectually — during your time here,” she said.

She then related a story by Stephen E. Robinson about a diving competition during his childhood. While Robinson and his friends did safe dives with perfect form, another kid attempted more difficult dives with sloppy form. Even though the other boy’s style wasn’t perfect, he won the competition because of the difficulty factor.

Valerie Sabin used this story to demonstrate why we should focus on ourselves and not others — some people have harder lives than we do. However, no matter the struggle, it is possible to surpass it with God’s love, she shared. She then closed by offering her testimony of the restored gospel and of the power of self-improvement.

Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

“Remember that your personal development is important,” she said. “Only you can become who you were sent here to be. Only you occupy your unique place in life, now and in the future — as a family member, a friend, in your community, and as a contributing member of God’s restored Church.”

After Valerie Sabin’s remarks, Elder Sabin took the stand to speak more about the principles of happiness.

“As I was thinking about what to share with you today, I asked myself what would have been helpful to me when I was your age,” Elder Sabin said. “It really came down to wanting to know how to be happy and to feel joy. The prophet Nephi recorded, ‘We lived after the manner of happiness.'”

Elder Sabin explained that happiness can come by living righteously and through the knowledge that one is making their best effort.

“Peace and true happiness in life come from a clear conscience in knowing that we are doing our best,” Elder Sabin said. “It does not mean we are perfect, but that we are trying to be obedient and are not willfully doing things we know we shouldn’t. It means that if we slip, we are quick to repent. We often have problems that linger longer than they need to because we do not pay the price for our souls to rest. There is no softer pillow than a clear conscience.”

Following God’s path is the wisest course of action, Elder Sabin said.

Despite knowing that following God’s plan is best for us, sometimes the “pull of the natural man” brings us dangerously close to ruination. Elder Sabin shared that sincere prayer followed by action is the best way to deal with that.

Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

Elder Sabin then moved on to discuss the importance of scripture reading.

“If we choose not to read the scriptures, we choose to disregard the precious advantages associated with having God’s word in our possession,” Elder Sabin said. “So many answers to life’s problems are in plain view if we will only look.”

He asked students not to dismiss the gift of scripture, and to carefully ponder what they read, which “unlocks revelation.”

“We should not rush revelation, or we will often miss it entirely,” Elder Sabin said.

He shared a story of a telegraph operator who was hired after hearing a message in Morse code in a hiring office.

After pondering, the fourth principle of happiness is purity, Elder Sabin said.

“To receive peace in this life, it is essential that we are pure,” he said. “Self-mastery and purity are essential for self-esteem and happiness. The purpose of mortality is not just to gain a body but to gain self-mastery over the body.”

Elder Sabin likened living the gospel to a rocket breaking free from the atmosphere. It uses an enormous amount of energy leaving the atmosphere, but once it enters the vacuum of space, it needs a fraction of that energy to keep going.

“Eternity is at stake, and purity is the lynchpin,” Elder Sabin said. “Be pure.”

Students raise their notes to show they are prepared to be taught at devotional
Students raise their notes to show they are prepared to be taught at devotional Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

He asked students to consider what type of media they consume. Filling up one’s life with light will leave no room for evil, Elder Sabin explained, and exposing oneself to healthy media and abstaining from that which invites temptation will be beneficial to students’ spiritual welfare.

The next two principles are praise and pride, which are related.

“One of the deepest needs anyone has is to be loved and appreciated,” he said. “Be unselfish and complimentary. Be kind, thoughtful and considerate. You will change your own life and that of many others by giving a sincere compliment to someone every day. Catch them doing well. Mark Twain once said, ‘I can live for two months on a good compliment.'”

We should focus on lifting up one another instead of acting judgmental, Elder Sabin shared. Do not get caught up in seeing yourself as better than others, and try your best to demonstrate love instead of contempt.

“The irony of pride is that it makes us appear foolish, which is the very opposite of the results we’re seeking,” Elder Sabin said. “There is nothing less impressive than trying to impress. Be honest and genuine. Being ourselves is always the best and most likable course.”

Instead of listening to those whose only purpose is to bring others down, we should keep an eternal perspective. Mortality is meant to be a lesson, and we should see it as such.

“We should never trade what we want most for what we think we want at the moment,” Elder Sabin said. “It is the mess of pottage instead of the mansion in heaven.”

That doesn’t mean one can’t play, though — which is the last principle.

“It is essential to play,” Elder Sabin said. “Non-persuasive positive interaction can be more powerful than preaching. It validates one’s self-esteem when we take time for one another. … In conclusion, life is an adventure; enjoy the journey.”

He ended his talk by bearing his testimony of the effectiveness of the principles he shared in creating happiness and of Jesus Christ and God’s plan.

“I pray that we will each have similar vision, determination and courage; and thereby receive the blessings of peace and happiness during our mortal journey and eternal life in the world to come,” Elder Sabin said. “May God bless you in your efforts to do so.”

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