My morning was filled with joy because it was an 8-bunny day!
For the two years I taught seminary at the Wheeler’s home, I left my house at 5:40 AM to drive over. At that time of the morning, I sometimes saw bunnies and deer wandering near and even across the road. Seeing them brought an immediate rush of joy. I sent up a “thank you” prayer to Heavenly Father for that moment of sheer pleasure and nearly floated into the seminary room. I know that sounds a little over-the-top, but seeing bunnies and baby deer, in particular, makes me happy. I love them and consider them a little gift to my day from my Heavenly Father.
Whenever I have one of these moments, I love to call up Heavenly Father in prayer right then and there and tell him how happy it makes me. I’m sure it pleases Him to know I appreciate His creating bunnies.
It’s important to notice that stuff, don’t you think? To notice the little things that bring us joy, and stop and acknowledge them as gifts from God.
Oprah said (yes, I’m quoting Oprah!):
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
This very moment is my life. My daily experiences—good and bad, happy and sad—are life itself. Often, I spend too much time worrying or dreaming about tomorrow, next week, next year, or the distant future, instead of focusing on the joy of the moment.
Boris Pasternak wrote:
“Man is born to live and not to prepare to live.”
Feeling joy in our daily lives can be learned and practiced like any other skill. It begins by becoming aware of our actions and reactions. As I go about my day, I need to consciously notice Fall leaves turning from green to mustard, burnt orange, rust and ochre brown; listen to music I love and sing along with familiar tunes; smell the salt water carried in the breeze from the ocean; savor ice cold lemonade on a humid summer day. Write with my favorite pen on thick rich paper I have saved for something special; buy or pick fresh flowers to have in my office or home; take photographs of family and friends to frame and display. Kiss my husband and dance in the kitchen; hug my friends; turn off my cell phone and be still. Be present. Experience the moment. Carpe Diem—seize the day!
The Lord has said: “Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice…” (D&C 25:13). As followers of Jesus Christ, we have so much to be joyful about.
Joy is bigger than contentment, more intense than gladness—it is a feeling so vast that it almost overwhelms you. Ultimate joy is a sensation of well-being that comes from exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and obeying God’s commandments.
President Thomas S. Monson said:
“Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family.” (GC, Oct. 2008)
We were all present at the great council in heaven when the wondrous plan of salvation was unveiled. The scriptures say, “the morning stars sang together,” and we “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). We would be given the opportunity to come into mortality and strive to achieve a “fulness of joy.” Think of the celebration that must have ensued: imagine your merriest Christmas, happiest birthday, most delightful New Year’s Day and festive Fourth of July combined, then multiply that by a zillion times and the level of joy was still more wondrous.
Heavenly Father desires us to achieve the ultimate joy that will come through exaltation. As we are striving to achieve that goal, He wants us to be happy and to experience joy in our daily mortal lives.
He has told us, “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Notice that God did not say they must have joy or that they will have joy, but that they might have joy.
Our Father in Heaven wants us to have joy—but it is our choice to want it enough to do what is required to obtain it, and to notice it when it arrives and be grateful for the small things.
David Steindl-Rast said:
“It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
I must stop viewing life as a long, hard, uphill climb and start enjoying the adventure of the journey: revel in a sunset with someone, listen to a family member, laugh with a friend, sing a duet, dance with someone, read to a child, play a game of catch, telephone my mother, share my testimony, live joyfully!
I recently started getting up at 5:50 AM so that I can be out of the house around 6:00 to walk my hilly neighborhood. This started out as a task to help me regain some small degree of fitness, but it has turned into a search for joy in the form of bunnies discovered along the way. Today, I tied my morning record of seeing 8 bunnies.
On these walks, I often talk with my Heavenly Father; telling Him of the many things I am grateful for, including, how much joy I feel when I see these delightfully furry creatures with their long expressive ears. In these moments, I consider how wonderful it will be one day, to tell Him in-person. And sometimes, I daydream that someday I will learn how to create them myself. What ultimate joy that will be!
Marianne Williamson said:
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
I feel joy when: I look at the “Who Is Your Hero?” posters of my scripture heroes hanging on my office wall; when Kevin brings me roses from Fresh Market; when I receive an email or text message from one of my nieces or nephews, a former seminary student or friend; when I sing Christmas carols throughout the year with my own made-up lyrics; when it’s cold, gray and rainy outside and Kev makes chili; when Cory quotes something from one of my letters back to me; when I smell peppermint or vanilla; when I crack myself up laughing at my own odd sense of humor.
Isaiah counseled: “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph,” (Isaiah 47:1). There is so much joy to be recognized every day if we are open to receive it.
When Brenna, one of my students, spoke at seminary graduation, she shared about my excitement over seeing bunnies some mornings. I know some people thought she had a crazy-lady for a teacher, but I was happy to hear that she remembered how enthused and grateful I was for the bunnies and other little gifts from God we receive daily. I hope she will always remember that about me.
Charles Dickens wrote:
“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”