We hear much talk about prosperity and happiness in our nation today. The progressives would take the wealth away from those who have it and give it to those who do not. They believe we would all be happy if we were more equal in our circumstances. They are right about the end result but very wrong about their methods.
In my studies of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ this week, I studied about a society that enjoyed both prosperity and happiness. In 2 Nephi 5 I learned that Nephi was told by the Lord to “flee into the wilderness” to avoid being killed by his brothers Laman and Lemuel. Nephi took his supplies, his family, and all those who wished to go with him, and they moved to another area.
In their new area the Nephites “did sow seed” and “did reap again in abundance” (v.11). They “began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind” (v. 11). They made weapons to defend themselves from the Lamanites (v. 14). They built buildings and did “work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores” (v. 15). They built a temple (v. 16). They were “industrious” and did “labor with their hands” (v. 17). The Lord was with them, and they “did prosper exceedingly” (v. 11).
What does it mean to “prosper exceedingly”? Does this term apply only to tangible items or wealth? President Heber J. Grant (1856-1945) described true prosperity: “When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone…. What I count as real prosperity … is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind” (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham , 58; also cited by James E. Faust, … Ensign, Nov. 1998, 59; as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, , p. 61).
From the description given by President Grant, we now know that everyone, regardless of the amount of in the bank or stock market, can prosper by learning about God, gaining a testimony of His work on the earth, and teaching their families to do the same. Anyone with a healthy and loving family is definitely prospering.
Now let’s talk about happiness. Nephi wrote that his people “lived after the manner of happiness” (v. 27). Why were they so happy? They were happy because they were obedient to the commandments of God.
Prophets in our day have taught us how to be happy. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that we can be happy if we follow the path that leads to happiness. “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” (History of the Church, 134-35; as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 61).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) gave similar counsel: “The Lord wants us to be happy. Nephi said a great thing: `And … we lived after the manner of happiness.’ (2 Ne. 5:27.) What a wonderful thing. I want my children to be happy. I want them to do well. I want them to live well and live rightly, properly; and, in the same way, except that my Father in heaven’s love reaches beyond any power of love that I have. I think He wants His sons and daughters to be happy. Happiness comes of righteousness. `Wickedness never was happiness.’ (Alma 41:10.) Sin never was happiness. Selfishness never was happiness. Greed never was happiness. Happiness lies in living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (“Fast-Paced Schedule for the Prophet,” Church News, Apr. 20, 1996, 3; as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, pp. 61-62).
So, from the words of these great prophets, the way to prosperity and happiness is to work hard and have families while learning about God, gaining a testimony of Him and His work, and keeping His commandments. Are you on the path to happiness and prosperity? If not, what are you willing to do to start moving towards happiness and prosperity?