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Happiness is an Inside Job

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Several weeks ago, out of nowhere, my happiness vanished. One day I went from being perfectly happy to feeling completely empty. I hadn’t done anything different, I hadn’t changed anything, and one thing was certain–I did not deserve it. At any rate, it was gone. For no reason at all it was sucked out of me and I felt sort of like a deflated balloon; barely floating above the ground. I struggled to pretend I was okay, but inside I was screaming for help. Within a week I started walking around with tightness in my throat that would sometimes move to my chest. I feared the worst, as I felt the beginnings of an anxiety attack approaching.

“I’ll just pretend my happiness is here”, I thought one day as I was getting ready. I had a million things to do and my family and friends around, but for whatever reason felt sad and alone. I knelt and prayed {I prayed a lot}. Nothing was giving me my happiness back. “I need a rescue, I need someone to recognize this pain I am living right now, I need someone to validate my existence.” But that was not the answer, deep down I knew what would help me. As I resisted going there I thought, “Why am I always the one who has to reach out to people, show kindness and do this and that for them? When is it my turn to have someone do the same for me? When is it time for a someone to ask me how I am doing? Why does it always have to be about someone else? Why don’t people text me first, call me first, or invite me first?” Life just wasn’t fair.

I decided to listen to a talk from General Woman’s Conference {as I often do while getting ready each day}. The talk was given by Cheryl A. Esplin and titled, He Asks Us to Be His Hands. While listening to her words I knew I had not chosen that particular one by accident. It was an answer to my prayer and was the reminder that I needed. Even though I felt like badly, had my own house to clean, was exhausted from not sleeping well, and had to pack to leave on a trip the next morning, I knew what to do. And it wasn’t any of those things. I text one of my best friends and asked her if she needed help getting part of her home packed and cleaned out to list and put on the market. She replied, “YESSS”.

So off I went and I did what I do best, offer service. Three of us friends were there. We laughed, enjoyed conversation, and worked together getting things done. I was even prompted to have the missionaries called over to help carry everything down into the garage. I felt the spirit and I knew I was doing what I was supposed to be doing that afternoon.

Instead of being sad, lonely, grief-stricken, and wallowing in the sadness that had overcome me–I was serving the Lord. Here I was helping someone who really needed my help. And it felt good. It felt so good that something beautiful happened. My happiness came back that day. With my cup refilled I then had the energy to come home and do everything that I needed to get done before leaving on my trip.

I’ve suffered bouts of depression before and I am not new to this. Each time I learn over and over that it is through the healing balms of service where I can find myself again. I also learn that life isn’t about me. It’s about the people’s lives I can bless and help in little small ways. I don’t have to do huge things, but the least I can do is to share the talents that Heavenly Father has so graciously given me. These talents can ease other’s burdens and hopefully in some little way make a difference in their lives. I know when I freely share them it makes a huge difference in mine. Because, after all, happiness is an inside job.

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