LuWana Roberts, a Music Department office assistant at BYU-Idaho, gave her devotional address in front of a live crowd at the BYU-Idaho Center Tuesday. As a 33-year employee of BYU-Idaho/Ricks College, Roberts felt surprised when she was asked to speak at the second live BYU-Idaho devotional since March 2020.
“When they called and asked me, invited me I should say, to be the devotional speaker I was really shocked, okay” Sister Roberts said. “And I said ‘I think you’ve made a mistake,’ and they said ‘No, we haven’t.’ And right after I got off the phone, after I had said I would do it, happiness popped into my mind, so it was not hard to think of a topic.”
Sister Roberts’ inspiration to speak on happiness led her to share a Primary song she used to sing to her kids when they were sad. Within the hymn, the words “I am happy for the sunshine, For skies of gray or blue, For within my heart is the song of life, I’ll live, I’ll work, I’ll do” resonate with her perspective on happiness as a state of mind.
In her talk “Keys to Happiness,” Sister Roberts shared quotes from President David O. McKay. As found in the book Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay, President McKay asked, “Wherein does the secret of happiness lie?” This was his reply:
“The Savior gives us the key to it when he says: ‘The kingdom of God is within you. The power is within man to choose the right or choose the wrong. Happiness is not an external condition; it is a state of the spirit and an attitude of the mind” (495).
Sister Roberts noted that several student participants in the discussion board made this same distinction that the state of spirituality heavily affects physical feelings of happiness. As taught in the scriptures, wickedness never was happiness.
From the same text, President McKay made another point about happiness which Sister Roberts included in her talk as an important consideration when trying to live after the manner of happiness as did Nephi and his people in 2 Nephi chapter 5.
“Next to health as a means of giving happiness, I would name work. That is why Latter-day Saints are so happy. They have so much to do they have no time to think of their troubles, but better than that, they are thinking of others. They are not seeking happiness, but when they give others joy, happiness is their reward” (497).
In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Sister Roberts re-emphasized the truth of this statement by explaining the joy she has received these many years working with BYU-Idaho faculty and students. Working as a secretary brought her joy even as a young missionary in West Germany where she served as both an office missionary and a proselyting missionary.
With the understanding of happiness as a product of spiritual focus, mental clarity, charity, and hard work, happiness as a characteristic can be developed. However, without aligning our spirits with these happy efforts, it will be very difficult to experience the positive feelings we strive to have.
Sister Roberts feels she has been blessed with a happy demeanor, but she still recognizes happiness as a choice or an effort to do good things and show gratitude. Her hope is that students will leave devotional with a resolve to recognize daily the things they are happy for.