In October 2002 Conference, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy told us, “Many people in this world do not understand the difference between fun and happiness. Many try to find happiness by having fun, but the two words have different meanings.”
He continued to say, “Fun is play, pleasure, gaiety, merriment, source of enjoyment, amusement, to behave playfully, playful, often a noisy activity, and teasing. Happiness is contentedness, joy, delight, and satisfaction.”
In the same conference, President James E. Faust told us, “Pleasure is often confused with happiness. Pleasure, unlike happiness, is that which pleases us or gives us gratification. Usually it endures for only a short time. Obviously, there is a great difference between feeling happy at a given moment and being happy for a lifetime, between having a good time and leading a good life.”
After reading these talks, I decided that it wouldn’t do me any good to go on a vacation to find happiness. If I want to be happy, I can find it in my own backyard. A shopping trip, or going out to dinner is not going to do the trick. There is only one thing that will work, and that is if I choose to be happy.
The pursuit of happiness is within my reach. All I have to do is choose it. I know my Heavenly Father desires that I am happy during this life. He wants me to hold out my hand and grasp the gospel teachings available to me. If I choose to obey the commandments, listen to the prophets, and attend the temple, he will take my hand and lead me to happiness.
He offers all of us the great plan of happiness – Alma 42:8 – Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.
Our Father in Heaven sent His Beloved Son to carry out the Atonement so we can be happy in this life and receive a fullness of joy. He gave us the freedom to choose and learn, and respects our freedom and independence. I know He will not force us to accept this joy. Satan wishes to deny us our independence and agency, and he opposes the freedom of choice offered by our Father. We have to choose happiness. It is not something that someone else can decide for us.