28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
(2 Nephi 4:28-30)
In the following chapter, Nephi will tell us that he and his people “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 27:5). But in this chapter, we see how hard-fought that happiness really is. To live happily clearly doesn’t mean that happiness comes easily. In these verses, Nephi conveys his struggle to overcome anger and discouragement. Earlier in the chapter, he tells us, “When I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins.” But then he follows with a statement of hope: “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has indicated that one of the commandments we most often break is simply, “Be of good cheer.” He gave the following advice about how to obey it:
Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. As someone once said, “Even in the golden age of civilization someone undoubtedly grumbled that everything looked too yellow.”
I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring. Surely he must have said at least once, “Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.” Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse (“The Tongue of Angels,” General Conference, April 2007).
Today, I will follow Nephi’s example of overcoming negative emotions and choosing to be cheerful. I will recognize that happiness doesn’t always come naturally, and I will discipline my thoughts and my words to enable me to live happily.