Kristen Ballou invited students to prayerfully consider these four suggestions on how to live a happier life in her devotional address.

On June 22, Kristen Ballou, a BYU-Idaho Academic Support Centers faculty member, shared four different ways to live a happier life in her devotional address, “In Pursuit of Happiness.”

As Ballou spoke, she invited students to evaluate their current levels of happiness and ponder different actions they could take in their lives to feel greater joy.

1. Deeply connect with others

Ballou explained that connectedness is a crucial part of both ongoing and eternal happiness.

She quoted Brené Brown, a social science researcher, who emphasized the power of connection in a TED Talk.

“Connection is why we’re here,” Brown said. “It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about … the ability to feel connected, is neurobiologically … how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.”

Ballou emphasized the importance of connecting with others no matter how challenging it may be at times.

“There may be risk and discomfort in doing those things, but your life will be richer because of it,” Ballou said. “When you have opportunities to interact face to face, seize the moment and engage in conversation.”

Ballou also encouraged students to be their true selves when connecting with others because that will help them develop deep and real relationships.

“When we attempt to portray ourselves as something we’re not, it requires a whole lot of energy—energy that could be used for a better purpose,” Ballou said. “We covenanted to ‘bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.’ That can only happen when we’re willing to be ‘real.’ Also, rest assured that the real you is infinitely better and more loveable than the fake you.”

2. Allow yourself to be happy

Ballou discussed how dwelling too much on the past or worrying about the future can hinder joy and happiness in the present. She compared this concept to her experience with tennis.

“I love playing tennis,” Ballou said. “A life lesson I’ve learned from tennis is it’s critical to focus on the current point—and to enjoy it. When the ball goes into play, if I’m dwelling on my weaknesses and failures from previous points or I’m thinking ahead to how great it will be if I win, it distracts me from bringing my best skills to bear on the current point—which is the only point I have any influence on at the moment.”

She also stressed the importance of keeping an eye on the ball, which equates to focusing on the Savior. She quoted President Russell M. Nelson who described the joy that comes from focusing on the Savior.

“When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening — or not happening — in our lives,” President Nelson said.

3. Forget “fair”

Ballou expressed that life is not always fair, and many circumstances can be outside the realm of our control. However, Ballou encouraged students to live in gratitude and humility instead of dwelling on things out of their control.

“What I am recommending is we not dwell on perceived unfairness in our lives,” Ballou said. “Why? Obsessing about unfairness robs us of gratitude and humility. It can lead us to harden our hearts against God.”

Ballou invited students to draw closer to God when difficulties arise rather than pushing Him away.

“To allow the Lord to consecrate unfairness for our gain requires we trust in Him,” Ballou said.

4. Trust the Lord

“We need to really, deeply, trust the Lord,” Ballou said. “This is easy to say, but hard to do when we face difficult situations. In this mortal realm, we can’t see the outcome of each circumstance. It requires faith to do as President Nelson admonished and ‘let God prevail’ in our lives.”

Ballou explained that feelings of inadequacy develop when one attempts to go through life without God’s love or help. She asked students to exercise faith in God because He knows what is best for them and can see the big picture.

“When we truly embrace the concept of grace, we can let go of our insecurities,” Ballou said. “If we trust in Him and wholeheartedly put our faith in him, He will make up for what we lack.”

Ballou invited students to consider her four suggestions prayerfully and seek the Lord’s guidance on what other actions or changes could make them happier in their daily lives.

She testified of Christ’s love and guiding hand.

“I hope you come away from this devotional with the assurance that when you feel you are drowning in despair and you can barely breathe, Christ’s hand is extended,” Ballou said. “Trust Him and take His hand.”