Accepting that we have negative feelings doesn’t mean we have a bad attitude or lack faith.
As human beings, we often feel sad, frustrated, angry, or disappointed. We also hear oft-repeated advice to grin and bear it, count our blessings, or have more faith in response to our negative emotions. Has it worked? Are we happier? Did it not work? Does that mean we lack faith or have a bad attitude?
With the prevalence of the “men are, that they might have joy” mantra (see 2 Nephi 2:25), it is easy to assume there is something wrong with us when we are not happy all the time. And that unhappiness can grow if we hold too tightly to that assumption.
However, in a 2008 general conference talk called “Come What May, and Love It”—a title that reflects some advice his mother gave him—Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin speaks about the importance of experiencing various human emotions. Elder Wirthlin says, “How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not at the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.”
Elder Wirthlin proposes four beautiful ways to approach adversity without denying human emotion: learning to laugh, seeking for eternal understanding, accepting the Law of Compensation, and trusting in the Father and the Son. Each suggestion can make trials more bearable and life more enjoyable.
We all experience sorrow and disappointment. God expects us to foster positivity, but he does not require us to deny our humanity.
Read more about building positivity without denying your humanity in Joseph B. Wirthlin’s full article “Come What May and Love It.”
—Lauren Jones, Latter-day Saints Insights
Find more insights
Look into “The Healing Power of Grief” by Steven Eastmond if you want to learn more about the benefits of accepting negative emotions.
Read Kenneth H. Beesly’s article “What Is the Purpose of Suffering?” if you’re having trouble finding meaning in your trials.
Awe! What a cool thought that your emotions are human. I’ve struggled with this a lot personally (I have a lot of emotions), and it’s good to know that it’s not the emotions that are wrong, but the way that we react to things in the long run. Thanks again!