Music and the Spoken Word: The attribute that’s essential for happiness

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Aug. 11, 2019.

It takes only a glance at the news to know about disasters and tragedies all around the world. And it takes only a glance into our own lives to know that they happen close to home as well. Everyone’s difficulties are unique, but everyone has some. And perhaps that’s the first step toward coping and hoping: to realize that we’re not alone as we experience life’s hardships. We are all, to one degree or another, going through it together. While we might prefer to turn away from others and struggle privately, hearts heal best when they’re open. That’s when love can enter, when the bonds of friendship can bind up a broken heart. Writer James Thurber once shared this definition of love he heard from a friend: “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody” (in “Thurber,” Life, March 14, 1960).

We’re all inspired by people who choose to go through something with someone because of love. For example, a woman who was abused in her youth is reaching out to help other young women heal. Veterans are counseling others with post-traumatic stress disorder. Widows are forming support groups. They’ve all found the secret — not just to surviving, but to flourishing.

Instead of getting stuck in the idea that our suffering isn’t fair, we cope better if we realize that the world does not owe us comfort and ease. In fact, the way out of despairing over our troubles is to stop keeping score and try to bring comfort and ease to others. When we do, life improves. Our problems seem smaller and our prospects brighter. We begin to have hope again.

The 14th-century poet Hafez wrote:

Even

After

All this time

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe

Me.”

Look

What happens

With a love like that,

It lights the Whole Sky.

(“The Sun Never Says,” in The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.)

This kind of generosity of the soul is much more than just a nice idea. It’s essential to happiness. When we give from the heart, we can light the whole sky — the sky that all of us share.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), the Tabernacle Choir’s website and YouTube channel and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.