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Music & the Spoken Word: The joyful work of love and service

Love and service go together — and ‘the more love in our hearts and in the world, the more happiness we’ll find,’ Lloyd Newell says

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 Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023.

Not long into our search for happiness, we find that not all kinds of happiness are the same. Some of it is superficial. Some of it is short- lived. And then there’s a kind of happiness that’s deep and long lasting. An old Chinese proverb puts it this way: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody” (see “The Secret to Happiness Is Helping Others,” by Jenny Santi, Time, Aug. 4, 2017, time.com).

It might be hard to find the time for an hourlong nap or a day of fishing. And few of us will inherit a fortune. But all of us can find a way to help someone else. That’s the beauty of the most profound and enduring happiness — it’s available to each of us.

Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul shared timeless words of counsel: “By love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). So, love and service go together: If we love people, we’ll serve them; if we serve people, we’ll love them. And the more love in our hearts and in the world, the more happiness we’ll find.

The results are extraordinary, but the act of service doesn’t need to be. In fact, the work of love usually happens simply, quietly, one person at a time. For example, just this week, someone left flowers from her garden on the front step of a friend who was ill. It was a simple but meaningful act of love, and it put a smile on at least two faces — the giver’s and the receiver’s.

That’s another beauty of this kind of happiness: not only does it reach deep and last long; it also spreads far — from an individual to friends and family to a neighborhood where people help one another. Creating a society, a worldwide community, that truly cares for others begins with each one of us.

It usually takes some time and effort to help someone in need. It might even be inconvenient. But the price is always small compared to the deep-down, lasting happiness it produces. It’s a joyful work that brings a lifetime of happiness.

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