These are my personal lesson notes from Gordon B. Hinkley’s teachings on cutlivating an attitude of happiness and a spirit of optimism.  These notes are intended to give you an overview of my lesson and a potential outline for you to use.  The personal stories are my own.


How many people have felt stressed out by school or work or trying to follow through with their new years resolutions?

I want everyone to go around the room and say your name and 1 thing that makes you happy.

(My example: listening to podcasts while I run on the treadmill)


This lesson comes from the life of Gordon B. Hinckley and is on cultivating an attitude of happiness and a spirit of optimism.  Now, I don’t know about you but whenever I think of Gordon B. Hinkley he is always smiling.

“In all of living have much fun and laughter, life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”

  • Gordon B. Hinkley


Even when many people are negative and pessimistic, we can cultivate a spirit of happiness and optimism.


How can we cultivate a spirit of happiness and optimism when people are negative around us?

  1. Smile at everyone – Everywhere I go, airports when I travel, walking around work, to restaurant waiters, everywhere, I smile at anyone in my line of sight. There are a lot of people who have a lot of reasons to be negative but they often can’t be negative, at least around you, if you’re smiling at them.  It automatically creates a happier environment for you and everyone else.
  2. Stay close to the spirit – Heavenly Father’s plan is a plan of happiness. When we come to church, read our scriptures, serve others, do things that line up with the gospel and the teachings of Christ, we can’t help but to stay optimistic.


“There is a terrible ailment of pessimism in the land.  It’s almost endemic. We’re constantly fed a steady and sour diet of character assassination, faultfinding, evil speaking of one another… I come with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.”

Heavenly Father’s plan is one of happiness. We just have to remember to make the most of it.


Rather than dwell on our problems, we can let a spirit of thanksgiving guide and bless our lives


Give out gratitude journals


They say that if you write down three things that you are grateful for every single day, that you’ll be happier.  You’ll start to realize all of the wonderful things that you have.  So, I want you to turn to your neighbor and tell them three things you’re grateful for today.  For example:   

Family, NPR when I drive to work in the mornings, my dad taught me to ride a unicycle when I was 12

Gordon B. Hinckley talked about all of the wonders that we have in our lives, especially when we let a spirit of thanksgiving guide us.


Personal Story: I went through a period at work where I was so incredibly frustrated all the time because I felt like I deserved more. I drove myself crazy by making work the center of my life and all I thought about was work and how I deserved more than what I was given.  

Now, my work does this cool thing where we get a day off of work to go skiing and they give us passes to go skiing anywhere we want to.  So I took my mom up to Deer Valley and the sun was shining and we were having a great time.  And to fully understand this story you have to know that my dad lost his job during the recession for nearly a year and my parent’s paid for everything from their retirement fund.

But anyway, while we were on the ski lift my mother and I were talking and we were having such a good time and she just said to me, it is so nice that your work gives you these ski passes and you are so lucky to have a job right now because so many people, especially your age don’t.  And while I had been so caught up in complaining about my job I forgot to realize how great I actually have it.  I’ve started my career out of college in my field, I’m making good money and I have some cool perks that come along with it.  Plus, I have an amazing family that supports me all the way.

This is the spirit of thanksgiving that I was missing and as soon as I found it I was suddenly so much happier and i felt so blessed.

Does anyone else have an example of when a spirit of thanksgiving blessed their lives?


The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us a reason for gladness.

Can anyone tell me what gospel means?  (good news)

Since we know that the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us a reason for gladness, it’s good news, let’s turn to the scriptures to hear about it.


Write these scriptures on the board:

D&C 25:13, Mosiah 2:41, Ether 12:4


Can I have a few volunteers to read each of these?

D&C 25:13

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.”

Mosiah 2:41

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true’ for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Ether 12:4

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

People often bring up the wars and struggles that are in the scriptures but there are a lot of examples of happiness that comes from the gospel.  Why is the gospel good news to you? Why do you rejoice when you keep your covenants with God?

One of my favorite quotes ever, is actually a Gordon B. Hinckley quote and it’s in this lesson! And I feel like it really describes how we should live our lives.

“In all of living have much fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”

– Gordon B. Hinckley

Life is to be enjoyed! Sometimes we get so caught up in the negativity around us or the trials of our lives but Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy the lives that he has given us.  We are so blessed, so lucky and we should make the most of the lives that we have.


The gospel is a message of triumph to be embraced with enthusiasm, affection, and optimism.

Can I have a volunteer read the last four paragraphs of section 4 in the manual?

“Well was it said of old, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”  There is no place in this work for those who believe only in the gospel of doom and gloom. The gospel is good news. It is a message of triumph. It is a cause to be embraced with enthusiasm.

The Lord never said that there would not be troubles. Our people have known afflictions of every sort as those who have opposed this work have come upon them. But faith has shown through all their sorrows. This work has consistently moved forward and has never taken a backward step since its inception. …

… This is the work of the Almighty. Whether we as individuals go forward will depend on us. But the Church will never fail to move forward. …

When the Lord took Moses unto Himself, He then said to Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Josh. 1:9). This is His work. Never forget it. Embrace it with enthusiasm and affection.27

Does anyone have an example they would like to share about someone embracing the gospel with enthusiasm and optimism?

Personal story: I never went on a mission but I took the missionary lessons with three different friends over the years.  The last person I took them with is my boyfriend and I’ve shared this before but he was baptised this past August. He didn’t take to the gospel quickly because at first he felt like he needed to know everything about it before he could decide if he wanted to convert.  Luckily, God puts angels in our lives and the missionaries that were teaching us helped him understand that the gospel isn’t just books to be read, itis a spirit to be close to and a feeling that we can have with us always.  It is an optimism that we can have because we know about the deep meaning of our lives and families and David has become my constant reminder to remain positive because of all of the blessings that Heavenly Father has given us.

Follow up question: If we become discouraged, how do we find our optimism again?


With knowledge that we are all children of God, we can stand a little taller, rise a little higher, and be a little better.

We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love him.  I think that we sometimes forget our divine nature as daughters of God and we can forget our worth. We are everything to our heavenly father and he will never leave us alone.  That fact in and of itself helps me stay optimistic while navigating my trials.

“In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those he loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)

These great words of confidence are a beacon to each of us. In him we may indeed have trust. For he and his promises will never fail.”

I know that this gospel is one of happiness and good news. Our lives are happier and more thoroughly enjoyed through living the gospel and sharing it with those around us.  I challenge each of you to keep track of your blessings and you’ll notice how uplifting it can be.  You are wonderful and you are loved.

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.