One day I walked into the room just as one of my young sons punched his little brother in the nose. I immediately began a lecture.
“In our home, we don’t hit each other. When we feel mad, we talk about it,” I said, placing my hands on my hips.
My young son obviously felt bad about what he’d just done and even worse about getting caught. He lowered his eyebrows and in a frustrated voice asked, “Why did we have to come down from heaven anyway?”
“When you were in heaven you were so excited about coming to earth, you shouted for joy,” I answered.
My young son lowered his eyebrows again, squished up his lips and thought for a moment before he replied, “Yea, well if I did, I was just teasing.”
He expressed well what many of us feel like when faced with yet another problem. We wonder - What was I thinking? I shouted for joy for this?
Yes! Though life can be difficult, it helps to remember that we actually signed up for mortality with enthusiasm. Everything we experience in this life gives us the opportunity to develop character. The person we become because of our experiences is the only thing we take with us when we die. Since none of us are going to get out of this alive, we might as well make the best of things while we’re here. Making the best of all our personal circumstances is the formula for developing a healthy attitude.
Paradoxically heaven didn’t have the requisite misery and pain for us to experience a fullness of joy. In heaven we couldn’t have children and “would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for (we) knew no misery; doing no good, for (we) knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that (we) might have joy.”(2 Nephi 2:23-25)
Wow! So we’re here to experience joy - and we can’t experience joy without experiencing misery and pain. That pretty much sums up the point of life. We’re here to gain knowledge, understanding, and personal experience through both joy and pain. There are certain character traits we develop only through difficult circumstances, such as patience, wisdom, unselfishness and love. In this life all things have their opposite - good and evil, virtue and vice, light and darkness, pleasure and pain, life and death. We all have difficult experiences to deal with. We have no control over many of the circumstances in our life, but we do have control over the person we become and the character we develop because we have the master controls over our attitude.