Finding Peace, Happiness, and Joy, by Richard G. Scott
Reviewed by Catherine K. Arveseth
Not About Theory but Truth
Most bookstores devote entire sections to authors convinced they have the solution for inner peace, a sense of self, or the key to real happiness. These books may, of course, have elements of truth, but in reality, most are theory, ideas, or suggestions.
Alma’s cautionary counsel came to mind as I was reading. “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments” (Mosiah 23:14). Elder Scott, an Apostle of the Lord, is in every way a man of God. His trusted teachings center around the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and the path He and Father have designed for our spiritual success and eternal well-being.
Elder Scott wrote this book for widely differing audiences. His counsel is for everyone. Written in true humility, Elder Scott says he “prayed and pondered to carefully prepare [the book’s] content” (xii). If you love Elder Scott, as I do, for his warmth and tender encouragement, you will find yourself very much at home in these pages.
Elder Scott has written the book to be “as close to a mentoring experience” as he could make it. He writes, “I have sought to write these things as though the two of us were alone together in an open and frank discussion of truth” (xiv).
When you read, you will feel as if you are sitting down with him in a private setting. The questions he asks, the way he seems to read your mind, his sincerity and belief in you as a capable spiritual being are all very powerful. Finding Peace, Happiness, and Joy is a most valuable book. It is an excellent guide for those who have loved ones facing the long road of repentance. It is also a masterful discussion on how to obtain the Spirit as our ultimate guide.
The Lord wants us to identify ways we can improve our measure of happiness. “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). We are also to aid each other in negotiating life’s challenges. Most of us have someone we care about currently wandering in sinful paths – searching for ideals in all the wrong places, continuing to struggle and falter. This book is for them. It is also for you.
The Sole Purpose
The sole purpose of this book is to help you, or one you love, find peace with happiness and joy in an ever more challenging world .. .Should you find yourself in a pattern of life you neither enjoy nor want, these pages give suggestions that will lead to peace and happiness. Should you feel that you have made irreparable mistakes, you will learn how to overcome those challenges.
This book…can serve as a resource to you who are struggling to help a loved one, perhaps a son or daughter, a companion in marriage, an extended family member or close friend who has wandered into errant paths. It describes how the Lord can aid any who are driven by destructive appetites or addictions, helping them begin to shake themselves free of those debilitating habits. The chapters discuss doctrines and principles that have proven effective in transforming a life from tragic disappointment to one of peace and abounding joy (xiv).
The preface to Elder Scott’s book begins with this statement. It grabbed my attention immediately and hung in the night sky as an orb of light – a hope for anyone who is struggling with what to say to their loved one who needs the Lord’s help. Elder Scott writes that we “help others, not because it’s easy, but because it’s right” (206).
So often, in difficult situations, we wish we had more answers, more of “the right things to say,” more we could do. Elder Scott reminds us again and again that the Spirit is the supreme teacher. He will guide us (and our loved one) in every situation. But we must learn how to listen and heed and record what He whispers. When we do, we can be more effective as an instrument for the Lord.
Elder Scott’s book will help you better understand the Lord’s ways, as well as the ways of the adversary. This is key to helping others see through correct lenses and true perspective. Of Satan he writes, “[He] would convert divinely independent spirits into creatures bound by habit, restricted by appetite, and shackled by transgression. He has never deviated from his intent to enslave and destroy” (12-13).
Of the Lord’s ways, Elder Scott writes, “Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or that of those you love” (91).
Elder Scott shares personal experiences, powerful analogies, and applicable scripture to teach these truths. His years of counseling with broken, repentant hearts are of obvious inestimable worth. Here are some of the chapter topics He discusses, followed by an excerpt from his chapter, How to Repent.
The Family-Centered Plan of Happiness
The Atonement Secures Peace and Happiness
To Obtain Spiritual Guidance
Forgive to be Forgiven
How to Repent
“I Can’t Do it.” “Yes, You Can.”
To Overcome Loneliness and Worry to Find Peace and Happiness
To Cope with What is Unfair
To Cope with Major Challenges That Are Completely Unfair
The Sustaining Power of Faith
The Power to Overcome
The Role of Love
The Power of a Personal Testimony
If you have seriously transgressed, you will not find any lasting satisfaction or comfort in what you have done. Excusing transgression with a cover-up may appear to fix the problem, but it does not. The tempter is intent on making public your most embarrassing acts at he most harmful time. Lies weave a pattern that is every more confining and becomes a trap that Satan will spring to your detriment.
Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise, our every act is seen by our father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about you and are patiently waiting for you to act so that They can bless you (148).
The Infallible Holy Ghost
Elder Scott establishes his book on a foundation of seeking and obtaining spiritual guidance. As mentioned above, he continually urges readers to open communication lines with the Lord so they can recognize the Spirit speaking to them. One adjective he uses to describe the Holy Ghost stopped me in my tracks. He writes, “As you enhance your capacity to sense the direction of the infallible Holy Ghost in your life, you will avoid serious errors (101). The “infallible Holy Ghost” – a being without ability to err, mislead or deceive – a voice of constant reliability, a fail-safe. I loved this truth. What other voice would we dare rely on?
This truth is part of every chapter. Repeatedly, Elder Scott encourages his readers to listen while praying, keep a pen and paper handy always, and record impressions from the Spirit before they are gone. He writes, “I believe that we often leave the most precious, personal direction of the Spirit unheard because we do not respond to, record, and apply the first promptings that come to us. Impressions of the Spirit can come unsolicited when we are in need or in response to urgent prayer” (46).
By consciously creating this theme of spiritual guidance, Elder Scott reminds readers that the Holy Ghost is paramount to making change in our personal lives, as well as helping others.
That which is Essential
I share this final quote from Elder Scott’s book because I believe it resonates with each of us, whether we are struggling or sailing along.
Are there so many fascinating, exciting things to do, or so many challenges pressing upon you, that it is hard to keep focused on that which is essential? When things of the world crowd in, all too often the wrong things are allowed to take highest priority. Then it is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life.
Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people, those who are committed to a worthy righteous life, who want to do good and intend to make the most of this life. His tool is distraction. He has an extensive array of undeniably good things that are used to keep us from doing the essential ones.
Have you noticed that when you begin to focus on something truly important, something of eternal significance, there often come thoughts of other good things to distract you? Satan promotes distraction. He would have good people fill life with “good things” so there is no room for the “essential ones.”
Have you unconsciously been caught in that trap? Remember that you are here on earth for a divine purpose. The purpose is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure. You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive the additional blessings God has for you (10-11).
Although we may not be facing the long return road from serious transgression, there is still a need to be vigilant and aware of the Lord’s desire for us make good choices with our time. Elder Scott teaches that we “get what we pay for” when it comes to spiritual matters. “You get what you pay for in obedience, in faith in Jesus Christ, in diligent application of the truths you learn” (16).
Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy is a book I will reference often. It has renewed my desire to listen for and apply sacred promptings from the Lord. It has helped me better understand God’s plan and His patterns. It has given me hope for those I love who are spiritually lost and looking. And because it is a treatise on truth, not theory, it has given me greater trust in the Lord’s promises and commandments.
Elder Richard G. Scott’s book is a labor of great thought and love. It is the result of deliberate effort meeting genuine need. While offering real solutions to life’s challenges, in ways that are pleasing to the Lord, Elder Scott affectionately declares that if we seek to obey God’s will, He will guide us, through the Holy Ghost, to “enduring peace, consummate happiness, and periods of overwhelming joy” (312).