Chapter 3: Cultivating an Attitude of Happiness and a Spirit of Optimism

As the enthusiasm from the new year wears down, Gordon B. Hinckley Chapter 3: Cultivating an Attitude of Happiness and a Spirit of Optimism quickly picks you back up with a reminder of all the good in the world and great possibilities that lie ahead. President Hinckley definitely embodied a spirit of optimism; whenever I picture him, he is smiling. 


As I often tell my children, if you look hard enough you can always find something to complain about. The reverse is true as well. There is always something to smile about and rejoice in. I love the line in the manual (section 2) that talks about how wonderful it is to live in the fulness of times. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ on this earth today with living prophets and a God who communicates regularly. That is cause to be happy. 

Keep scrolling down for the free handouts, ideas, and my video.

Questions to Ponder

Some of these questions are from the manual, others are ones that I thought of- use them in your preparation, lesson, or to help you think of your own.

  • Why is the counsel to cultivate an attitude of happiness and optimism needed today?
  • How can you cultivate a deeper attitude of happiness? What areas do you struggle with?
  • How do we allow a spirit of thanksgiving to guide us?  
  • In what ways have you been blessed as you have kept a spirit of gratitude?
  • How do you intentionally cultivate an attitude of gratitude?
  • In what ways is life like an old-time rail journey? (section 3)
  • In what ways does the good news of the gospel affect the way you approach your journey?
  • How can you apply the story of Caleb and Joshua to your life? (section 4)
  • What other examples can you name of people embracing the gospel with enthusiasm?
  • What can you do when you feel discouraged? How can you regain an optimistic attitude?
  • What experiences have you had that have increased your optimism for the Lord's work?
  • Why do you think we have a tendency to belittle others (including ourselves)? How do we overcome this tendency?
  • How can you (individually and as a family) help others "stand a little taller" and "rise a little higher"? (section 5)
  • How do you stay positive when surrounded by negativity? 
  • How do you keep negative attitudes out of your home?
  • What are some daily habits you can do in order to walk in the sunshine and not the storms?
  • What reasons has the gospel given you for gladness?
  • Do you believe that "the gospel is a message of triumph"?

Teacher Study

Here are some articles and other things to study as you continue to prepare for your lesson. They should NOT replace the manual but rather help answer questions and strengthen your own testimony so that it is easy to teach with confidence and answer questions that arise during your lesson. 

"Happiness, Your Heritage" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"The Pursuit of Happiness" by Brother W. Mack Lawrence

"Happiness" by Elder Jack H. Goaslind

"Be of Good Cheer: Choosing Happiness" by Sister Camille Fronk Olson

"'If Thou Art Merry, Praise the Lord'" by Sister Mary Ellen Edmunds

"An Attitude of Gratitude" by President Thomas S. Monson

"Grateful in Any Circumstance" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"Stay the Course- Keep the Faith" by President Gordon B. Hinckley (part of this chapter comes from this talk)

This year, I'm reading "Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues that Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes" again as we study the words of the prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley. The eighth virtue is gratitude and the ninth is optimism. If you have it, you can find more great quotes and points to use in those chapters. If you don't have it yet, I recommend it. It's a great book to help you focus on healthy habits that matter. Find more great resources to use this year as you study Gordon B. Hinckley and the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History.

Supporting Videos

Before you use a video in your lesson, read these 15 tips.

How Can I Find Happiness? (about 2 1/2 minutes)- Words from Elder Scott

We Can Find Happiness (about 6 1/2 minutes)- The stories of 3 people finding happiness through the plan of salvation

Thanksgiving Daily (about 2 minutes)- Learning to live in thanksgiving daily (There are several more videos on Thanksgiving on this page as well if you are looking for more.)

Our Prophet Thomas S. Monson (about 1 minute)- Highlight from Elder Walker about President Monson's happy attitude

Scripture Study

These are the same scriptures mentioned at the end of the manual. 

John 16:33

Philippians 4:14

Mosiah 2:41

Alma 34:38

Ether 12:4

D&C 19:38-39

D&C 128:19-23

Teaching Thoughts

These are my ideas. Every class is different and needs different things so I try to provide a few different ideas in hope that as you read through, you will find some inspiration of your own. 

  • The beginning of section 1 says, "There is a terrible ailment of pessimism in the land." How did we allow this disease to spread everywhere? How do we cure it? How do we prevent it from coming back? Write a prescription as a class to cure this ailment or use the prescription handout in the image above. You can even attach daily medicine in the form of the other two posters or quotes from the manual (There are so many more great quotes in this chapter. If you want to make your own additional quote handouts, I recommend using PicMonkey). 
  • In November, Mormon Channel wrote a guest post in the Family Time section of this blog about changing your daily To-Do list into a daily gratitude list. I recommend reading the whole article as it includes some links to other great posts and videos. At the end you will find a free printable that I put together to help you write down gratitude-filled moments. Use it as you prepare this lesson and notice how it changes your day. You can then give the printables to your class and challenge them to do the same.
  • Use the Bounty of Thanks printables found in the Mormon Channel post I mentioned previously as part of your lesson. As people come in, have them write one thing they are grateful for at that specific moment and put it in a jar you have set up on the table. Read a few when you get to that part of the lesson and continue to discuss the importance of acknowledging gratitude.
  • Encourage your class to take one of the two posters in the image above to someone that missed the lesson either due to another calling, sickness, or inactivity. Personalize it with a message or summary of the lesson on the back. 
  • Bring a dart board as a visual for your lesson (ask around your ward if you don't have one. If you really want one of your own, we enjoy this magnetic one). Cover the bullseye with a paper that says, "Storms of Life." On the other rings, put "Sunshine." Use it to demonstrate the quote, "I come... with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight." If you have magnetic darts you could have people practice seeking the sunshine instead of the storms.
  • My Computer Is My Canvas has another great printable pack to go with this lesson. It includes quote printables and "Nuggets of Wisdom." 
  • In section 1, it mentions cultivating an attitude of happiness. Bring a pack of "Happiness Seeds" and discuss how you can help them grow. If you use this as a handout, put some candy coated sunflower seeds inside as seeds.
  • Make a goal to intentionally give 5 sincere compliments a day and see what happens. Do the challenge before you teach so you can share (or challenge a few people in your class to do it and report). Use these compliment cards if you get stuck. 
  • Pass out this Discovering Happiness handout to your class at the beginning. Take 5 minutes so everyone can fill out all 3 sections then spend time sharing your happiness. How did sharing our happiness with others improve the spirit in the room? Does it increase our own happiness?
  • Another handout idea- make a Rejoice Journal for people to fill out. If you have enough time, give it to a few people in your class a week before you teach for them to fill it out. Give each person 2-3 minutes to report how it helped them stay positive. 
  • Print these Pick Me Up Scriptures on sticky notes and place them on various chairs or places where people will read them before class starts. Ask who noticed and read them and to share their thoughts. There are a lot more scriptures that talk about being cheerful! Challenge your class to find some more.
  • The word "gospel" means good news. Use this video clip from President Russell M. Nelson then ask what good news your class has received from the gospel. 
  • As I read this manual I was constantly reminded of the hymns "Be Still My Soul" and "Master, the Tempest is Raging." President Hinckley asked us to stop seeking out the storms and enjoy the sunlight. Part of stilling our souls and allowing the Lord to calm our seas is being happy. Fear and worry are not faith. Faith brings happiness. 
  • Send this great adult coloring page from LDS Printable home with your class. The quote on it is from President Hinckley. 
  • My video below contains 4 more ideas. It cuts off at the end but don't worry- you aren't missing anything big. It was like 30 more seconds but my internet died for a few hours. 


See the hymns listed under the topics, "Cheerfulness", "Gratitude," and "Joy."