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Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Be Happy

Dear Bro Jo,

First I would like to say thanks for all that you do.

You probably hear this all the time, but your site has helped me out A LOT!

I suppose I'll start out with a bit of back ground information: I am a 17 year old girl. I've been a member of the Church my whole life. and I live in (location withheld).

If ever asked what my happiest memory is I can't say I would have a good genuine answer.

It's not that I'm a sad, and unhappy person (although lately I think this description would fit), I can laugh and have fun I just could never identify those moments with happiness.

I have been going to therapy for around three years to help with my social anxiety, and although I would say I have made substantial progress, I cannot say that I am happier.

I try to be a good person. I serve others to the best of my ability, I have attended so far three years of seminary, I very rarely miss a day of church and I go to the temple when ever the youth have a temple trip. I am an honor (AP) student, I am the Laurel class president, I have received my Young Women's Medallion for completing the personal progress, and I am on my way to getting my Honor Bee.

I try to be an example to those around me, I read my scriptures almost every night, and I pray often.

Yet regardless of all these things I cant say that I am happy.

I have so many blessings and things to be happy and grateful for, and the fact that I am not makes me feel terrible.

I wish I could take everything I have and give it to someone who really needs it, because they deserve it much more than I do.


And now that you are caught up I'll explain what has been going on.


This past week has been pretty bad.

School is out and I have had nothing to occupy my time.

I wouldn't say I have been feeling sad but rather empty.

I like doing many things yet none of them have been able to really make me happy.

They act as more of distractions that keep my mind off of how I am feeling.

Furthermore, I have been really irritable. Even the smallest things will set me off, and I don't know why. Though obviously I get angry like any one else, but recently I has been magnified.

I guess my questions are:

     Any advice on how can I be happier?

     Would you recommend talking to anyone (bishop, young women's president) about my situation?

     and

     From what you have read so far can you help he figure out where this "emptiness" comes from?

I know these questions are subject to ones opinions and frame of view, but at this point I need any help I can get.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

- Empty Well

PS: Other information that might be useful:

 - I've never been good at making or maintaining friendships, and in too many of those friendships I have done much of the chasing.

  - Most people don't really come to me to try to be my friend. As a result I have been very lonely. Even in Church the other girls in my ward don't really care to talk to me or help me in establishing a friendship. Which has lead me to be very lonely and question if there is anything wrong with me?

(Ex: Why am I not good enough for people to WANT to talk to me?)

  - I'm a natural introvert





Dear Well,

I want you to know that I've given your email a lot of prayerful thought.

This is not meant as a substitute for the counseling you've been receiving.

You may also want to consider taking control of your situation and your life.

See, you have the fortunate situation of being in a position where everything that's bothering you is something you can fix.

And fix quite easily, I might add.

You've achieved so many good things!

Let yourself enjoy those things and be proud of your accomplishments.

Rather than giving your things away because you feel unworthy to have them, use them to help others.

AP student?

Go tutor someone who needs help. (Great way to make a new friend!)

See, I think you're "choosing unhappiness" because, on some level, it makes you feel better.

Perhaps it makes you feel less guilty.

Perhaps you think (wrongly, btw) that unhappiness equals humility.

Having traveled to where you live a few times, I refuse to accept your claim that there's "nothing to occupy" your time.

I'm sorry, but I care too much to sugar coat this: that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! I could spend weeks at the Museums there alone!

And then there's the parks . . . and historical things . . . and great things to see . . . and DO!

Afraid to leave your home?

Even then! There's a great history of the area that's over 1200 pages; well worth the read!

In short, if you want to Be Happy, choose to Be Happy.

If you really are done feeling sad and sorry for yourself, then stop it.

If you don't like your life as an introvert (which, frankly, is a label I think you're comfortably hiding behind) then CHANGE.

And if you do like the idea of being an introvert . . . then stop complaining!

Do the righteous things that help you to feel joy.

If you want to go make friends, go make friends.

If you'd rather stay in and read, then do that!

Both are great and wonderful ways to spend your time.

My father says that the cure to all depression is WORK. Maybe you need to get a job.

Sister Jo says nothing makes us feel better than being of service to others. You could certainly find people in your area that need some service.

I don't think you're an empty well. I just think you're expecting someone or something else to fill that well, when the only person that can fill it with any positive long tern results . . . is you.

All around you are miracles and blessings.

See them.

Be Grateful for them. Fill your well with the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ put around us, put into our lives, every day.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Depression is a very real thing; by all means if you find that your suffering from depression that you just can't overcome on your own, then talk to your Bishop and/or Young Women's President and/or Parents and get some professional help.  Don't delay!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was a junior in high school I could have written the same letter. There are lots of moments when you *don't* feel "down," you just want the happiness to be there and it isn't. I agree with everything BroJo says in general, but I think I can add three things:

1), being a junior in high school could be causing a lot of the problem. Continuing through life really will fix a lot of it. I didn't hear that enough as a junior.

2) You might be someone who lives on quality time (think 5 love languages). If you discover that you need that, then you can be involved the right amount of time with the right kind of people to keep you feeling better. If you're having a day where the energy isn't there, plan some way to get that time you need. This isn't taking away from anything BroJo said. But taking control of my quality time needs was one of the biggest things that brought my happiness back. I became more introverted in situations where I relied on other people to know that I needed filling. When I was able to take control of "getting others to help fill me," I was more extroverted most of the time.

Actually, you might currently be an empty well. But if realizing that you need filling and doing what will fill you for a little while will make you feel better, then you never have to be empty again; every time you know you're low, go fill up. Those who don't need as much pure quality time, with no activities attached, probably don't realize what life it gives to those who need it. But if you need it, doing all the activities everyone else uses to feel better isn't going to make you any happier. Some of us need to get rid of all the activities and just "be"--with others. If that works for you, then don't feel bad about doing it.

3) If you're someone who needs quality time, then the best thing about reading your scriptures and praying is just being with God. Even the learning, testimony building, inspiration, etc. that we get from those activities doesn't matter as much to us as the fact that God let us spend time with Him and didn't expect us to be doing our calling or serving someone in order to "deserve" to be around Him. The devil might try to tell you that it's no good to spend an hour a day (or more if you need it on some days) "just" praying or reading your scriptures, but don't listen to that! One of the saddest things I believed as a junior was that it was silly to spend as much time doing that stuff every day as I'd have been happy to. Now I know that I should have taken as much time as I wanted. Men and women are that they might have joy, and it's really only that connection with Heavenly Father that brings the happiness we're looking for anyway. If simply spending time with Him is what gets you through high school or any other time in your life, then do it!! and ignore the thoughts that other people don't do that and so you shouldn't, or shouldn't have to, either.