Seven Billion Ways to Be Happy or Don’t Let the Naysayers Silence Your Song

I am constantly amazed, and consistently delighted, at the many many ways to find happiness in this world: making the basketball team, joining the choir, stitching a quilt, starting a charity, earning an award or an honest dollar…running, inventing, gardening, swimming, hiking, writing or simply just noticing everything and anything good, beautiful, funny.

And yet, in this age of opportunities, where each of us can truly find joy, runs a current of criticism, jealousy, nit-picking and quibbling. The cynics seem to see the world as a pie and any success by someone else, means less for them to eat. But the world isn’t a single pastry, it’s a banquet– lush and full and overflowing, constantly replenished and with new dishes appearing every day. Life offers more than enough love, triumphs and beauty for each of us, no one needs to envy or critique another’s dish.

Each life also holds misery, heartache and disasters– which is all the more reason to tread gently and kindly on this earth.

Yesterday, I had an article printed in the Deseret News with rather large and bold placement. You might think I love holding my words and photos on giant pages, but I actually dread each time I receive an email exclaiming, “Your article had been published!”

Words, once published, are like Frankenstein brought to life– they take on actions of their own, free to misinterpretation and abuse. I discipline myself to avoid the comments on the online page because despite their lack of sense and correlation to what was written, mean words hurt.

Intelligent discussion defines a vibrant and educated society, but the ferocity of condemnation, the excoriation of ‘errant’ writers astounds me. It seems no one can write an opinion of any sort without subjecting themselves to name-calling and mockery. An article that made the rounds of Facebook and the internet last fall comes to mind. A mother of four boys and one little girl wrote about the fact her family will ‘unfriend’ a girl on Facebook if she posts provocative photos. I’m not going to link to it. While her words (and especially the photos she included) might have benefited from a bit of tempering, I was surprised at the backlash heaped upon her. The hatred, the parodies, the evisceration of a woman who, from what I could tell, simply stated her opinion.

Just yesterday, I read a beautiful article– God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it. (which I’ll quite happily link to)– but was saddened to see several comments (I didn’t go past the first twenty or so) both questioning and mocking her faith. Wouldn’t their opinions be better served by writing posts or articles of their own? Why tear apart her expressions of faith and understanding?

Over and over, I’ve seen this behavior within discussions about… well, every topic imaginable. Does any attacker believe their cruel words (on either side of the discussion) will lead to understanding?

Perhaps some might say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire.” To some degree, this is true. But if every sensitive writer/singer/artist stopped contributing, we’d lose so many important voices. Each of us, in whatever we choose to pursue, must block out the voices of opposition. My sister loves to remind me, “The angels tell you to be glorious, but the devils tell you, ‘don’t even try.'”

Why do I write? Because my words, my ideas, matter to a few people. Not masses. I’ve never penned a viral article; no one’s clamoring for my words. But the trickle of emails and kind words keep me going. I’ve been told I empower parents, give them the courage to buck peer pressure and follow their own instincts.

Yes, I need to ignore the belittlers if I want to go forward. But I’d also suggest we’d all benefit– especially those who spend their time critiquing and reviling– by simply pursuing happiness, spreading kindness, looking for ways to help and create and enjoy this beautiful, beautiful life.

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January 6, 2014



  1. The Linabooty's

    January 9, 2014

    I have witnessed this on pretty much all the blogs I read. I don’t think I fully understood it until just now.
    I just went to the link and read the beautiful words posted. Throughout the post I felt the spirit, camaraderie, hope and also a desire to share these words with members of my family who are struggling with God because they feel he has given them too much to bear.
    Then I began to read the comments and after only reading a few I felt deflated, depressed and no longer inspired to pass on the message or feel God’s love and hope.
    So I guess the conclusion I have come to is that these individuals that chose to write nonconstructive negative comments are additional tools used by the adversary to prevent our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christs message of love and hope to proceed. I often think we need to know Satan as well as we know our Father in Heaven because he is so crafty and has gotten so creative in his use of people combined with media to destroy others. Thank you for not letting him prevent you (through others) from spreading your good vibes to the world.
    sorry for the long comment…now I’ve talked myself into going back and forwarding Kayla’s message to my family.

  2. Laurel C.

    January 9, 2014

    I have a [small] writing background. In college, one of my English professor’s words stuck with me, “To write well is to open a vein and bleed onto the page.” Writing done well involves sharing emotion and exposing ourselves to others. (And I’m with you, I hate that part.)

    I agree with you and the commenter above me… too many beautiful and lovely words are spoiled by the comments of those who seek to tear down. I am sickened when I see such comments on LDS social media sites. I’ve made it a policy to read the original article but never the comments. Too many hateful words and evil agendas.

    I loved your last paragraph, “Yes, I need to ignore the belittlers if I want to go forward. But I’d also suggest we’d all benefit– especially those who spend their time critiquing and reviling– by simply pursuing happiness, spreading kindness, looking for ways to help and create and enjoy this beautiful, beautiful life.” This is why I read your blog… you bring beauty with your writing, photography, parenting, and home-making skills. We need more people like you in this world. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

  3. Jeanelle

    January 10, 2014

    I really and truly love the way you think.

  4. Sheri

    January 10, 2014

    Love this! I don’t know if I’ve ever commented on your blog before but just know that your words inspire this Mother of 3 all the way up in the frozen north of Canada.

  5. Chocolate on my Cranium

    January 10, 2014

    This coming Saturday we will have a baptism of a family of four. The mother bore her testimony in Relief Society this past Sunday. She talked about how she has always been a nice person but it rubbed people the wrong way so they would tell her she was too nice. She even bought a book called “To Nice For Your Own Good” and read it in an effort to be less nice. Then the first time she attended our church she was struck by how very nice everyone was and how welcoming they were to her niceness. She told her husband, “This is where we belong!” You can never be too nice or too kind to others.

  6. thatgoodpart

    January 10, 2014

    I love this. Two things:

    1) I think that our culture of criticism can be so toxic. And a lot of people insist that such criticism is just looking at a scenario truthfully or “objectively”. But I disagree. Instead of seeing the beauty in the world around us, we tend only to notice what’s wrong. That is NOT an honest assessment! This attitude brings out the worst in us, we become meaner, and unhappier.

    2) I love this scripture that a high priest posed to Korihor before taking him to Alma: “Why do you go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be not Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the Holy prophets?” (Alma 30:22, emphasis added).

    The part that strikes me in this verse is “to interrupt their rejoicings.” I have tried to apply this to my life. Say, for example, when my kids are doing something that I find annoying, but they find delightful. I’ve tried to see why they’re rejoicing, and it has changed my perspective. No matter the faith or background good is good, and we can rejoice together in it. 🙂

    Thanks for the posts, Michelle. I am an avid reader even though I don’t comment all that often. You inspire me to be a better woman and mother. 🙂

  7. Tracy

    January 11, 2014

    So well said my friend. xo

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