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Jeffrey S. Bednar

A Future of Happiness

What an honor and privilege it is to be here with you today. When I walked in the building, I looked around and there is an incredible spirit here just because of the physical structure. But then as you started to come into the building, and the spirit that you have in your eyes, and the smiles that you have on your faces made me even more overwhelmed. And I’m just honored and grateful to be here with you today.

I never was planning to be a professor at BYU. I loved my time as a student there, but coming back to BYU just wasn’t in my five- or ten-year plan. But for a host of reasons, I know that the Lord has guided our family here. And when I got to BYU, I thought that this is one of the few places on earth where I can teach the gospel in my classroom as a business professor. And I want to take full advantage of that opportunity. So when I was designing my syllabus for my very first class, on the very last day I put TBA—to be announced. I didn’t know what I wanted to talk to my students about on my very last day of class. I wanted to get to know them, to understand them, before I planned that last day. Partway through the semester, I had the impression, “Teach them about happiness.”

So today, I want to bring you into the last day of my class, to share with you some of the life lessons I have learned about happiness that I hope you can take with you. So I am going to adopt you as my students today. Imagine that we’ve had a semester of vigorous learning and exciting tests and concepts and all kinds of fun stuff.

When I was a little boy, the movie “Back to the Future” came out. How many of you have seen “Back to the Future”? [Audience members raise their hands.] In the movie there is a photo. For those of you that have seen the movie, you may remember this photo, but for those who haven’t, let me tell you a little bit about the plot of “Back to the Future.” Marty McFly is a teenager, growing up in a town, and he runs into an eccentric inventor named Doc Brown. And Doc Brown has invented a machine called a flux capacitor that has the ability to transport people back into time. So Marty accidentally is transported from the 1980s back to the 1950s, where his future parents are in high school.

And as Marty is going about each day, trying not to mess up his future, he notices a picture in his wallet. It’s a picture of his family, he and his two siblings. Marty is in the middle and his two siblings are on the sides. One of the things that Marty notices as he makes different choices is that this picture begins to fade. All that is left of him are his legs. And over time, Marty and his sister begin to fade—until he is able to orchestrate his parents’ first meeting and their first kiss. They fall in love, the picture is restored, and the future is not altered from its course.

Now “Back to the Future” is obviously not based on a true story, but I think it teaches a really powerful principle: that the choices that we make right now, the choices that you make every day, have an influence on your future. So I want you to imagine for a minute—if you had an image of your future, what do you think it would look like? Who would be in that image? What are you doing in this image? What do you look like?

I can promise you one thing. You have no ability to predict your future. What you think you would be doing, what you think you will look like, who you think you would be with—you have no clue. Just like I didn’t know I was going to be coming back to BYU at the end of my PhD. But perhaps a question you can answer is, are you happy? As you think about that picture of the future, how many of you envision yourselves as happy? How many of you envision yourselves as unhappy? It seems ridiculous to imagine a future where you are unhappy.

The Prophet Joseph said, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–256). Happiness is our object; it’s our design. It is the purpose of why we are here.

In a book by Clayton Christensen, he made an interesting observation. He goes back to class reunions from his MBA class of 1979 at Harvard Business School, and one of the things that he has noticed over the years is that more and more of his classmates come to reunions unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. He says,

I can guarantee you not a single one of them graduated with the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them. And yet a shocking number of them implemented that strategy. The reason? They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy” (“How Will You Measure Your Life?” Harvard Business Review,Jul. 2010).

I love that quote at the end. “They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.” So today I want to talk to you about five strategies for happiness that will guide your allocation of your time, talents, and energies, and can help to preserve and protect the happy future.

The first strategy for happiness is to live righteously. The scriptures are very clear that happiness is linked to righteousness, and “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). And there are great promises to those who keep the commandments of God. In Mosiah 2 we learn,

I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness (verse 41).

I think President Kimball gave some really important advice to help us in this pursuit of living righteously. And one of the principles that he taught when he was president of the Church is that there are some choices that we just need to “decide to decide” (Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 70). We only need to make certain decisions once. We can make a single decision about certain things that we will incorporate in our lives, and then make those decisions ours without having to brood and re-decide a hundred times what it is we will do and what we will not do. My young brothers and sisters, if you have not done so yet, decide to decide. (See “Fortifying Ourselves against Evil Influences,” Teachings: Spencer W. Kimball, 102–113.)

When I was a young man, I decided to serve a mission. I made that choice one time, and I never had to re-make that choice again. I committed not to drink alcohol or do drugs. I only had to make that choice one time. I decided not to ever view pornography and if I was exposed to it, to flee and run the other way. And I only had to make that choice one time.

So, I would encourage each of you to think about what are those choices in your life that you can just decide now to decide. And don’t ever look back. Don’t ever brood or have to re-decide, because one thing we know in the study of organizational behavior is that situations can be really powerful. No matter how strong you think you are, we can all find ourselves in really difficult and challenging situations. It is so much easier to flee and get out of those if we have thought in advance and decided to decide.

Sharron Watkins was the whistle-blower in the Enron scandal that happened in the early 2000s, and she shared this wonderful piece of advice for people going into the working world. She said, “[After] working with Andy Fastow, the imprisoned former CFO of Enron, I’d advise folks to run from toxic bosses as fast as you can. If your value system is being challenged on a routine basis, leave as soon as possible. Switch divisions, switch companies, move now! You can’t change your boss or the company from below or even from two rungs from the top” (quoted in “Executive Advice on Business@Work,” BloombergBusiness).

So as you are preparing now to go into the working world, decide right now that you will be an employee and a leader of integrity, and no matter what the situation, if you find that your values are being compromised, decide right now to flee, to run, to move.

I have a dear friend who found himself in a startup company that had wild possibilities for riches in his future. He could have made a lot of money. But he found that his boss started to engage in behavior that was highly questionable and highly unethical. And he wrestled with this for about a day, and felt prompted by the Spirit to leave, to move, to switch companies. And so he mortgaged—he gave up this possibility for these riches in his future. But the Lord provided him with a very stable landing spot, and he preserved for himself a future of happiness.

So decide right now to be an employee, to be a leader of integrity. And when you find yourself in a compromising situation, decide now to flee, to run, to move.

The second strategy for happiness is to work diligently. I’ve always been struck by the descriptions in the Book of Mormon of the Nephites and the Lamanites. In 1 Nephi 12, we learn that the Lamanites “dwindled in unbelief,” and “became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (verses 23). I think there is a relationship between idleness and abomination.

Contrast this with 2 Nephi 5, where we learn about the people of Nephi. Nephi taught his people to build, to work, to be industrious, to labor. And we learn in that chapter that they lived “after the manner of happiness” (verse 27).

Elder Christofferson has taught us that work sustains and enriches life:

It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience. Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth. Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, [and] aspires (“Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” General Conference, Oct. 2010 General Conference).

My father had a philosophy that every young man needs to come to appreciate the value of hard work. So after I finished my junior year of high school, my dad called up my bishop, who was a potato farmer—he farmed potatoes and grain in Rexburg—and he said, “Would you let my son Jeff come and work on your farm for the summer?”

Well, one day I showed up to work and unbeknownst to me—well, before I share that, let me just say, my work was so incredible that when the farmer’s teenage daughter got in trouble, her punishment was to come and work with me. So that gives you some idea of what kind of work I was doing there on the farm. But one day, unbeknownst to me, I showed up to work and my bishop said, “Jeff, today you are going to go and clean out the pump that pumps the grain out of the grain elevator.” Now, I had no idea what this meant, but we arrived at the grain elevator and six feet down, only accessible by ladder, is the pump that pumps the grain out of the grain elevator. And it was a room that was maybe six by six, and over the year, as grain had been pumped out of the elevator, grain falls onto the floor. And so there was about this much grain [gestures to indicate amount] that covered the entire floor. And that grain had gotten wet from rain, and then the top layer had gotten baked by the heat over time. And so what it produced was a layer about this thick of just fermented grain [gestures to indicate amount]. And the only way to get this grain out was to lower a bucket down into the hole, scoop into the bucket, and then someone would raise it and dump it out. And I did that all day long.

I got home, and I smelled so bad that my mom said, “You cannot bring your clothes in the house. You have to throw them away.” I have never been smellier in my life. But I came home with a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing that I had accomplished something very hard. What I didn’t know at the time was that my dad had put my bishop up to this. He called the bishop and said, “I just want you to find the nastiest job you can possibly think of and give that job to Jeff.”

Now, had I known that at the time, I probably would have been a little bit upset with my dad, but now I look back and I’m so grateful for a father who taught me the value of diligent work because it has enabled me to accomplish some very hard things in my life.

The third strategy is to give generously. The prophet Jacob in both 2 Nephi 9 and Jacob 2 gives us some advice about how to expend our financial resources. He counsels us, “Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy” (2 Nephi 9:51). And in Jacob 2, he tells us to “seek [riches] for the intent to do good—to clothe . . . to feed . . . to liberate . . . [to] administer relief” (verse 19).

What’s amazing about this principle is that research shows consistently that spending money on other people brings more happiness that spending money on yourself. Now, there’s a certain level of income at which you have the ability to provide for the necessities of life, and so to some extent, money can buy a little happiness—to the extent that you don’t have to worry about where your food is coming from or where you’re going to sleep at night. But once you have those necessities satisfied, spending money on others brings more happiness than spending money on yourself.

So in one of these experiments, researchers at the University of British Columbia recruited people on a college campus and gave them anywhere from five to twenty dollars. And before they gave them the money, they asked them to fill out a happiness test. And with one group of students, they said, “We want you to go out and we want you to spend this money on yourself.” And on another group, they said, “We want you to spend this money on someone else.” Then at the end of the day, they contacted these students and they gave them this happiness test again. They found that those that had spent the money on other people were significantly more happy than the students who had spent the money on themselves. And they found this effect over and over again with small and large sums of money, in almost every country of the world (except the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they’re not quite sure why that one is a little bit different).

Luckily for us ordinary folks, even more modest forms of generosity can make us happy. We found that asking people to spend money on others, from giving to charity to buying gifts for friends and family, reliably makes them happier than spending that same money on themselves.

The same is true of your time—not just your financial resources, but your time. I love this quote by President Snow about service. He says,

When you find yourself a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself, go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated” (Conference Report, Apr. 1899, 2–3).

So don’t spend your money and your time on that which cannot satisfy. And one of the greatest ways that you can spend your time and your money is in doing good to other people. Some of us think, “Well, I’ll do that when I’ve made my living. I’ll do that when I’m rich. Then I’ll give back.” That’s a terrible idea. Start now. Don’t just be a full tithe payer. Don’t just give a generous offering, but find worthy causes and ways that you can use your time and your resources to do good.

I have a student that I taught who came to me last semester. My wife and I were doing some raising of awareness and funds for a foundation that has to do with a disorder that our youngest son has. I’m going to talk to you in a minute about my youngest son. But this student said, “My wife and I decided when we got married that, in addition to paying our tithes and offerings, we would set aside a certain amount of income every year to give to a worthy cause. And as we’ve heard about your wife and as we’ve heard about your son, we’d like to donate that amount of money to your son’s foundation this year.”

I was just overwhelmed. Here is this poor undergrad student, just like you guys. He is trying to get into med school. And the amount of money that he donated—I won’t tell you how much it was, but it wasn’t an enormous donation. But what an incredible example of someone early in his life, when he and his wife are poor, who is willing to give generously. So, as you think about your situation, think about how you can use your time and your financial resources to do good for other people. And it will be a source of lasting happiness.

The fourth strategy is to thank frequently. We learn in Doctrine and Covenants 98, we are commanded to “rejoice . . . and in everything give thanks” (verse 1). How many of you feel you are living up to that commandment—giving thanks in everything?

I love the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17, where one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. We know a little bit about the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. So it was a Samaritan who came and gave thanks.

“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (verses 17–19).

And just like giving, researchers are finding robust findings suggesting that gratitude is directly correlated with happiness. In one study, done by a group of researchers at a top university, they had an experiment where they had one group journal—well, they had three groups that journaled. And to one group, the researchers said they wanted that group to write things that they were grateful for that had occurred during that week. And a second group wrote about daily irritations. And then the third group wrote about events that affected them, but there was no guidance given about whether they should write about things that were positive or negative.

Ten weeks later, the researchers found that those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic, that they felt better about their lives, and there were physiological effects: they exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. So, that simple act of journaling things that you are grateful for every day—ten weeks later. That’s incredible to have an intervention that lasts ten weeks later and has both psychological and physiological effects.

Another researcher by the name of Martin Seligman has done an enormous number of studies about positive psychology, and they were testing the impact of different types of psychological interventions. And the test that they had one group do was to write and deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness. In the short run, immediately, there was a large increase in their happiness scores. But the impact was greater than anything else that they tried or experimented with, and the impact lasted a month. So, four weeks later they still found that this practice of thanking someone for something that they’d never been thanked for had a significant effect on their happiness. So thank frequently.

I don’t know what the baseline rate of gratitude is. I can tell you from my students—every semester, out of about 200 students, I’ll have maybe eight or nine that will shoot me an email. Sometimes they will come by my office with a handwritten note, thanking me. Do you know what I do with those notes? I put them on the windowsill in my office so that I look at them every day because they are meaningful to me. I’m so grateful for the people that come back—the one, the two, the eight that come back and give thanks. And not only does it bless my life, but it blesses their lives. They are more happy, too.

The last principle that I want to talk about is enduring patiently. We learn in Alma 31 that we can receive strength in our trials, that our afflictions can be swallowed up in the joy of Christ (see verse 38).  And Paul’s famous declaration: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

As you look at those future pictures—again, you have no clue what they are going to look like, but I can promise you one thing: you are going to experience trials; you’re going to experience challenges; you are going to experience heartache. There’s no doubt about that.

I’ve always been struck by this graph [referring to a slide]. Dan Gilbert, who is a famous psychologist at Harvard Business School and studies happiness, surveyed lottery winners and paraplegics a year after the event. And what do you notice about these bars [referring to a slide]? They are exactly the same. In fact, if you look at it, paraplegics are actually directionally slightly higher. It wouldn’t be a significant difference, but it’s directionally higher. And Dan Gilbert says,

If you go blind or lose a fortune, you’ll find there’s a whole new life on the other side of those events. And you’ll find many things about that new life are quite good. In fact, you’ll undoubtedly find a few things that are even better than what you had before. You’re not lying to yourself; you’re not delusional. You’re discovering things you didn’t know—couldn’t know until you were in that new life. You are looking for things that make your new life better, you are finding them, and they are making you happy. What is most striking to me as a scientist is that most of us don’t realize how good we’re going to be at finding these things. We’d never say, “Oh, of course, if I lost my money or my wife left me, I’d find a way to be just as happy as I am now.” We’d never say it—but it’s true (“The Science behind the Smile,” Harvard Business Review,Jan. 2012).

In my two years at BYU as I have gotten to know my students on a more personal level, one of the things I have marveled is some of the trials and challenges that my students go through. And so in preparation for a test, I felt impressed to reach out to one of those students. His name is Andrew. And Andrew was just finishing up his school year and had a summer job in another part of the country, had been married about a year and a half, and was so excited to learn that he and his wife were expecting a baby girl. When they got to the new state where he was going to be working for the summer, they set up an appointment with the doctor. She was about 33 weeks into her pregnancy, and a pregnancy normally lasts 40 weeks. Well, the morning of the appointment before she went in, she started to experience contractions, and she went into labor. So they rushed her to this doctor, and the doctor performed an ultrasound and came back and with a very concerned look on his face said, “There is something seriously wrong. Your daughter has a rare condition that causes fluid to build up in her internal compartments, and we need to Life Flight you right away to the downtown of the city where there is a more experienced team and a giant medical center.”

So while his wife was Life Flighted, my student was in a car being rushed to the hospital, and he said, “I’ve never been so scared in my life.” They got to the hospital and she commenced labor. She labored for hours, and finally it came time to push. And she pushed for about seven hours before they finally said, “We need to do an emergency C-section.” They did the emergency C-section, and this little girl was born without a heartbeat. They rushed this little girl to the next room to try to revive her, did everything that they could, and suddenly burst into the room and said, “We were able to find a heartbeat.” And so there was this moment of hope where they thought that maybe things were going to be okay. But a short time later, the doctors came back, and they said, “We’ve tried everything, and we can’t sustain her life.” And so, after just a few hours of life, this little girl passed away.

I want to share with you some words from Andrew. He said,

Throughout that time I felt so scared, but never alone. I knew no matter what happened, we would be okay. Throughout our stay in the hospital, we read talks from prophets and apostles, and scriptures that provided us great comfort. Our family and friends gave us great comfort, and it was humbling to see love and support coming our way from so many people across the world. The greatest piece of comfort was the knowledge that our Savior was there by our side to comfort us. We knew that because of His Atonement, when Olivia passed away He was there to welcome her with open arms. I knew that she was saved.

I also felt comforted to know that because of Jesus Christ, Olivia would never again have a battered, bruised, and imperfect body, but she would be glorified and perfected. It was also a very sad time for us and our families, but the more I thought about it, I realized that Olivia was now perfectly happy. Because she was perfectly happy, I wanted to be as happy as possible as well. I felt that if I tried to be like her and be perfectly happy, I could feel closer to her than I would if I were to be constantly sad and depressed. I knew that the Savior had suffered this hardship for me. He had borne my afflictions and grief so that I would not be required to do so alone.

As sad a time as that was, I can’t remember ever feeling closer to my Savior. He truly lifted and supported us. I’ve learned no matter what our challenges may be, whether it be losing a child or getting a failing grade on a test, the Savior has suffered that pain for me. I realized it is better to look forward in faith and hope on what is yet to come than to constantly look back and dwell upon the negative. We can take each hardship in our lives and learn from it and use it to improve our lives moving forward. Each of us really does choose to apply the Atonement in our lives, and when we do, our burdens are lifted and the future becomes much brighter than we ever could have imagined.

Incredible. I’m so grateful for the chance I have to teach students just like you with this kind of faith and these kinds of testimonies in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

This is my son, Sam. Sam is a year and a half old, and Anne and I had our own scary moment when we went to our 18-week ultrasound. We found out that Sam has inverted organs. So Sam’s heart is not on the left side; it’s on the right side. His stomach is not on the left side; it’s on the right side. And guess where his appendix is? It’s not on the right side; it’s on the left side. So we joke that he is created in God’s mirror image. Now, this can be highly consequential, or it can be not consequential at all. Randy Foy used to play for the Utah Jazz, and Randy Foy has this condition, called situs inversus. But situs inversus can also be a sign of an underlying genetic disorder called ciliary dyskinesia. Ciliary dyskinesia affects the cilia that line your respiratory system. In your ears and basically anywhere that your body produces mucus you have cilia that beat in a coordinated fashion and move that mucus along. And so, we knew that there might be a possibility that Sam had CD, but we sure prayed that he didn’t.

Well, after Sam was born, the doctor sent us home with a clean bill of health, and we thought we had won the lottery, that we had this backwards kid. For those of you who speak Spanish, before he was born we called him opuesto, which means opposite. So he is our little opuesto. But a few days after we got home from the hospital, Sam started to suffer respiratory distress. It was clear that he was having a really difficult time breathing. We had to return to the emergency room, where they checked his oxygen levels and found that he needed supplemental oxygen. After subsequent testing, we found that he had this genetic disorder called PCD, primary ciliary dyskinesia. PCD can be really serious. It causes symptoms that are a lot like cystic fibrosis; it can cause your lungs to sustain damage. You’re much more prone to flus and bacterial pneumonia, so it can be a progressive disease—it gets worse and worse over the course of your life.

I’m quite open with my students about Sam and the amazing little kid that he is. And I had a student once that emailed me, and he said, “How do you remain patient as you deal with the challenges that you son is going through?”

This is what I wrote to this student: “You asked how I continue being patient and faithful with illnesses of my kids. I’d simply say this has become much easier as I have started to let go of an end to my adversity as the object of my faith, and I have adopted learning in my adversity as the object of my faith. I don’t pray anymore for Sam to be okay. He may live a long life, or he may not. He may be healthy enough to serve a mission, and he may not. He may marry someday, or he may not. He may have kids someday, or he may not. But I’ve come to a new understanding of what it means for my son to be okay. To be okay does not mean he will have a life free from physical, mental, or emotional challenges, with some happily ever after ending. His body, which I once viewed as limited, will likely be one of the most important vehicles to teach him and me and countless others priceless lessons that will shape our character to become more like the Savior. Now, as I look into his eyes, he is more than okay; he is perfect. His illness is not an adversary; it is a teacher. And my goal is to learn as much from him as possible and make sure that his disorder has its intended impact on him and me, to fit us to live with God again someday.”

I love this quote by Elder Holland: “Salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us, when it was never, ever easy for Him?” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001.)

Brigham Young also said, “It is recorded that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. . . . Why should we imagine for one moment that we can be prepared to enter into the kingdom of rest with him and the Father, without passing through similar ordeals?” (Arranged by John A. Widtsoe, Discourses of Brigham Young, Desert Book Company: Salt Lake City, Utah, 30:331.)

I love this quote by Elder Eyring. If you haven’t read his talk “Mountains to Climb,” . . . this brings me great comfort. He says,

I cannot promise [you] an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop.

There are reasons for that. Knowing the reasons may not give [you] much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Christ can be there (Apr. 2012 General Conference).

So again, as you think about those pictures, I can promise you they will be filled with challenge. They will be filled with sorrow. They will be filled with heartache. Don’t abandon your faith in those moments, because it is those moments that are intended to build your faith. It’s those moments that are intended to help you better understand Jesus Christ, to help you better understand His Atonement, and to help you better understand the strengthening power that He can provide you as you pass through those moments.

So if you have a hard time finding a spouse, if you have a hard time having kids, if you have kids with illness or kids that are taken from you at an early age, don’t curse God. Don’t think He doesn’t love you, because it’s those moments that He puts you in that may be the very act of love that you need to be fitted for the kingdom of God.

Now, we’ve talked about these five strategies, and I want to issue you a challenge. Maybe one of these had stood out to you. Maybe one of these has resonated with you, or the Spirit has touched your heart and prompted you to take action in one of these areas. I want you to write down my email address, and I challenge you to flood my inbox with stories and examples and experiences that you have this week, next week, this month, this year, applying the things that we have talked about. And I promise you that as you apply these principles in your life that they will lead to greater happiness. They will preserve for you a future of happiness.

I want to leave my testimony. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that He is our Lord and Savior, that through His atoning sacrifice, we truly can become strengthened beyond our own. I’m so grateful for His Atonement. I’m so grateful for His life. I’m so grateful for His teachings. And I’m grateful for this chance I had to be with you and share these principles. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

Brother Jeffrey S. Bednar is an assistant professor of organizational leadership and strategy at Brigham Young University. You might guess by his last name and the way he looks, you might know who his parents are. He was raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas before moving to Rexburg, Idaho, where he finished high school while his father served as president of BYU—Idaho. After he finished high school, he attended BYU for a year and served in the England London Mission. Now this gets complicated as well—His mission president was Steven Wheelwright, who is the president of BYU—Hawaii. His missionary companion was Brady Kimber, the HR director of the Business College. You don’t have to go far in the Church to be connected in wonderful ways.

After returning from his mission, Brother Bednar received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in accounting from BYU. He married Ann Burkstead, and they moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he completed a PhD in management and organizations from the University of Michigan. Brother Bednar recently returned to BYU as an assistant professor in organizational leadership and strategy in the BYU Marriott School of Management. His research focuses on how individuals and collectives construct and maintain their identities and how they respond to various identity challenges. He teaches organizational behavior courses and works with organizations that are wrestling with issues related to leadership, identity, and culture. He and his wife are the parents of three children. We are grateful that Brother Bednar would take time from his teaching assignments at BYU to come and be with us.


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