It has been our custom at The Boy Scout to post a Scouter’s minute each day leading up to Christmas. This year, we decided to try something new. The Christmas messages will focus on the lives of modern-day prophets and times when they exemplified a point of the Scout Law. Come back for the next eleven days to find out how prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Gordon B. Hinckley teaches us to be cheerful.
A Lifetime of Optimism
President Gordon B. Hinckley was famous for his unfailing good cheer. He often taught the members of the Church that a good attitude and spirit of optimism and faith would help them overcome the obstacles they faced. He taught, “Let there be something of a light tone in your life. Let there be fun and happiness, a sense of humor, the capacity to laugh occasionally at things that are funny. In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.
President Hinckley didn’t just preach the principle of good cheer; he lived it. We learn more in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual about his life and teachings:
President Gordon B. Hinckley’s mother, Ada Bitner Hinckley, often said that “a happy attitude and smiling countenance could boost one over almost any misfortune and that every individual was responsible for his own happiness.” His father, Bryant S. Hinckley, also had an “inherently positive outlook.” President Hinckley recalled, “When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: ‘Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.’” Influenced by his parents’ counsel and example, young Gordon Hinckley learned to approach life with optimism and faith.
As a missionary in England, Elder Hinckley worked hard to follow his parents’ counsel. He and his companions shook hands each morning and told each other, “Life is good.” Almost 70 years later, he suggested that a group of missionaries in the Philippines follow the same practice. “Yesterday was a great day in my life,” he told them. “Every day is a great day in my life. I hope every day is a great day in your lives—every one of you. I hope you can get ready to go in the morning and shake the hand of your companion and say, ‘Brother (Sister), life is good. Let’s go out and have a good day.’ And when you come in at night, I hope you can say to one another, ‘It’s been a good day. We’ve had a good time. We’ve helped somebody along the way. … We’ll follow up with them and pray and hope that they will come into the Church.’ Every day ought to be a good day in the mission field.”
This counsel was representative of President Hinckley’s approach to life. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following observation about President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie: “They do not waste time pondering the past or fretting about the future. And they persevere in spite of adversity.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, commented: “‘Things will work out’ may well be President Hinckley’s most repeated assurance to family, friends, and associates. ‘Keep trying,’ he will say. ‘Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.’”
Remember, a Scout is cheerful. So be happy, be optimistic, and remember that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
Author: Maria Milligan | Chief of Staff, Utah National Parks Council, BSA