Why Learning Leads to Happiness [article]

From the US News and World Report: “Why Learning Leads to Happiness” by Philip Moeller

Mr. Moeller knocks it right out of the park in the first sentence, “Your mind may be the closest thing to the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness.” In Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19 we read: 

18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

So, we get that learning, or adding to our knowledge and intelligence really is the Holy Grail. The thing that keeps us going long past the time that we should die. 

In his article, Moeller quotes psychologist Laura Carstensen who says that education is the single most important factor in increasing the length of our life. There are a lot of socio-economic benenfits, like getting a better-paying and safer job, as well as living in a better neighborhood, with less crime, etc. But there are also many non-socio-economic benefits.

For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light… D&C 88:40

So, the Doctrine and Covenants teach us that as we gain knowledge, we seek out and gain more knowledge, wisdom, truth, virtue and light. These are all great to have, but if learning really does lead to happiness, we must be very happy if we have knowledge, wisdom, truth, virtue and light. Cartensen acknowledges that more education leads to better problem-solving skills, and helps people have the tools needed to overcome disease and prevent illness much more than those with less education.

My primary teachers taught me that being engaged in a good cause (D&C 58:27) would help me be happy, too. Thirty years ago, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” which means that a person can get so caught up in a task that he or she loses hours and focuses solely on that task. When we are anxiously engaged in a good cause, we can lose ourselves as well. From Matthew 16:25 we learn that flow can relate to serving the God as well: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Losing our lives in service to God will help us find the life that we really want. 

It is easy to understand that learning leads to happiness, because that is one of the major points of our existence on this earth: to gain a body and learn.