Whether you’re a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen, if you want to spend the rest of your life happy, then I recommend that you ask yourself one important question every single day. Do it after you wake up every morning, stumble into the bathroom, and look yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself, “Am I a hottie?”

Pay no attention to your bed-head hairdo and the red crease running up your cheek from falling asleep on the seam of your pajama sleeve. Look past your drooping eyelids and stare straight into your eyes. See if the fire of testimony and faith continues burning deep inside your soul.

The term “hottie” is inspired by the well-loved Primary song “Jesus Wants Me for a Hottie,” which in turn was inspired by the scripture where Jesus himself tells us so. It’s Revelations 3:15, which, paraphrased, says “I would thou wert…hot.”

Most people these days have confused the term “hottie” with “haughty”, which is an entirely different thing. Haughtie comes from the French word haute which means “high”. A haughtie is someone who feels higher or superior to others or supports or his or her self-esteem by basing their value judgments on factors such as looks, clothes, cars, popularity or intelligence.

A variation on this type of haughtie is the naughtie. Naughtie is derived from the word naught, which means “nothing”. These people believe themselves to be worse than other people, but try to increase their value through the same tools as a haughtie. Either way is a sure recipe for misery and permanent insecurity.

All of us have inadvertently picked up several haughtie values, which are not in our best interest. It’s a complex world out there, after all, because, for example, it can be a very good thing to be beautiful, handsome, rich and popular. The 13th article of faith claims that we seek after these things. The point is to not let them overshadow what is truly great in this universe. Because of this complex relationship between haughties and true hotties, the most effective solution is not to talk yourself out of being a haughtie, but to talk yourself into being a hottie.

The fact is, you already know exactly how to be a hottie. You have been taught all the steps since junior Sunday school. So I’ll just give you a few reminders and perhaps a new way to look at a thing or two in your life.

The first step is to simply choose to be a hottie. Choose to serve and obey and trust the Lord. Determine to make your eye single to the glory of God. The moment you decide this, several very good things come into play on your behalf. Salvation does not magically, inexplicably happen at the moment of the final judgment, but is an ongoing process as we seek and obtain Christ’s grace. Alma 34:31 provides some scriptural evidence:

“Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer, for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.”

Remember also the Hottie Law, which states: A hottie is obedient, charitable, faithful, hopeful, prayerful, repentant, humble, happy, brave and wonderful.

Did you notice the word “happy” in there? Many people wait for something to make them happy. They wait to feel good automatically and they don’t realize that at least 30% of happiness is simply choosing to have a positive outlook. If you’re still hung up on the obedience segment, then remember that being happy is a commandment! “Be of good cheer,” said the Savior, who always goes on to supply various reasons to be happy. He doesn’t just say “Don’t worry, be happy,” but explains why and how.

The rest of happiness comes as a result of our thoughts, desires and actions. It goes hand in hand with obedience and repentance. It is a spiritual gift from a loving Heavenly Father to his children who seek to do good. Happiness and righteousness come together in the same package.

Being a half-way hottie doesn’t cut it. For example, if you temporarily give up some of the greatest pleasures in life, like water skiing on Sunday, but fail to replace them with communion with the Spirit and the joy of service and fellowship or learning, where’s the joy in that?

From now on when you look in the mirror every morning and ask yourself if you are a hottie, remind yourself also to be happy. As a hottie, whether you’re experienced or still struggling to reach the goals you aspire to, you have every reason to be happy. You know who you are, you know you have a divine support system in place, and you know why you’re on this earth and what to expect from this mortal experience…or do you?

Of course you know these facts on a mental level, but you ought to realize that such knowledge is only the tiniest baby step toward taking full advantage of such truths. You can know the precise moment of sunset by consulting your watch, but it won’t bring peace to your heart or a tear to your eye until you step outside and watch the brilliant reds, oranges and purples spread across the evening sky. All truth has a significant impact on your life only after your understanding of it has gone deep into your heart.

For example, many accept the atonement as something essential for us to be saved from sin and eternal misery and they are grateful. But does it touch every act you do and every word you speak? Has your guilt been swept away like Enos’ after he prayed all day long and into the night? Are you so utterly filled with awe, gratitude and humility at what Jesus suffered for you and the awful hell that he saved you from that you never lose your patience with your mortal brothers and sisters?

No? …Me neither. We all have a long way to go, but we can get there! The trick is figuring out how to make something so abstract become so tangible that you can feel it in your heart as you walk down the street. How can you make it so real that you can’t stop seeing the entire world through its filter? How can you get a concept like the atonement to color all your views and judgments for the rest of your life?

Besides having an experience as profound as the Sons of Mosiah’s or visions of the entire course of history as many prophets describe in the scriptures, I know of only one way. President Hinckley mentions it in his February 1999 Ensign First Presidency message entitled Life’s Obligations. In it, he details the four great obligations of life, which are the obligation to one’s vocation (or to have a vocation you enjoy), obligation to one’s family, to the Church, and to one’s self.

If you think that the obligation to one’s self sounds like self-interest, you’re correct; but probably not in the way you expected. Hinckley didn’t mention the need to have fun or get in shape or have nice things or look good or be popular or any of the other things that the world usually equates with self interest. Instead, he said, “You need time to meditate and ponder, to think, to wonder at the great plan of happiness that the Lord has outlined for His children….” He told about his father who used to walk outside and sit on a low stone fence and think and ponder. He implied that this would add an incomparable richness and fulfillment to life.

I read that article and decided that I would follow the prophet’s counsel. So the next day after work, I hiked up into the foothills below Mount Timpanogos through the snow for a few miles until I found a rock sticking out of the snow, and I sat down. The afternoon was overcast with low, gray clouds. I decided to begin my first pondering session with something I knew was important, but I also knew that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate. I decided to think about the atonement. I replayed all the events of that distant night through my mind – the garden, the intense suffering, the prayer asking to be spared from the pain, yet yielding to the Father’s will anyway. I thought about The Savior’s three best friends and how Jesus found them sleeping three times and asked them “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” I thought about being taken before Pilate and Herod and back to Pilate, how the Jews called for his death, about the flogging and the crucifixion itself.

Suddenly, the clouds in the heavens above my head didn’t part. Suddenly, the brilliant rays of heaven didn’t shine down and illuminate the rock where I sat, and a voice of thunder did not shake the ground beneath my feet and pierce me to the very core while declaring that Jesus is the Christ and Savior of all mankind.

I finally stood up and walked back down through the snowy hills to my apartment. I didn’t learn anything new that night, but when I woke up the next morning, I could tell that something had changed. The entire event meant more to me than it had before, it seemed more real, as it has ever since. It has served to soften my heart and increase my faith in God. I feel like a fool for not repeating this kind of experience much more often than I have.

Has it occurred to you that the riches of eternity do not begin after the resurrection? Eternity has already begun, and its blessings surround us right now. The only thing keeping us from them is our own ignorance of them, which makes them invisible.

Have you ever learned a new vocabulary word and suddenly it seems like everybody’s using it? The fact is, they were probably saying it all along, but it was invisible to you because you didn’t understand it and it held no meaning for you. Gospel truths are no different, and as your understanding of them increases, they will impact your life and improve it far beyond what you can currently comprehend.

If you’re always feeling rushed, take some time to ponder eternity. You will soon find it perfectly natural to feel more relaxed. And rather than procrastinating because you have “all the time in the universe,” you will feel eager and excited to begin living the same glorious way that you plan to spend forever.

If you’re having trouble making decisions about careers or majors or just feel stressed about meeting all the demands of day-to-day life, take some time to ponder the purpose of life. You will soon realize that many choices can lead to happiness and that most of the stressful details are not very important.

A friend of mine told me a story this week about putting things into proper perspective. If she or her siblings ever felt down, then on the first day, her father would sit down with her and talk and listen patiently. If she still wasn’t happy on the second day, he would say “Time to skip.” They would walk outside, link arms, and skip down the middle of the road. It’s hard not laugh doing something so ridiculous, and once you can laugh again, no problem seems quite so daunting. Just the threat of skipping was sometimes sufficient to put a big smile on her siblings faces – though whether the smile was sincere or not, I can’t say. If they still weren’t happy by the third day, they would find a bigger road to skip down.

If you’re not feeling great about yourself, if you’re having trouble seeing all you have to offer the world or the benefits of trying to be a hottie, then there’s a valuable lesson to be learned from a group of friends of mine. Have you ever met anyone so full of light that they almost glowed? These friends were happy and confident, they got along with just about everyone, and everyone loved to be around them. It was hard to be near them and not feel genuinely loved. They were wonderful at connecting with people, and when they looked you in the eye, they were able to really see who you were inside and sincerely appreciate you for that.

Before I met these people, they had moved to a new neighborhood where the culture was very different. They used to speak a different language, though most of them have a pretty good grasp on English now, but the adjustment wasn’t always easy. Their neighbors didn’t always understand them and sometimes treated them poorly. Some of these people got scared or frustrated or angry and closed their hearts off to others. Some grew tired from the effort of living in this new environment. Some grew discouraged and continued on just going through the motions with no real enthusiasm for life.

Sometimes it makes me a little sad now when I visit these friends to see everything they’ve lost. But at the same time, I see all of them growing and overcoming their challenges and regaining their inner beauty, so I have high hopes and confidence that everything will work out in the end.

It just so happens that all of you know some of these people, because they are all of us. They are you and me. The old neighborhood where we lived was, literally, Heaven, and the challenges we have faced include growing up, going to school, working, playing, dating, etc. It hasn’t always been easy, and we all carry a few scars and battle wounds. None of us has yet discovered the full extent of who we once were and who we still are on this inside.

We are angels with amnesia. The only reason we walk is because we’ve forgotten we can fly! The only reason it’s sometimes hard to pray, hard to forgive, hard to laugh, hard to love, and hard to approach every single morning with enthusiasm and overwhelming joy at the beauty of this mortal adventure is that we’ve forgotten to some extent who we are, why we’re here, and the divine support system waiting on our faith and patience to bless us.

Of course, this amnesia was no accident. You didn’t bump your head on your way down. Life is meant to be a test, but the test is OPEN BOOK! You’re supposed to know the answers to the big questions, and those answers are supposed to give you courage and confidence and make life easier and better. All that’s left is for you to study and ponder those answers until they become an integral part of you.

In President Hinckley’s closing remarks to last October’s general conference, he challenged us to “rise to the divinity within.” In other words, President Hinckley was encouraging each one of us to be a hottie.

I, for one, plan to take his advice.