Ep 145 – Happiness

Panel Discussion

Posted January 4th, 2015

Are people happier after they leave the Mormon church?  Randy leads a discussion with Matt, Glenn, Bob, and two long-time listeners, Polly Anna and Jay.  Be sure to let us know what you think as well.  See you on the comments board.

  • Hanaleigh Gami Healey

    I have never been so happy in my life! My husband and I are finally on the same page after 26 years of struggling. Religion was always fulling us apart. Me being TBM and DH not so much. Once I finally opened my eyes two years ago about the church I have never looked back. DH and I are in the best relationship EVER! It has been an amazing journey.

  • Bryce Jones

    I wouldn’t call myself happier yet. But I see more potential for happiness from where I am now. I realize that my happiness depends upon me going out and making things happen. It’s not dependent upon some BS idea that I’ll be happy as long as I do these things that make me miserable.

  • Wentworth

    I know one thing after listening to the end of the show I am more sad now than I was before listening. Randy why does your choice have to be so final?

  • I am definitely happier. Being gay and being away from the homophobia and self loathing that I was immersed in definitely has something to do with it. But that aside, I would say I am happier for so many other reasons too. Leaving the bubble of Mormonism and going into the real world has made me a real person. I love being a real person and I love that people relate to me and connect with me at a real authentic level. I love being responsible for my life and not responsible for everyone else’s lives. It’s so nice not judging and measuring everyone and everything by the Mormon measuring stick. Good podcast boys! And Polly Anna. :o)

  • Craig Keeling

    I’m sad to hear Randy will be sustained an emeritus GA 🙁

    You guys said so many things in this episode that I totally identify with:

    Glenn – your lack of fear of dying, BKP “hap-penis” is awesome, and I loved the bonus content at the end.
    Randy – your anxiety, strong opinions, and (correct) taste in comedy.
    Bob – your general motivation levels before and after Mormonism.
    Polly Anna – the scoreboard in the sky no longer being real and struggling between learning useful things and Netflix.
    Jay – your response to ward leaders trying to get you to do things you don’t want to do.
    Matt – the big dick joke 😉 – but seriously, living in and appreciating the moment… if happiness must be defined, I define it that way.

    Thanks for another great one today.

    • Elder Vader

      Craig, the thing that blows my mind is that LDS people don’t realize that I’ve read through their playbook 1,000,000 times. I honestly don’t think they know I can see what they are up to.

      And they get pissed off when their jedi mind tricks don’t work on me. That Bishop and First Counselor came into my house in an unbelievably culturally imperialistic frame. If their nearest Baptist preacher had come into their house and said similar things to what they said to me… they would have been unbelievably pissed off.

      And then they left my house honestly feeling that I was persecuting them. It was so weird.

  • Douglas Taylor

    1:04… “I lost that scoreboard in the sky and I’m less motivated…”

    Seriously Pollyanna… that is Fucking GENIUS! Holy doodle you just summed up the last 20 years of my life.

  • RPete99

    My first kids are triplets and people always ask me how I managed three babies. They think it must’ve been harder as babies. But it’s not easier–over time we outgrew challenges for new ones. That’s the way I see post Mo. It’s not necessarily a “happier” life–it’s just different. (For me anyways.)

  • smokemaster

    I left the church 22 years ago, and it was by far the best decision i ever made. The church is so much about indoctrination and instilling fear that people are afraid to leave, but very, very few exmos I have encountered ever regretted it.

  • Janet

    Great episode as usual, thought provoking – and made me happy. . . After 3 hours I wondered if it was ever going to end until I realized I was listening to another episode.

  • LDSlite

    Great episode. Glad Polly pushed through the immediate sort of rejection because her story really sparked a good discussion.
    Re: BKP. When I was at BYU in the theater/film Dept. I got a job as BKP’s stand-in for some fireside chat kind of thing (a stand-in is just there to set light levels etc so the main actors don’t have to waste their time).
    As I’m not a respecter of persons” ( ie. smart@$$ ) I messed with him as often as possible.
    He must have been puzzled seeing I was dressed like him (they even sprayed my hair to be his color), so at one point he asked me what my job was. Straight faced I said, “I’m your stunt double.” No reaction, so I continued,”There’s a scene later where you jump from a train, and I’ll do the actual jumping,” just matter of fact. Once you commit to “yanking” an apostle, you have to stick with it. From him, no expression, just like I told him what time it was. Odd, but entertaining to my ADD brain to watch his face as I tried to imagine what he was thinking.

  • Elder Vader

    Great episode. Thanks for allowing me to participate. I was kind of rattled due to audio issues, and also before recording I had just had a bit of a strange experience with some TBM’s in my local circle of friends. So, story time…

    So we got invited over for dinner to the home of some friends of ours who are active LDS people. Like I referenced on the podcast, our local friends have sort of changed how they treat us, now that they know we are deceived by Stan and in a state of open disbelief about the truth claims of Mormonism. So we go to dinner and who else is invited to dinner? That’s right. The missionaries. And after dinner, we all sat down to sit through a first discussion.

    Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not threatened by this kind of thing. In my view, the truth claims of Mormonism fall so flat as to be just plain silly. I’m not concerned about them ‘getting my kids’ or anything like that. Also, my oldest, who is in middle school, has been getting in mini-arguments with fundamentalist super-christians at lunchtime, and I decided I would use this as an opportunity to model how to treat his super-christian friends at school.

    Also, I’ve been out of the church long enough, I was curious to see what changes, if any, have made it into the missionary curriculum since last time I checked. So here is a sampling of some of the silly things said by the missionaries. I swear I am not making any of this up:
    – The Romans didn’t like Jesus’ message of peace and happiness so they crucified him. (“Hey, this guy is in favor of peace and happiness! Lets kill him!”)
    – After the great apostasy, there wasn’t any way for God to tell his truths to people on earth. That’s why we need prophets.
    – Now Gods authority on earth is restored, so God can tell truth to his prophets directly, and that way we don’t have to worry about being wrong as long as we follow the prophet.
    – Everything in the Book of Mormon is 100% true.
    – The best way to learn truth is to read the Book of Mormon.

    I just hope that the missionaries counted the discussion to my family as teaching a discussion to non-members on their stats. Its hard enough to keep their taskmasters happy.

    Anyway, again. Thanks for letting me participate. I had fun. Thanks for editing the audio to make me sound better than I actually sounded.

    • Orrin Dayne

      Great job on the podcast. Your typo above (“they know we are deceived by Stan” made me smile. It doesn’t sound so ominous if you’re just deceived by Stan.

  • Carson

    I’d love to get a link to the study cited about the happiness results in a U curve with orthodox and totally out people being equally happy and the more of a middle road you take the less happy you are. Anyone have that?

  • Holly

    I mostly agree with Randy’s point about belief not being a choice, and at the same time I still kinda want to think it is. We are products of our experiences and our DNA. Our brain dishes up options and answers to things based on what it’s been filled with through the course of our life, as well as what we luckily or unluckily got in the genetic lottery. I like how Sam Harris explained it in Free Will I think it was. He tells you to pick a city. After you think of one he asks why you picked that city, and why not Dubai or London. Why THAT city? You probably had 3 or 4 come to mind, and for some reason selected the one you did from that batch. But your brain gave you those 3 or 4 to you by no will of your own. No choice. If we switched places with someone atom for atom we would make all the same “choices” as that person because we would BE that person. However, I like the idea that we have more power than that. I just don’t know that we do.

  • Mike

    Another great episode. One of your best. I think it was Bob that mentioned that he has lost the drive that he had before. That describes me to a T. There are so many things that I want to do, read, see, etc. that I find myself spinning in circles. Finite time is staring me in the face and I realize that I need to make time count.

    On a side note, how did I miss (until this episode) that Randy was leaving? Noooo! I’m waiting for the official “if any one opposes, please manifest by the same sign” so I can raise my hand and say “I object.” 🙂

  • Mike B.

    Thanks for sharing so much of your ‘raw selves’ on this podcast. I think it is helpful for so many exMos to hear about the real emotional issues. Matt, were your referring to the Psychology of Optimal Experience, known as Flow? (http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en). Mihaly Csikszentmihaly did a fascinating study on this stuff and concluded that those who are ‘happiest’ are consistently experiencing: 1) An interesting challenge 2) A plan of action to deal with the interesting challenge and 3) Focused, consistent execution of that plan of action. He found that as he looked through the classifications of people he surveyed, quadriplegics reported the highest levels of ‘Flow’ (Optimal Experience or happiness). Why? Because every single day, from getting out of bed, to putting on clothes, consists of those three key elements. Anyways, psychology is my professional field, so I thought I would chime in.
    Another comment, about this podcast. It seems like you all were actually discussing life purpose or identity, rather than simply ‘happiness’.
    I have only been out of the church a year and a half, and I honestly have never felt more authentically happy, whether or not it can be measured as ‘happier’. But, it’s because, starting on my mission, I was dedicated to Mormonism because I thought I ‘knew’ Joseph was a Prophet and the church was true. However, I did not enjoy the 3-hour block, focus on tedium-such as work for the dead, genealogy, meaningless ‘callings’, etc. I was always worried about my ‘worthiness’ and felt a lot of shame and guilt regarding normal human things. I also spent a lot of time among GA families and did not like the corporate feel of the church. I held on because I thought the foundation was true. Once I realized that the foundation was false, it was a huge relief to not have to participate in the current organization. My identity and life’s purpose was becoming more and more separated from the current institution. Now that I’m out of the church, I can authentically be myself, pave my own identity and focus on what I believe is my life’s purpose. This doesn’t mean that I’m always happy, but, life is MUCH more real and fulfilling. That seems to be the underlying topic here.
    Thanks, for another good podcast!

  • Joe M

    The whole question of whether belief is a choice fascinates me. For a long time I thought that I chose to believe. I chose to keep watering that seed and doing all those things you do when you believe, waiting for some sort of plant to sprout. I chose to believe. I turned that part of my brain off that asked the questions that strayed too close to the line. At least I thought I chose to believe. Thinking back on things though, I was making a choice to do the things that a believer does, I was ignoring my doubts, I was denying my disbelief. None of these choices ever lead to belief though. Over the last year I have kind of honed in on the idea expressed in the “Gifts of the Spirit” that there are those who are blessed with faith. I apparently am not one of those who was so blessed. As an atheist I reject the notion that there are any such spiritual gifts. Perhaps I should more properly say that I don’t feel there is a good reason for me to believe in spiritual gifts. It seems to me though, the more I think about it, that there must be something in human nature that makes some people believe. There are a lot of people with a lot more brains than I have who make it work. Either they are incredibly gifted at self-deception, or there is something about them that predisposes them to belief. It is a fascinating question.

    On a different note, I left religion about 5 and 1/2 years ago. I realized that something about the Mormon god concept just didn’t make sense. I looked at the other options from among the “Big 3” (didn’t really venture into any of the other religions out there) and concluded that none of it really seemed to work. I saw a whole lot of mythologies that had their strengths and weaknesses, but I did not see truth. It was not until last summer, with the whole John and Kate mess, that I really got interested in Mormonism, or I suppose ex-Mormonism. For years I felt pretty much alone. Then, in the realms of the internet, mainly through podcasts, I realized that there are a lot of people out there like myself. I made my way through the various Mormon themed podcasts, at least those that had a skeptical bent, and eventually I came upon Infants on Thrones. I forget how. Must have shown up in iTunes suggestions or something. I still appreciate several of the other podcasts out there and listen to them more or less religiously, but this one is by far my favourite. I think I have listened to most of the episodes several times. Maybe because I am a 35 year old, temple-married, RM, male, who attended BYU, so I relate to a lot of what you all talk about. Whatever the reason, I appreciate all the work and effort that you all put into this podcast.

  • mindog

    I really appreciate these lines of discussion. I know, for me, that leaving mormonism has left me feeling more open about the possibilities out there, while recognizing how many I likely lost to living in it so long…while also recognizing that if there hadn’t been mormonism, then I wouldn’t be here..but then again…I wouldn’t know it..

    I am far more relieved that I no longer have that sense that I am responsible to anyone, especially anyone as capricious as a god, beyond the responsibilities I take on through my choices. That if I don’t see a good reason for holding to a principle or practice, I can let it go and grab onto something that better suits what I think is more rational.

    At the same time I do see that in some ways I’ve lost some of that fire for a lot of what I’ve been doing personally and professionally and I’ve had to go through and rethink my original motivations, current activities and future goals. I’m nearly 2 years out of the church (do I get a dishonorable release?) and I think my life has been far improved as a result even if I’m less certain about what it is I want or should want. I do wish that this opportunity to remake myself had come about ten years earlier, but all we have is now.

  • TheProfessor

    Thanks for covering this topic. It reminded me of the first Friday Forum I went to at Institute, since they covered the exact same topic. As someone who was really in the midst of being in the middle in terms of what I believe and not being what I’d call happy, I kind of didn’t know what to think. I’ve adjusted, but I’m sure

    I will say though, as weird as it may sound, Institute does make me “happy.” The friends I have, even if they’re only a consequence of me being a novelty as a nevermo, the interactions I’ve gotten to have, the ability to walk to the outskirts of my campus and go to a place that I like to think of as a refuge (again, I know that must seem weird), and like, free food, which is what every college student wants.

    The thing is, I probably wouldn’t be as happy if I were actually Mormon. I probably have a better deal out of going to Institute as a nevermo than any TBM there, because I can take the good and leave the obvious BS behind, without having to have a “shelf” or anything. And so I think it’s one of those things where the church might not be good, but it can be made useful in certain cases. Go figure.

    – Your friendly Nevermo listener, Carmen

    PS Randy, your input to the discussions will be missed. I wish you well on all of your future endeavors.

    • TheProfessor

      Didn’t finish my thought:
      I’ve adjusted mostly, but despite that, I go though the same moments of unhappiness or being unsatisfied because I still don’t believe something wholly.

  • carabellie

    Several episodes back, Randy used a phrase which seems to resurface in my thoughts and conversations over and over. He said: “Earn your position.” This was very powerful for me. Rather than looking at how happy I am now, or what I believe or don’t believe, I am content to look at the next several years as a time for me to earn my position and make meaning of my life. I suppose in a similar way we all need to Earn Our Happiness. It is no longer packaged and delivered to us daily. I loved the book by Bertrand Russell entitled The Conquest of Happiness. I believe there are objective steps one can take that will increase happiness. In many ways we tend to frame the issue as a comparison of happiness before and after mormonism when perhaps the question to be considered is really swirling about in the sentiments we all share regarding a general loss of ambition and marked tendency toward mindless entertainment, soon after leaving the church. As I have tried to pry myself away (often unsuccessfully) from Game of Thrones marathons and the like, I have encountered some profound vistas, but not nearly enough. There is something to be said for a balance of quiet contemplative rhythm and social interaction in life punctuated by several splashes of excitement along the way, as advocated by Russell and others. But as Polly Anna and Bob aptly described the allure of entertainment variety in 2015, its not quite so simple. Perhaps our happiness is as much a function of the times in general, as much as it is of losing our faith. Thanks to all!

  • Doug

    The easter egg section at the end was the best! You guys had me totally cracking up during my commute. Jay in a can and Polly the retarded robot.

  • Craig S.

    Am I the only one who thought that they were joking when they were talking about this being Randy’s last episode? I thought it was a callback to the Mormon Stories interview. I will be sad if Randy isn’t on anymore, but I still expect him back next week, because I don’t trust anything Glenn says to be serious. 🙂

    • Glenn

      Everything I say is a lie.

      (which means I just told you a lie)

      ((which also means it wasn’t a lie))

  • MichaelGonda

    I loved this podcast. He probably doesn’t want to hear it, but I am also sad that Randy is saying goodbye. As one who often disagrees with him and gets large amount of amusement hearing the rest of the quorum give him crap, in this particular episode I realized that in many ways we are alike. I can relate to a lot of Randy’s thoughts on happiness, on having an overanxious mother, and being overanxious myself.

    This has been a realization that has been both liberating and disempowering all at once – that the church cannot make me happy, but neither can leaving the church. Though I inflicted a lot of guilt on myself in my believing days because I thought I shouldn’t be anxious or depressed if I was living the gospel the right way, after I realized it most of it was not what I believed, suddenly I didn’t have that convenient scapegoat. You know, I was sad because Satan wanted me to feel that way, or I was sad because god is testing me, or because I am not living the commandments the right way. You mean I am in control and responsible for my own happiness? That is a sobering thought.

    Thanks for the laughs! How many songs with “happy” in the title did Glenn put in there anyway??

  • Josh

    Best episode yet….haven’t felt so “normal” in a long time.

    • Polly Anna

      See that guys! This is the best episode yet. Not saying anything, just saying….

  • Orrin Dayne

    Don’t joke about Randy leaving. No one wants this Randy love fest. Not even Randy.

  • Cyn

    This was a fabulous thought provoking episode. I want to comment on just one point. I don’t think you can choose to believe. I do think that you can choose not to acknowledge the facts that would cause you to disbelieve. As someone who has done both, I can tell you that staying in the church after you suspect that you have been deceived and abused is the same as staying in a loveless marriage, to a spouse that you suspect is unfaithful. There are good reasons not to find out for sure. You know that your world will change and you’re not sure what the new world will be like. There are, however, consequences to living with a lie of omission. It is soul crushing. In the end it feels like when you’re playing hide and seek and you breath shallow breaths so that the person who is “it” won’t hear you breath. When you are finally discovered, you’re not happy to be found, you don’t want to be “it”, but you’re relieved to be able to breath. I don’t know that I am either happier or less happy now that I’m no longer religious. Some things are better others are not, but I am at peace.

    On those occasions when I lament that there is no life after this and this life is three quarters over, I remind myself that it was always so. My believing in an after life didn’t make it real. Someday, I will be no more than memories. It is my task to make those memories warm, comforting, funny and yes, happy.

  • One of the Other Mothers

    I like Polly! And her essay (or whatever it was.) I’d hang out with her if she’d let me (even if she’s not going to be a goddess…and shit.) But whatevs.

    • Polly Anna

      We can hang out, but I bet you don’t live in Michigan. 🙂

  • One of the Other Mothers

    During the podcast, it occurred to me that leaving Mormonism could be likened to having an orgasm. All that tension comes to a head, and a person is basically ejaculated out of the situation that was causing them so much stress. After being out of the church for awhile, the person might realize that leaving the LDS religion was just one thing, not THE thing, and life goes on. AND…Hopefully it’s not their last (or only) orgasm. 0_o

  • Heather_ME

    When Randy says that one doesn’t choose belief or disbelief, he’s not saying there is no change. There IS change. We all once believed and now we don’t. But we didn’t CHOOSE it. It happened to us. It’s a reaction to stimuli. We only claim we controlled that reaction to stimuli by labeling it “choice.” They’ve researched this. There have been studies where people’s brains are stimulated to do something involuntary. Like, say, raise their arm straight up. Then they ask the person why that happened and the person provides a “rational” explanation for why they chose to raise their arm. And they truly believe that’s why their arm went up. It’s the same thing with belief. We encounter information and we react to it, like an electrical probe shocking our brain. Then our arm goes up (we either bleieve or we don’t) and we say, “Oh, I totally CHOSE to do that.”

    • Glenn

      Did the arm-raising participants choose to participate in that study, or were they just automatronically responding to an ad in a newspaper?

      • Answering with Heather’s words, participating in the study was just a reaction to a stimuli (seeing an ad in the newspaper) based on who that person already is.

        I really like Heather’s articulation of this concept (it makes more sense to me now), but Glenn, if we keep peeling back the layers of the onion, it does seem to get reductive pretty fast… I’m not sure I’m ready to say that every way we react to every fork in the road is explained by this involuntary concept…

        • Glenn

          We’ll have this discussion in a couple of weeks — I still have a lot to read up on the ideas and I’m interested in them — but I suspect the causational onion peeling goes both ways here.

          But we seem to have gotten away from the moment in this episode that stimulated my pushback in the first place. It was Randy’s dismissive attitude towards Bushman’s claim of choosing to believe in Joseph Smith despite all the dirt he knows about him.

          Randy’s explanation is that Bushman is just fooling himself — essentially saying that he knows better than Bushman himself what is REALLY going on in Bushman’s brain. I’m not comfortable with that approach. And I prefer to find another way to try and understand what Bushman is claiming — and I prefer to start by believing what he is saying (am I choosing to believe Bushman here? Raise your hand if you think I’m just post-hoc explaining my involuntary brain response!)

          I’m just not convinced that choice is only an illusion — just a post hoc narrative to validate an involuntary uncontrollable brain reflex. But like I said — I have a lot of reading to do on this — I’m very ignorant of these studies and the whole Doxastic Involunterism thing. I’m looking forward to learning more about it, and I am really looking forward to exploring these ideas in a future episode.

      • garyu

        Glenn, you are arguing against pre-determinism, which is not what Randy was arguing for. Randy was arguing for determinism and that still leaves room for choice. The problem is making the actual choice is like 10 percent of the “free will” and 90 percent determined through a causal chain of complexity.

        Most of the time our sub conscious has already made the decision for us because of determining factors and we grant ourselves the illusion that we are freely making this choice when the reasoning is simply ad hoc.

        A great explanation I have seen is to look at choice like creation from ex nihilo. We are not God and we are not creating a free will choice out of nothing. Free will in essence argues for ex nihilo choices while determinism argues that no choices can ever be created from nothing.

  • Desert Rat

    Very grateful for this discussion. I don’t know if belief is a choice or not. All I know is that the very moment I allowed myself to think, “Hey, this all might not be true,” was the moment that I knew it wasn’t. Having the thought was a choice, and WHAM the belief changed immediately.

    On the issue of happiness, I think about this all the time. No one is ever always happy. Just like any emotion its fleeting. However, overall one might be able to determine if there is more satisfaction, peace and opportunity for happiness being out of the church or in. I know that even with the inherent difficulties and pitfalls that I’ve encountered on that journey, I can unequivocally say that I like life better being out than being in. Just to have the guilt gone was worth it.

    I still struggle with replacing my purpose in life with something that makes as much sense as the fantasy of the gospel purported. Even though I was far from perfect, I always held onto the hope that Jesus would somehow forgive me for all the shit I did and didn’t do and that in the end I could expect to be granted exaltation. That sort of made my half assed efforts of being a mormon and getting through the struggles of life worthwhile, thinking maybe I could get that eternal reward.

    Now, though, with that fantasy gone life looks and feels much different. Speeding toward an unknown end, knowing that whatever contribution I make here will be dead and buried with me almost as soon as I am… that is my struggle now. Focusing on the day to day, moment to moment seems to be the only way to make much sense of things at this point.

  • Aaron

    “I am not an enthusiastic atheist. I just don’t feel like I have a choice in the matter.” Great quote.

    • Anissa R.


    • Barry Toone

      Wow. Great indeed … (Other than a similar line from the late, great C. Hitchens, I am not sure I have heard it stated better).

  • abury

    Happiness is the wrong title for this discussion. Judging from comments about benefits of leaving, You might have called it “Affiliation Felt so Good” or “Group-Think Made Me Feel Smart” or “Safety in Numbers” or “I Used To Have Friends” or even “Why am I such a shallow person now?”

    I would hate for a seeker of truth and happiness to hear this episode and think “Is that all there is?” Yea, I realize that Infants On Thrones is meant to entertain and even broaden horizons, but this could have been a terrific mind blowing discussion between people who have found out that authentic happiness is not provided by promises made by a doctrine or affiliation with a group or even another person.

    The way we act when we feel rudderless is a very interesting topic. Actually the way we react to leaving the Church is telling about ourselves. Maybe we have found that we were too reliant on the barriers that seemed to protect us, and we might create a whole new set of unhealthy barriers that keep us from finally reaching from within and using our own innate spirituality and intelligence to navigate life and relationships.

    Your recent episode called “The Problem Makers” was brilliant. I would say that the problem of “happiness” is like the Coca-Cola Santa – marketing wizardry that may never be totally debunked. Think about the often repeated, “Wickedness was never happiness” What a stupid tag line. Who created that problem? Are we to think to ourselves… “Awe crap I wanted to be wicked AND happy!”

    I can appreciate the comment “The true answer is I CANT go back”. Of course you can’t un-know stuff or feign belief. But if you are grieving a loss there, you need to keep moving forward. You may feel like you have crossed over, but you might just still be running along the other bank of that river, cursing it, blaming it, and you might even be building a dam that lies between you and your believing family and friends. The Troll sits on both sides of that bridge – stop enabling that Troll on the outside. He doesn’t have a permit. He isn’t Satan. He is just the guy who always needed to be told what to do and how to think. Now he’s kind of a looser, obsessed with how he has been wronged. He’s probably not very happy.

    I put in my time wondering if I was happy, feeling terrified supposing that we are all doomed. I felt isolated from family and it was killing me. That is when I thought to myself, “maybe its all my own fabrication?”. It wasn’t until I allowed the love and trust to flow both ways between me and my TBM family and friends, that I realized that it had remained strong and effective as it ever was. The belonging was not as tied to doctrine as much as I first thought it was. It has been a pretty difficult 4 years, but the past 2 have been ones of reconstruction and growth. I am realizing that the parts of me that are: humor, spirit, intuition, passion, creativity and love are the very same drives that have been with me all of my life.

    Amy Bury

    Mormon Cred: Born in 1955 into super-close and very happy large family, all active in a correlated church. Went to June Conference and Dance Festivals, Graduated from early morning seminary, Helped with Building Funds, At age 14, ate Sloppy-Joes with Carolyn Pearson who was a college aged guest artist at a youth conference in Oklahoma, Was given an author signed copy of “Added Upon” as a gift right after I received my patriarchal blessing as a teen. I packed that book around with me even to college. When the play, “Saturday’s Warrior” came out I realized that it was a 70’s version of the book. Married in the Salt Lake Temple, raised 5 children fully participating and serving in my local ward. Many callings, including early morning seminary teacher for years. My testimony was based on an earnest inner longing for truth, which ultimately led me to re-ask some hard questions at age 54. If my good parents would have had the same access to information that I have, they might also have made a transition away from orthodoxy and belief in the one true gospel. It was rough going at my age, with so many to consider, but after leaving I do remain intact. I have a deep abiding love and understanding for believing Mormons. These are (some of ) my people.

    • Polly Anna

      I agree with you, and I was on this episode! There was a part that was cut out near the end where I was like, “Was any of this usable? This resolved nothing for me.” It was still a fun discussion. Sorry it disappointed.

  • Allison

    Is it even accurate to say “I AM HAPPIER…(fill in the blank)”? I think life is made up of so many little moments, and it depends on which moment I’m in when you ask me if I’m happier now. This is me, eating my words when I commented to Randy that I am happier now that I feel awake to the truth of what Mormonism is. But that was in that moment of my life when I … 1. Felt happy because of many other things going on in my life at the time. 2. Actually felt that I did know the truth of what Mormonism is (which is something that at other times I have great difficulty defining) and 3. Liked to argue with Randy.

    That moment was followed by subsequent moments of sadness (a brief depression, in all honesty) induced by various things that have thankfully passed. In those moments, I didn’t feel happier as an ex mormon.

    Maybe I’m being pedantic or difficult here. It’s interesting to discuss it though, and I love hearing what everyone thinks about it. I’m just not sure anyone can really definitively make that kind of comparative statement about themselves. Life is too complex to reduce down to a word that is mostly “penis” and only a little “Hah.”

    • Wendy

      I kept thinking of learning the truth about Mormonism as watching a documentary on genocide in Rwanda. It bums your shit, and you’re not necessarily happier after knowing it, but it is important to know and no one (unless they have no intellectual curiosity at all) would say they wished they’d never found out. It sucks, and we all give up something when we leave, but it puts us on the path of becoming a more well-rounded, empathetic person.

  • E Poirier

    I’m about 30 minutes into this episode, so maybe this gets discussed later… I find myself agreeing with most of what has been said so far. But, then at the same time having a really hard time saying I’m *not* happier than I was before.I think a lot of the talk about how much happier individuals are after leaving the church is in comparison to the time between the beginning of their cog-dis or discovery that the church isn’t true to the point they actually let it all go. I couldn’t imagine going back to it all now with the current knowledge and emotions I have since coming to the conclusion that it isn’t true. It would be hell. It would definitely make me much less happy than I am now.

  • Anissa R.

    Great episode! I have been stewing over Randy’s comments about being more or less happy post-mormonism too since that episode. So many of the points made were what I had been wanting to express. I agree in one point about why is happiness the main goal in life. It isn’t. But we all want it so bad. What value do we put on it? How do you quantify such and objective state?

    The documentary Happy was great, as well as the Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. I kept thinking about those during the podcasts. Check them out. “Happy” makes a good case for amount of material wealth after basic needs are met have no bearing on how happy someone is. It also qualifies what they measure as happiness. So much has to do with biology and genes or whether you went through tough things in your formative years, among others. I am lucky with chemistry that makes me in a pretty good mood most of the time. I have been through some traumatic stuff and I always come back to my equilibrium. Of course, exercise, food, activities, stressful circumstances, medication and more can improve or deplete “happiness”. (some of this was from Haidt book)

    After the John Dehlin interview I realized I am not more happy now. In some ways I am better off. But I daydream about taking a different color pill or putting myself back in the matrix. That is just frustrating to contemplate because it is impossible. “Like wishing for a 12 in. dick”. I am happy without a dick, but I loved that point because, for reals, wishing doesn’t make it so. I can not un-know what I know. Then more good discussion happened when you guys talked about Richard Bushman. Sometimes someone can have all the same knowledge as me and still believe. And I don’t think it is about just literally choosing to “pretend” you believe. In some way, they do, and that, we can not understand. There is a switch of final doubt (not questioning your belief, absolute doubt), that once it has been flipped you can not go back. That switch is different for everyone. Some people will doubt when they hear troubling things, some need a culmination of information, some need a specific life experience, some already had the propensity for doubt in their genes, and so on. I think about replicating what it was for me for others I wish would understand and go through it too. But then I know it wouldn’t work for them. And do I really want to do that to them? I guess it depends on the person. Some believers need a wake up call, others I think are fine the way they are.

    I think I read a comment about if this podcast was qualifying if we post mormons are happier than Mormons. Really, wasn’t it about if we individually are happier than our formerly believing selves? There is something to be said about ignorance is bliss. Sigh. But that is not my reality. I have a zeal to enjoy the here and now, now that I know I only have now. “It is always now.” Now (just wanted to type that word again).

    And who wondered if believers really don’t fear death. Most everyone does. They can’t fight evolution no matter how much they believe. If they get in a close call car wreck they will have their heart pumping and nerves shot as they are scared out of their minds. We evolved to want to survive and help those around us survive. We evolved to hate and fear death… hence the many religions that give solace that we won’t “really die”.

    Also, Pollyanna, have you read a short stay in hell? That will cure your desire for eternal life. Even vampire sex can get tedious after a few billion years. It is a great, short read. And I am with you are stressing more about aging, and why you procrastinate at times. See, I am spending an embarrassing amount of time on this comment that maybe two people will read instead of finishing the Daniel Dennet book or folding the damn laundry! 😉

    (I think I just gave the longest comment of my life. I am going to decide to be happy about that…. 😉 )

    • Polly Anna

      I may get bored of vampire sex, travelling the world, reading all the books ever written, and watching all the tv, movies, and theater ever written, and generally just doing whatever I want, but I’d take a couple thousand years to test the theory. 😉

      • Anissa R.

        Yes, I imagine being able to live in the thousands of years for that! But then I wonder how I would feel after several trillion years, which is just a fraction of an eternity. Mind boggling amount of time to imagine. But, if we are always living in the present moment maybe we wouldn’t want it to end. ?? 🙂

  • At the end of The History Boys, in a sort of surrealistic “where are they now?” embedded-sequel-like epilogue, Posner says, “. . . I can’t say I’m happy . . . but I’m not unhappy.” That’s how I feel most of the time: I’m not unhappy. That’s the impression I got from more than one of the podcast participants: They’re not unhappy. And that’s fine, if you ask me.

  • Dave Sonntag

    Great discussion. Nice overlap on concept of “flow,” see On Point’s recent program with Csikszentimihaliyi (chick sent me high, cue Tal Bachman).