Dear 100 Hour Board,
There's a certain temple covenant that I'm not sure how to follow in my day to day life. I'm not going to quote it but essentially we're told to conduct ourselves with some amount of seriousness. I have never felt like I was breaking that covenant but I think I could improve. How do you live this particular covenant in your lives?
-The Happy Medium
Babalugats gives a great answer below, I just wanted to jump on to say that it's okay, and even good, to be happy and enthusiastic. "Enthusiasm" means "God in us," and the scriptures tell us we exist to have joy, so I don't think they're things that we should avoid. There are obviously some ways that happiness and enthusiasm could go wrong, like if your jokes are at someone else's expense, or if you're blindly zealous about something without any knowledge informing it, and I think that may be what the temple covenant you're talking about is referring to. However, I also don't think it's saying to only be serious all the time. The thing is, everybody shows happiness in such different ways. Some people laugh a lot, others are quietly content, others are super smile-y. As long as they're not mean-spirited, none of those ways is better or worse, they're all just different.
Personally I try to live that covenant by just being aware of what sorts of things I look for happiness in—am I trying to be happy by just watching my favorite TV shows, or making mean/inappropriate jokes, or by doing things that actually bring meaning to my life? If I find that my sources of happiness don't line up with my values, I try to reorient myself to make sure that my happiness is based in something that I actually believe in and want to be part of my life in the long term.
I like to focus on good examples.
So I guess the trend here can be identified with a single question. Are you laughing at the prophet or next to him? (So many gospel analogies in that link.) Ideally, we would be laughing with the prophet. Like cardinal Timothy Dolan there with Elder Holland.
If you feel like you need to improve, that might be the Spirit! Follow that impression and ask what you need to change personally. I've had and shared a lot of laughter I definitely regret.
I try to make jokes that make people feel good and aren't at any one's expense. I pray for help to do that because it's honestly so so hard. I try to be more careful about what I watch and how I speak on the Sabbath. I try to stay present.
The staying present is actually a big deal for me in this commandment. In fact, let's go ahead and hang my whole understanding on it. Having a presence of mind covers all the mocking, watching bad stuff, partying like Laman and Lemuel. It serves as an antithesis to getting carried away "unto boasting", being the center of attention, saying things I don't mean, agreeing with/tolerating/laughing at mean jokes made by others. When I act as a keeper of my thoughts and attention (or allow the Spirit to act as a keeper), I come out of social situations with fewer regrets and apologies to make.
Keeping this commandment is also related to being aware of people who need us. I have seen others miss opportunities to serve and I have missed such opportunities. I've seen it with long-term laugh-seeking and with short-term. Sometimes we don't notice friends sinking into depression because we're out every weekend. Sometimes we don't talk to those who need us at church because we're having so much fun with our favorite people. Sometimes my work integrity slips because I'm laughing with coworkers.
I guess my goal is just to keep my head and be intentional with my time, words, and laughter. Though " [coming to oneself]" like the prodigal son is a powerful and positive turning point for anyone--if we never left ourselves we have much less to regret.