5 Highlights for “Hallmarks of Happiness” by Elder Sabin

by | Nov 19, 2023

Older married couple in formal office clothes

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Wonderful talk! I understand why it was so popular in the polls. Elder Sabin’s General Conference talk contains stories and important but overlapping principles. This was extra hard to turn into a lesson because it is strung together tightly and repeats the same gospel concepts.

When I segmented all the possible quotes and directions one could take, I came up with twelve highlights. We only have time for five AT BEST. So, I went with the five that covered the most essential concepts in the talk and will allow for the greatest variety of discussion.

You can find his full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by Gary B. Sabin (unless otherwise noted).

Lesson Prep

  • Please don’t worry if you only get through a couple of quotes. Spiritual discussion is golden; it resonates and teaches more than a lecture covering all points will.
  • If the discussion gets too secular, pull it back to the quotes and a spiritual tone…naturally and with tact.
  • Encourage discussion by accepting all reasonable answers. Validate people for participating and be thankful they spoke up. Engage with the answer in a conversational way whenever it feels natural. Never say, “We haven’t got to that part of the lesson yet.”
  • If a lesson takes a different turn, roll with it. The Spirit intends for you to be successful.

Printable Files

Quote #1 (intro story)

This story is an excellent warm-up and intro to the lesson. Elder Sabin invokes our compassion and empathy towards others and ourselves.

Quick/short discussion questions: What stands out from Elder Sabin’s story? Can you relate to Justin?

Quote #2 (foundation)

Possible discussion questions: Who is the crowd, and which way do they move? What is the foundation that Elder Sabin mentions? What does following the Savior with all your heart mean to you? What does that look like? If the Savior is your foundation, what qualities and attributes might you have? (accept all reasonable answers – compassion, etc.) Why must we be “earnestly striving” to come to the Savior? (accept all reasonable answers – the world’s gravity is too strong and will pull us down.)

Quote #3 (compassion)

Briefly sum up the movie theater story in 2-3 sentences. Elder Sabin’s family went to the movie theater after a skunk incident. They had washed everyone down and thought they got rid of the odor because their noses became desensitized to the smell. As a result, everyone in the theater moved away from them.

Possible discussion questions: What can we learn from Elder Sabin’s experience? (accept all reasonable answers – for me – we all sin plenty, and we need to treat each other with kindness and respect and not dwell on others’ flaws and shortcomings.) If our sins had odors, is there anyone who would not have a smell at Church? How would that affect you if everyone could smell your sins at Church? Might we be more compassionate and less judgmental? What does it mean to have compassion? Is compassion more something we feel or something we do? (Notice President Nelson uses the word “treat” when referring to compassion.)

compassion: warm-heartedness, mercy, tolerance, empathy, care

Quote #4 (gratitude)

Optional intro: Briefly summarize his daughter Jennifer’s operation story in 2-3 sentences. Elder Sabin had a 16-year-old daughter named Jennifer who needed a dangerous double lung transplant. After the operation, when they removed the ventilator, she took a deep breath and cried with emotion. She said, “It’s just so good to breathe.”

Possible activity: Give class members a piece of paper/pencil and have them quickly write down three small things they are grateful for that they haven’t thought of lately. It doesn’t matter how small it is

Possible discussion questions: Would someone like to share something they wrote down that they haven’t thought of with gratitude for a while? How does it feel to be around an ungrateful person? How does gratitude or ingratitude affect your inner thoughts and moods? What has been your personal experience with gratitude? Have you ever gotten a thank you note for something you did? How did it feel? When is a good time to express gratitude? (accept all reasonable answers – prayer, daily to family/friends, online, cards/letters, etc.)

Quote #5 (covenants)

In reality, the greatest happiness and blessing of mortality will be found in who we have become through God’s grace as we make and keep sacred covenants with Him. Our Savior will polish and refine us through the merits of His atoning sacrifice and has said of those who willingly follow Him, “They shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.”

Possible discussion questions: What covenants and ordinances help bring you grace? What does it mean to be his jewel? (accept all reasonable answers – those who have been polished and refined by sacred covenants, ordinances, and repentance) What does God’s “grace” mean to you?


Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Sabin’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

What a fantastic lesson for discussion. Elder Sabin gifts us with keys to happiness. We probably knew all of them – but we need reminding in this unhappy world. Thank you for preparing yourself to teach/discuss this lesson. I’m grateful for teachers like you! who reach out as they prepare. You gift your group with much-needed interaction and reflection. If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.Please put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.

PDFs for Download – click the blue link to view online.

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1 Comment

  1. Patricia Denny

    Shawnie Cannon,
    I want to express my gratitude for your insights and guidance about elder Sabin’s incredible talk. You are amazing!
    Thank you so very much for your help!


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