Saturday, February 15, 2020

Be Still and Know



Life has a way of knocking us in the head sometimes. We think that we know where we are going and what we are doing, and then something happens that leaves us stunned. We wonder who we really are and what our purpose is in this life.

We stop for a moment and think about what we are doing. We see the people, things, and activities with which we have filled our lives and ask some important questions. Am I truly happy? Is there meaning and purpose in the choices I have made? Am I doing those things that God would have me do?

In her book The Fear Cure, Lissa Rankin, MD, speaks of the space between thoughts, and how our ability to capture and capitalize upon this space allows us to experience peace and happiness in our daily lives, as well as overcome the negative emotions that threaten to consume us.

During a restless night prior to a musical performance, I remembered this principle. Slowing down my thoughts just enough to find this empty space, I suddenly found myself basking in the warmth of God’s unconditional love. It was as if the clouds had parted and warm sunshine was streaming into my consciousness. My anxious heart calmed and I was able to rest peacefully.

Now, in the wake of a family illness, I seek that same reassurance that I am loved, and that there is meaning and purpose in my life. I remember the scripture in Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” For a brief moment, I once again enter that blessed space that has become my salvation, that stillness of mind and heart that allows me to experience God’s unconditional love.

This is the love that is home. We knew it before we came here. We are God’s children and lived with him before this life. It is the love that carries us through the storms and tempests that threaten to destroy us. It is the love that when we leave here, will rise with us into the great beyond as we return home once again to his arms, fresh and new from the rebirth that we call death.

There, time will cease to carry its poignant reminders of our insignificance and nothingness. Our petty worries and the aches and pains of this life will be no more, and what we glimpse in those quiet moments of stillness will be ours, to have and hold, forever!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Finding the Motivation



“I don’t care. I just don’t want to do it, that’s all.” There, I said it, the forbidden words that I have been thinking. Now what? Does that mean that I don’t have to do it? Am I off the hook? Is that all there is to it, just saying “I don’t want to?”

There are many things in life that are difficult. Jim Rohn, success philosopher, tells us that one of the most important aspects of being human is the ability to “make ourselves” do what needs to be done. How does this happen? He says that when we find enough reasons, then our wants and desires change.

Motivation is all about finding the reasons. Dallin H. Oaks indicates that there are basically six reasons for us to act. He lists the following: 1) hope of earthly reward, 2) desire for good companionship, 3) fear of punishment, 4) sense of duty, 5) hope of eternal reward, and 6) love.
Although Oaks lists these as reasons for service, they have a lot to do with our lives in general. 

Reasons motivate action. If we have enough reasons, we will find a way to make happen what we want. If one of our family members is faced with certain death, we find a way to prolong their life because we want them to remain with us as long as possible.

How does this apply to everyday? Our reasons come from our past experience. When we suffer the consequences of inaction, we are more highly motivated to action. In other words, “no pain, no gain!” We don’t decide to set an alarm and get up on time until the boss cuts our pay or fires us for being late to work!

Desiring change is usually the catalyst for increased motivation. If things are going well in life, we have little incentive to change. The Lord tells us in Alma 32:13-16* that being “compelled to be humble” is   good, but it is even better to change willingly “without stubbornness of heart.”

Motivation is increased when we find out that there is a better way, and we want it for ourselves. There it is, that “want” word again! Our motivation changes when we say, “I want to” rather than “I need to,“ “I have to,” or “I should.” Changing because we are compelled to do so rarely brings lasting benefits; rather a lifetime of change comes when it is what we want for ourselves and our loved ones.

The highest motivation of the human heart is to act out of love. When we love God and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31, KJV), we find plenty of reasons. We look forward to each day with newness of life, and go forward, knowing that God will provide a way!

*Book of Mormon, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Fight Fear With Faith




What if I do not pass this test that is before me now? What if I fall short or do not make the grade somehow? What if my strength is not near enough and I fall flat on my face?  What if my mistakes are so evident that I end up a sore disgrace?

What if my voice quivers and cracks and cannot sing with a pure tone? What if my mind goes blank and I look like I am in some other zone? What if my feet trip over a crack or bump that is in my way? What if I lose my notes and just don’t know what to say?

What if I see the light but cannot open my eyes? What if someone I should have known appears in a disguise? What if the sun and moon and stars simply fall down from the sky? What if spaghetti and meatballs just happen when I am passing by?

Okay, I see the simple point. My fears are nothing more than my mind playing tricks like shifting sands upon the rocky shore. It wants a sure foundation upon which to build but because I cannot see the end, these thoughts refuse to yield.

I want safety, security, comfort and ease that do not move or rescind, but fear is funny, it changes and shifts, like the fluttering wind. I want to know before I begin that I will not lose my way. I want to know I’ll still be standing at the close of day!

My dearest child, I’m here for you, you do not walk alone. Follow me, the way is sure, the path is paved with stone. I will guide and help, comfort and bless as you travel this unknown way. I will lead you on this uncharted road, and be with you till the end of day.

You are precious to me indeed; I will not leave you to chance. Take my hand, we’ll go together, I’ll teach you how to dance. Failure is nothing more, you see, than the process of learning how. It means you have things you need to depend on me for, yes, right now.

As you humbly look to me, I’ll give you the strength you need. Together, you see, we’ll work it out, yes, with me, you will succeed!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Ten Second Rule



“Our thoughts are not our own,” the speaker said, “They come from all around us.” She went on to say that in order for them to become our own, we have to act on them. “When we have an unwelcome thought, we have ten seconds to change it. It doesn’t have to stay with us.”

Ten seconds…that is a long time. If we count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand, five-one thousand, six-one thousand, seven-one thousand, eight-one thousand, nine-one thousand, ten-one thousand at a good clip, we get an idea of how long it is.

I have always believed that we have a split-second of time once a thought enters our minds to change its outcome. I call it the “Split-Second Opportunity.” Perhaps this is the time to which the speaker was referring. It is that single moment where we see in our mind’s eye what will happen if we act on the thought that has occurred to us.

During that moment, our past meets the present. Our automatic response is in front of us and we see what will happen if we choose to accept it. These consequences are then weighed against our beliefs, hopes, and dreams, and we go forward with what we think is best.

Or is that really what happens? Do we utilize the power that exists within us? Do we understand that we have the ability to change or are we simply living on automatic pilot, hoping that we will reach our destination safely? Are we allowing our past experiences and current circumstances to dictate our every action?

If not, we have the chance of a life-time! We can change our future! In this critical moment, we have the ability to break the chains that bind us down to misery and unhappiness. We have the opportunity to accept our own ineptness and turn it into strength!

Perhaps it isn’t that simple. Life is complicated. We try every day to do our best, but things get in the way. People don’t do what we think they should. We feel frustrated and upset when problems happen and it takes more effort and time than we had planned. We get down on ourselves, stressed to the point that we cannot seem to function.

Our automatic reactions are affected by our state of mind, physical health, and use of mood-altering substances. We may have major hurdles to cross before we can get to the point that we are able to even recognize that we have the power of choice.

And yet, what if it did work? Try the ten-second rule, for your emotional health!