30 November 2012

Smile :)

About ten years ago, my dad listened to motivational talks every morning on his way to work. John Bytheway has always been a family favorite (obviously) but he was telling me about another favorite, given by Anthony (Tony) Robbins. Anthony Robbins suggested that anyone listening to the tape should try smiling, right then, right there, at that moment. He said to smile as big as you possibly could. He said to look to the car next to you, and smile to the person driving by. He said when you don't feel like it, force a smile. My dad, being my dad, I figured was just trying to get me to stop feeling sorry for myself. And me, being me, didn't really pay much attention... mostly because smiling sounded so ridiculous at that moment. But... then I thought of all the times I use to listen to Nat King Coles song, Smile. You know, the 'smile though your heart is aching' one. So, for the sake of my dad, and in respect to Nat King Cole, I have done my research. Like usual, my dad was right. Psychologically, smiling does make you happy. The theory? Facial expressions not only show emotions, but cause them.

Research began in the 70's and 80's, and a lot of psychologists were interested in the subject. There were many different studies underway, but the one that was most interesting to me, was a study conducted by Robert Zajonc. His research began in 1989. Robert Zajonc gathered a group of people, and had each of them repeat particular vowel sounds, that would produce different facial expressions. He used the long "e" sound, and the long "u" sound. A long "e" sound, resulted in the corners of the mouth stretching outward. A long "u" sound, forced somewhat of a pouty, unhappy expression. Lo and behold, the results were unanimous. After the study, the subjects who made the "e" sound, were significantly happier than those who made the "u" sound.

So, this morning, I put my pride aside, and I made myself smile. You could have seen how fake that smile was from a mile away. But, I smiled, as wide as my mouth could go. And you know that feeling, when your alarm is set for 6:00 in the morning, and it goes off, and it's that really annoying beep, beep, beep, beep, beep noise? I would have rather listened to that, for twenty five minutes, than smile, at that exact moment. My mom, walking by my room, looked at me and asked me what I was doing. I looked at her and kept smiling. She came and sat on my bed, and my face didn't budge! You know what happened? In a few minutes, after humbling myself, after feeling like a complete loser, the smile plastered on my face slowly became genuine. And then, I just felt really dumb, so I laughed. But I cannot deny it, when all was said and done, my smile became sincere. So, basically, mad props to Anthony Robbins. You have officially got a believer out of me.

19 November 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

"On that very night, the night of the greatest suffering that has ever taken place in the world or that ever will take place, the Savior said, "peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." I submit to you, that may be one of the Savior's commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lords merciful heart." 
-Elder Holland

There are two reasons why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Partly, because I have an intense liking for pumpkin pie... but mostly because we are required for 24 whole hours to count our many blessings. It's a shame Thanksgiving only comes once a year. Strangely enough, this year I feel like my blessings have been magnified times ten hundred. Blessings feel like they are just falling from every hole from the sky.

As generous as heaven has been, there is one particular blessing I seem to have become more aware of and more grateful for than ever before.

The single greatest act in the history of the world, as Elder Holland said, was the night the Lord spent in the Garden of Gethsamane. We often times correlate the Atonement with the crucifixtion on the hill of Golgotha - and although the crucifixtion was massively significant - it was the night the Lord experienced in the Garden of Gethsamane that changed the world forever. As important as it is to recognize the small tender mercies we are blessed with every day, it is essential to never forget why we are here, where we can go, and Who made it possible.

Of course, as descendents of Adam and Eve, we inherited a mortal, 'fallen' condition. Because and only because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our sins (due to the transgression of Adam and Eve), were justly paid for. The Lord knew what had to be done, and He loved us so perfectly He willingly suffered all of our mortal sins, our sorrows, and our sadness, to ensure that one day, we could live with Him and His Father again. He made everything right according to His Fathers will.

I feel so small when I look at myself and my life, and am reminded of the Lords great Atonement. How trivial my difficulties are. What the Lord experienced in Gethsamane is something our mortal minds could never comprehend. I feel a little uncomfortable even saying that, because the sacredness of the Atonement is something I truly feel so inadequate to be the beneficiary of. I don't feel that it is appropriate to think about, because that single act is so great and so perfect, that a human mind like mine shouldn't ever try to diminish its greatness by trying to understand. 

So this week, it is impossible to stay ungrateful when I remember all that I have been given. I have been blessed with the knowledge of this gospel in these latter days. I have divinity within me. I have a perfect Father in heaven and a perfect Savior. I have a constant friend and companion - the Holy Ghost. I am blessed with a loving family. Good people surround me every way I look. I have a Savior who loves me and trusts me enough to throw some unexpected curve balls along the way, because He wants me to succeed. In fact He won't let me fail. If I remain worthy, and endure righteously to the end, I can live with my Heavenly Father and Savior again. I can see my Grandpa again. I can feel the safety and security of knowing my family can do the same, and I can be sealed to them for the eternities to come. I have been blessed with every resource to learn what I need to learn, to accomplish what I need to accomplish, and to assure my place in the Lords kingdom one day. 

So, today, count your many blessings. 
And tomorrow?
Count them again. 

12 November 2012

Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations. -Elton Trueblood

Maybe we are born with it. The need to know all the answers to our questions. At the ripe old age of three we are taught to write our name. There's a right way to write it, and there's a wrong way to write it. Then we make our way from preschool to kindergarten. We learn how to spell.


Do you remember the third grade spelling bee?
My conclusion is we are just trained at a really young age to need the answers.

I like to know the answers. And if I'm wrong, I like to know why I'm wrong. And because I'm wrong, I like to know what the right answer is. And when there are questions in life I don't have the answers to, I don't know what to do with myself. When there are questions in life I will never get the answers to, I really don't know what to do with myself. Why does toast always fall buttered-side down? I don't know. When you go shopping, why does the check-out lane you choose always take longer? I don't know. Why did this person do this to me? Why is this thing happening right now? Why is it happening to me instead of someone else? I seriously just do not know. I do know that's where hope comes in. I do know that's where faith comes in. And sometimes at the end of the day, that's really all we have left. A very small flicker of hope. A very small seed of faith.  

Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? 1 Nephi 7:12

We will never know all the answers in this life, but at the end of all of it, we will look back and smile. It will all make sense. Every doubt? Forgotten. Every question? Answered. And we will thank our Heavenly Father and Savior for knowing all the answers that we just simply couldn't figure out ourselves.

At the end of the day when faith is all I have left, I know I have an eternal Father who loves me. I know I am His daughter. I know my Heavenly Father has a perfect Son. I know the Son of God is my Savior. I know my Savior loves me despite my weaknesses. I know He died for me so I can be forgiven of those weaknesses. I know my Heavenly Father and Savior have a perfect plan prepared for me. And I know I am being watched over. 

Sometimes I have to catch my breath when I think of the goodness of our Heavenly Father and Savior. There is hope because of this gospel. There is faith because of this gospel. There is happiness and joy to be had because of this gospel. I won't ever have all the answers. But I do have the answers to the most important questions. And those answers? Well they make all the other answers don't really matter all that much anyway.

07 November 2012

Chapter Two

The other night I was talking to a friend, and we had a long conversation about being human and trying to embrace it.

You can take that in a million different ways, but here is what we concluded. Societies standards are way too freaking high. Why are the very people we are always hardest on is ourselves? Why do we feel less significant when someone's life looks better or easier? When people ask how we are, why do we always feel an obligation to tell them we're doing well? Because our life looks better to them that way. Suffice it to say, some people have a seriously positive perception of life and of themselves - and more power to them. I am not condoning pessimism, but there are times when you just need to hear that it's okay to cry, and yes life does suck sometimes, and no we don't always have to be happy about it. Sometimes we need to put our big girl panties on and deal with it, but always remember that hurting doesn't make you weak, sadness doesn't mean you're failing, and my heavens if we don't always deal with things the right way it doesn't make us more deficient or inadequate. I think a lot of us don't give ourselves half the credit we deserve. 

Nick Vujuicic is an australian native who was born with a rare condition that left him limbless. He graduated from college at 21 with a double major, travels as a motivational speaker, surfs and swims, and plays soccer and golf. Ben Underwood, who died at the age of sixteen due to retinal cancer. His eyes were removed at the age of two, but decided he would learn to do what the dolphins do! Echolocation. He learned to see things by listening to noise. Liz Murray, who became homeless at fifteen after both of her parents died from AIDS, graduated from Harvard, has become a professional speaker, and her life was made into a movie. 

There are amazing people with amazing stories everywhere we look. What we don't always hear (or at least focus on) is the strength that came from their struggle. Maybe some didn't have a hard time, which makes them even cooler. But I'm sure there were days that really sucked. I'm sure there were moments when they thought why on earth is this happening. I would think there would have been some feelings of sadness at one point or another. 

In a previous post I talked about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and seriously she's way cool. In her ever so famous book she says, "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

My point is I guess, Buddha was right. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. Don't let your circumstances make you feel any less than who you really are. Don't let other people's circumstances let you feel any less than who you are. Keep your head up. Be patient with yourself. There will always be someone better than you, or prettier, or stronger. That doesn't make us less special than them. We are children of God, and that in and of itself makes us of immense worth. It's okay to not always be okay. We are human. We make mistakes. We struggle. We are faced with difficulties. Embrace it.

"As a child of God, I am greater than anything that can happen to me." -Abdul Kalam

05 November 2012

Good Reads

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. 
At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. 
He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: 
you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. 
But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably 
and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? 
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house 
from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, 
putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. 
You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: 
but He is building a palace."
-C.S. Lewis

In the past four months, I have read book after book after book after book. We are so seriously blessed as Latter Day Saints to have a million and one resources to turn to when we're going through challenging times. The following are the books I have read the past few months, and they are so beautiful and well written. I have picked out my next 6 books, and I'm sure they will be equally as amazing. Going through difficult times or not, these books are so worth reading.

A couple months ago I put together a little video, and it has brought me a lot of comfort since. It isn't half as good as these books, and it's not great quality, but it is meant to be encouraging!

So basically, the church is so true.
I would be nowhere without my Heavenly Father and Savior.
On another note, I'm not meant to be a cottage.
I'm clearly meant to be a palace.