Monday, March 31, 2014

How to Rise Above Discouragement

In the middle of the night, I awoke feeling overwhelmed with discouragement. In the dark, it is easy to feel hopeless. The sunshine does offer the symbolic light and without it, it can feel so depressing.

It is sometimes easy; okay, it is just downright easy and natural to want to blame other people for that discouragement.  The only power I have to overcome those dark feelings is to quit blaming other people and take the necessary accountability to put the responsibility in my court. I start to feel renewed possibilities and hope as I see what I can change and what I can do to make my life better.

I have said this over and over again. When I focus on and blame other people or circumstances for my unhappiness, I give away my power. I can't repent for someone's sins but I can proactively deal with my own. And if the truth be known, sometimes they aren't really sins, just mistakes that provide the learning experiences that I need to grow.  It is only then that the light starts to shine again and I feel renewed hope.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Power of Music

I felt something incredibly powerful and inspiring as I watched in a conference a group of 8-12 girls start to sing a song after hearing someone hum just a few notes of the song.

Some people say that churches brainwash their members. But I say, there is enough ugliness that gets in our head and thoughts that a good brain washing is helpful. I am grateful for songs taught at church at such a young age that can be inside a child's brain in order to guide and give purpose. I say, SING BABY SING.

If the words are spoken enough and especially put to music then more people will be influenced and will be walking in the light of His love and would be living the second line of that song, which is "teach me to pray to my Father above." Wouldn't that be a wonderful world to live in?

Where Does Your Motivation Come From?

If you struggle with worrying about what other people think of you, consider this. Most of our upbringing was based on pleasing other people. We were often told, "What would other people think?" In school, our performance was based on the assessment of others. We were somewhat manipulated by punishment and rewards, which caused us to be dependent on the evaluation of  and competition with others.

If punishment was our form of motivation, then we learned to be prompted by fear. If there was some sort of reward attached, we disconnected with the present moment and our own feelings and learned to focus on the expected benefit in the future. And especially if we were always anticipating someone's approval, then we frantically looked outside ourselves and were always at someone's mercy.

In this way we gave away our power to feel and enjoy the moment to a trophy, a grade, or someone's control. I say, take back your own power. Learn to be your own best authority on what makes you feel connected to your true self and what God created you to be and to what brings you joy and peace.  Look within because God is within you and you can know what you are right with Him and thus right with yourself. Notice what you feel. Feelings of peace and joy let us know we are in the right place. Feelings of elevated stress or anxiety signify we are off course. We can always look to others to be inspired and somewhat directed, but the ultimate goal is to be motivated from within and directed by healthy emotions.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Organize to find Peace

I woke up this morning to a disorganized office. Peace is not found in chaos. I know that establishing order is the first step in peace and creativity. That is why the first day in  the creation of the world was to organize. Organizing isn't the end all. It is just the means to a greater, more purposeful end. Begin with the end in mind but begin by organizing and then in that organized state, there is more peace and in that state of peace, there is more creativity.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life is Good

Life is what I make it. When I focus on what is wonderful; more wonder shows up. When I focus on what I am grateful for; more to be grateful shows up. When I focus on what I love, more to love shows up. When I focus on my opportunities; more that is possible shows up.

Everyday the opportunity to choose is placed before me. The opportunity to choose between the bitter or the sweet. The opportunity to choose between the ugly or the beautiful. The opportunity to choose between love or hate. Everything is a mindset. Even the bitter contains sweetness, even what is ugly can be seen as beautiful, and even what we think we hate, we can find something to love about it.

When I declare Life is Good, it becomes such because I have new eyes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Faith or Works?

"The most significant discovery of the human potential movement is that you can change your beliefs through your actions as readily as you can change you actions through your beliefs." I actually don't know who to give credit for this quote but it helped me realize why our works are so important. No, our works cannot save us; only Christ's grace through His atonement can. But our works help increase our belief and ultimate our faith in Him, and then our increased faith can motivate our good works even further thus drawing us closer to Him. It is a beautiful cycle.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Painful Lessons--Take Good Notes

I have learned that life is a great teacher and the painful things will capture our greatest attention and teach us the most. I say; take good notes.

Once when I felt abandoned and rejected, I decided to start a small journal and record the  positive thoughts and insights I was having at that very moment. I decided to ignore anything anyone else was doing or especially not doing for me, and instead I looked deep within and prayed that I would be taught what I needed to learn and do. It was one of the most valuable experiences of my life, and I discovered the way to feel joy and peace; especially when life is difficult.

I learned that my Heavenly Father is mindful of me and loves me enough to teach me.
I learned that there is so much to learn.
I learned to focus on positive change.
I learned that there is reason to have hope and be optimistic.
I learned that I have tendencies and sins that I needed to repent of.
I learned that the painful admission of sin was incredibly freeing.
I learned more gratitude for the gift of repentance through the Atonement.
I learned that my thoughts and focus can change the course of my live.
I learned to keep my focus on the only person I can control--me.

So again, I say take good notes. God is continually speaking to us. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Do You Feel About Commandments?

I was preparing for a lesson on the importance of attending sacrament meeting in order to partake of the sacrament which is a remembrance of the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. As I read the words that it is actually a COMMANDMENT to do so, it came to me that the word commandment evokes different feelings for different people.

I have come to know that everyone isn't wired quite like I am. I am by nature an obedient personality. I was simply born that way. Put up a "Do Not Park Here" sign and I won't even consider it. I have, however, come to know that other people that would see that sign and think,"They must want me to park here or they wouldn't have suggested that I shouldn't."  I have been in the car with those people and all the while I am suffering from a nervous, uncontrollable twitch.

So I concluded that for some the word commandment is seen as restriction and control and would especially bristle at the suggestion that they would be punished for not keeping the commandment as more of the same attempt to control.

Those who are more submissive like myself, however, could actually be more easily persuaded by evil commandments, such as those given by Hitler so I can't get too prideful of my innate nature. Also we could only actually just fear the punishment for disobedience to the righteous commandments. And let's face; that wouldn't be a good enough reason for compliance.

I have come to see the healthy and beneficial attitude is to see commandments for what they really are. They are from a loving Father in Heaven who wants the very best for us and wants to lead us to health and happiness. Instead of a restriction, they are an opportunity. Instead of control, they are a protection. Instead of a roadblock, they are a direction. And instead of focusing on punishment for breaking them, they can be a blessing for keeping them. They are something I want to do, not feel like I have to do.

So I ask again, how do you feel about keeping the COMMANDMENTS?

Restriction or Opportunity?
Control or Protection?
Roadblock or Direction?
To Punish or To Bless?

How we see a commandment will make all the difference, especially the commandment to go and honor and celebrate the atoning gift of our Savior, because either we will run from or embrace. And in the end we might run from or embrace joy and peace.

Friday, March 7, 2014

More on Depression

This talk by Jeffry R. Holland is wonderful.

He asks a significant question, "So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love?" His answer is profound. "Never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend." Quoting President Monson, he adds, "That love never changes...It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God's love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there."

Some of the best advice I received many years ago by a wise counselor was for all of us to be a positive representative of God's love.  Especially to someone who hadn't felt loved and cared for by their parents or other significant people resulting in an inability to feel God's love. Human Development research has found a link between the kind of love a parent demonstrates and how a person will feel about God. If the parent is punitive, detached, etc. then the child will come to see God in the same way. If a parent is loving, emotionally attached, etc. then it is easier for a child to grow close to and trust God as well. The same kind of healthy or unhealthy attachments with other people can also have the same affect.

Going back to the quote by President Monson. If any of us are to be that rock of hope and love for those struggling with depression, then it is important that let God's love shine through us. It is a tall order and one that I know I can't accomplish on my own. It is something I need to pray for every single day and sometimes several times a day. What just popped in my mind is, "May the force be with you." (I just went to Disneyland and rode the Star Wars ride several times. Just be glad the Small World ride wasn't in operation) God's love is that force. It is what we all need to feel regardless if we or others feel like it is deserved.

Serve and Uplift

Each morning when I sit down to read scriptures or other meaningful words of wisdom, I like to drink my Yogi herbal tea. On the end of the tea bag are more words of wisdom. Here is today's thought. Profound. I know that my best days include a day of love, service, and trying to uplift someone.

Awhile ago I posted some words about being an accomplishment addict. Inherent in that pursuit is a need to prove ourselves and our worth. The antithesis of that is to already know our worth but then use that understanding in loving, serving, and uplifting others. Our life is not going to be measured by what we accomplish but how we use our gifts and talents to make this world a better place.

Discovering and developing my talents and then ways to share those gifts is my quest. I am gifted at eating out. I guess I need to become a restaurant critic.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Depression and Pain-Healing Broken Bones, Hearts, and Minds

I have lived up close and personal with depression. Not mine, but other people I love and care about. I have also been living with someone who has suffered from broken bones. I have come to realize that the lesson learned from dealing with broken bones can be applied to dealing with broken hearts and minds. Here are some of the lessons I've learned.

Don't take anything personal. When people are in pain, they are not always their best self. They don't mean to be rude and it doesn't mean they hate you. They hate the pain and will sometimes take it out on the ones closest to them. That applies to physical and emotional pain.

People often do stupid things when they are in the depths of depression. Forgiveness is healing--for everyone involved. Again, don't take things personally. Resist the naturally tendency to want to punish. Remember the pain of their circumstance is punishment enough. Natural consequences punish, people shouldn't and don't need to. It is simply not our job to punish but to try to understand the pain, love, and forgive and be the loving support that can lead to healing practices that help.

When people are in pain, whether physical or mental, they need someone to be close to them. Touch is extremely healing. The last thing someone needs is to be punished or rejected. Punishment and rejection doesn't heal. Only love and tenderness does. Touch releases the same kind of feel-good chemicals that opium artificially delivers to the brain. With lots of love and tenderness, we can displace the desperate need for illegal drugs or any other artificial and harmful means for comfort or pleasure. It was interesting to discover that the person suffering from a broken bone didn't need as much pain medication when they had someone close to them holding their hand. The pain became greater when left alone. Unfortunately, it is a natural tendency for those that are depressed to pull away from people, and us from them. Don't do it.

Don't be a doormat. Set your expectations and boundaries in love, making sure that they understand that it is to benefit you both. I love the admonition that sometimes it is necessary to "reprove betimes with sharpness," but making sure we understand the meaning of each word. Reprove means to correct, betimes means early, and sharpness means with clarity. Snide remarks, bitter comments, and the silent treatment only increase the pain, but correcting early with clarity, especially when "moved upon by the Spirit," can help give direction and purpose that is based in love and genuine care. Tell the truth with love.

It is always important to do a self assessment. Ask yourself and ultimately ask God, what am I doing that might be making it more difficult for the person who is struggling? What can I do to make it better for the other person? What am I to learn from this? Pray for God-like understanding and compassion. Always remember that if you are the healthier person, that it is always easier for you to make better choices for both of you. You can have the most power. Don't give that power away by trying to control, blaming, scolding, getting even, etc. 

Healing takes time and a lot of patience. Broken bones and broken hearts and minds do not heal overnight. Depression isn't something that can always be cured but must be maintained and delicately handled--just like diabetes. Depression can benefit from wise medical help, good counseling, and healthy exercise and eating habits, in addition to the loving support of family and friends. 

I have often felt like the greatest test isn't necessarily for those that suffer from depression or any other genetic tendency that is difficult. I feel like the greatest test is for those who love someone with a difficult challenge. It is our test to see how we handle it. It is our opportunity to develop the capacity to be understanding and to have a greater dose of Christ-like love. Patience and long suffering is sometimes the only road to greater understanding of what our Savior did for all of us. This journey isn't for the faint of heart but it has great rewards.