You Can Do More Than You Think

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do Henry Ford

“If you’re going to doubt something, doubt your own limits.” -Don Ward

There’s a Saturday Night Live sketch that features Kenan Thompson as a middle school student with a broken knee. Scarlett Johansson and his other classmates repeatedly convince him to attempt walking, quoting a teacher who frequently lectures on the power of positive thinking. Despite their promises that anything is possible, he repeatedly falls flat on his face.

I loved this sketch, not because of some schadenfreude-induced need to see children crying. I love it because it reminds me of the many times I’ve seen comments on blog posts about possibilities, where people cite things that are obviously not possible.

While we can do a lot in life, running on a leg that you just broke is not (currently) medically possible. Flapping your arms and flying like a bird is just not possible. Turning your horse into a unicorn is just not possible. And switching bodies with your best friend, though commonly seen in movies, is just not possible.

Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on the many difficult things that are, in fact, possible, despite what people once thought.

It is possible to run a 4-minute mile. It is possible to fly a heavier-than-air plane. It is possible for a person to walk on the moon. It is possible to perform a full-face transplant. It is possible for an African American man to become the President of the United States.

People do “impossible” things every day. If we believe in ourselves and take smart risks, we can, too.

You might not be able to leave your job tomorrow, but you can discover your passion and start a business. You may not be able to win a Webby Award tomorrow, but you can create a site that makes a difference in the world. You might not be able to change that you have a physical limitation, but you can find a way to empower yourself because of it, not in spite of it.

Today if you find yourself dwelling on what’s possible, remind yourself: You can do more than you think if you’re willing to stop making excuses and start testing your limits.

Today’s article was written by Lori Deschene. Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Today’s article was shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/quotes/tiny-wisdom-you-can-do-more-than-you-think/

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The Power of Personal Responsibility

The secret ingredient to true happiness? Decisive optimism and personal responsibility. Amy Leigh MercreeLife blooms when we take responsibility for our full human experience. To be personally responsible and self-reliant means we have to get our sh*t together and decide to have command over these five areas:

1. Our Aim. What is our goal, our direction, our purpose? What is it that we are moving toward and organizing our lives to achieve and contribute? These are questions of the motivated and purposeful human.

2. Our Attention. Are the things we continually focus on bringing us joy, success, connection, growth? Or are we being distracted by a bunch of  garbage and gossip in life?

3. Our Attitude. The power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates energy. Similarly, we don’t have an attitude, we generate one. When we choose to generate a negative energy and attitude, life is horrible. But when we choose to generate and broadcast a joyous, loving, and positive energy, life opens up to us, people feel something new from us, and our entire life blooms and grows.

4. Our Affections. Are we connecting with those we love and sensing the beauty of this life? The emotional quality and connections we feel in life are also a choice, and we should choose to feel again, to love again, to become passionate and emotionally open, giving, strong and vibrant.

5. Our Actions. Our destiny is dictated by our disciplined actions – what we do each day, the habits we develop, our purposeful efforts. Take no action, have no life, no adventure, no progress. But overcome apathy and fear and get going and soon there is magic and momentum and what we love to call, the charged life.

Transcript

Let’s talk about personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Have you ever met somebody who just drives you nuts, because you’re like, “Why are they not more responsible?”

It drives you insane or you know somebody who just, I mean, they just, for whatever reason cannot stand on their own in life.

You’re like, “Could you please make a decision!” You know, you go to dinner with somebody and be like, “I don’t know honey can you tell me what to order,” and you’re like AHH!

Now, we all know someone like that and some of us have been guilty at some parts of our lives and being that type of person, so let’s dial this in.

What does personal responsibility really mean? What happens in our lives when we have it?

I personally feel that when we are more personally responsible for our own lives, life blooms. A magic enters our life, not just the magic of confidence and certainty in who we are, but a sense of total truth with what life is supposed to be for ourselves.

We are not meant to be victims or apathetic people laying around, hoping something comes along and changes our lives because only two things change our lives.

1. Either, something new does come into our life and it changes our direction, changes our insight, changes who we are. Maybe we win the lottery or the lucky white knight comes in and saves your life. Or…

2. Or, something new comes from within you.

I think what that thing is that comes from within us that’s so powerful that retakes our life, what is that magic? It’s personal responsibility.

I know that’s so simple, it’s almost like (boring sound). It doesn’t sound sexy to say be responsible for your life, but I think we have five main responsibilities in our lives and if we take control of each of these areas of our lives, like a new power comes into our life, a new joy and zest.

I would argue more over time, success, connection, joy, love, and abundance … come along with it.

OUR AIM

And that first thing that we are personally responsible for is our aim, our ambition, our desire, our goal, our dream.

Successful people look out there and say, “What is it that I desire of my life?” They go for it. They’ve set an intention. They’ve set a direction for who they are and where they’re going and what is meaningful to them, who they want to have along with them. Their aim is extraordinarily tight. They really do see where they’re going and what they want. They don’t always know the full picture, they just know, I want to be like this… I want to do things like this. They start along that path.

Because they’re following their own path, even if they don’t know where exactly it goes, they’re living the adventurous life. They’re entering a new phase of their life where they truly feel that this journey is their own versus just being carried along by their parents, their professors or their peers or their co-workers. It’s their own – they have their own aim in life.

I think we have to take control of that. I think tonight would be a good time for you to sit down and say,

“Okay, what is it I want in the major areas of my life? What is it I truly have aim and ambition for in my work life, in my relationships, in my sense of spiritual and emotional self? In my physical health and vitality? In my overall direction in life?”

What do you want next week to be about? If you don’t know then you are “aimless”, and when you’re aimless it’s pretty easy to feel pretty lost. It’s like you kind of wander around in the world, that’s a big full wilderness. That’s why in Montana we always say, “The time to have the map is before you enter the woods.”

The world is a big thicket of crazy throngs of people who have all their wants and wills, and if you don’t have your own direction, if you have not set your own life agenda, they will set one for you. So you have to direct your own aim.

OUR ATTENTION

The second thing you have to direct is your attention.

Where is your attention going each moment of the day?

The ability to be fully present is really just guiding one’s attention to this moment, giving ourselves an alertness, an intention and awareness to the very Now that we are experiencing. That’s power.

When you are more attentive to your life, to the moments that you experience, it’s amazing.

But attention also applies to, what are we paying attention to overall in our life?

Most of us are being guided again, by the aims of others so we are taken from our own attention of what we should be focusing on and stripped away into the distractions of the world.

Most people’s attentions are not… they’re not paying attention to what they should be paying attention to based on their goals, their desires, their dreams or demands and responsibilities of life; they’re paying attention to the distraction that showed up. “Oh look, a new Michael Jackson song!” (That happened right before this video!).

I’m just saying… if we’re going to accomplish a lot and go where we want to in our lives and really sense the fullness of this moment, we have to guard our attention from all the garbage that can come in and sweep it away.

OUR ATTITUDE

I think the third thing that we are absolutely responsible for in our lives and when we take responsibility of this thing, life absolutely explodes in joy, and that’s our attitude.

How are you meeting life? Are you meeting life energized and alive and buoyant, and excited, and enthusiastic and positive; you can’t wait for the next moment to unfold?

Or, are you like, “Well, here we go again?”

You know these people, have you seen them? I see them. Watch people when they walk down the street, they’re grumbling, it’s like their attitude stinks so bad that I can’t stand to be around them. It’s like they’re just emanating nasty, dark, bad energy in the world, and why? Because they chose to.

Some people say, “No, Brendon, no one would choose that.” Yeah. They did. They chose to have a bad attitude just enough over a period of time that it became part of their personality. That their attitude now is just fixed. It is closed. It is angry, upset, or bordering on the negative emotional qualities of life, rather than realizing the incredible magic and experience that we all have available to us, each and every single moment of the day.

There is a lot of magic around here. When your attitude is open you’re allowing yourself to learn. When your attitude is open you’re allowing yourself to connect to other people. When your attitude is open finding happiness isn’t something you do you create it. You choose the attitude of happiness. You don’t have to have happiness, you generate it. You don’t have to have good energy today, you generate it.

I always say the power plant doesn’t have energy it generates energy. You yourself are generating an attitude. It was not fixed on you.

Everything we’ve learned in psychology over the years is that you can literally change your attitude, just by controlling your thoughts and directing them in a new, positive, healthy, social way.

Why not do that?

You all deserve to have a good attitude. It’s a choice, just like happiness is a choice. It’s a choice. Choose to have a good attitude.

OUR AFFECTIONS

I think the fourth thing, if we’re talking about directing your aim, we’re talking about making sure that your attention is focused on the things it should be, and that you’re directing your attitude… the fourth thing we get to direct is our affections.

Our affections in terms of, our emotional quality in life, but also those that we care for. We should take responsibility for the amount of love we’re giving our loved ones.

We should control the amount of emotion that we have throughout the day, not to control it and stifle it, but to allow the beauty of it to come up. To allow ourselves to feel affectionate towards other human beings. To allow ourselves to feel affectionate for causes. To allow ourselves to feel affectionate for Mother Nature and our planet, and our God. To allow that emotional connection, that affection that happens when we care deeply about something again.

A lot of people, they got hurt a couple of times in their life so they shut off. They closed down, they’re like, “I’m out,” and they stopped allowing that beautiful part of their lives.

It takes a lot of responsibility to allow ourselves to love because it’s so much easier to shut down and take no responsibility whatsoever, become a victim, become very upset, because you know what, when we’re a victim we don’t have to be responsible. It’s somebody else’s deal. They have the power. They took the power over us, whisked away all our goodness and now we can just be upset and angry. That’s such an easy route for people to take.

Demanding that we take control of our emotional reality and the affections we have for others and other things, that brings about risk. If you heighten the affection you give to somebody; they might hurt you. So? Love is never hurt, ever. Maybe your ego gets trounced a little bit.

Maybe you feel sad for a couple moments, but at the end of the day what’s life? Is it supposed to be a bland, colorless universe where we don’t get to experience the heights and the joys and the rainbows and the gifts of love?

I don’t think so.

I think affection is something that we an all choose to have, and feel and cultivate in our lives.

If we are not overcome with emotion once in a while for somebody, then we aren’t thinking about the beauty in other people.

If we aren’t overcome with emotion and connection and we don’t just want to grab someone and kiss them all over the face then we aren’t paying attention to people anymore.

We have become too trapped in our own thing.

Other people should fascinate us. We should be excited to meet them. We should look out into the world and say, “Wow, you know what, there are so many people. They’re all so different. What an incredible zest that we get.”

Our brain is hardwired to love novelty. Guess what? We have seven billion people who can give us that dopamine drip, just by talking to them and connecting real emotion with them again. Let’s do that.

OUR ACTIONS

The fifth thing that people need to be personally responsible for in our lives is action, our behaviors.

What is it that we’re doing each and every single day?

Taking responsibility for our actions because they are adding to our character and our destiny.

Who we become is a result of our disciplined actions, not our random initiatives that we do once in a while that respond to something, but, “What do I want to be about,” and being disciplined about being that.

What do I want to achieve being disciplined about achieving that?

What do I want to give or serve and being disciplined about giving and serving in those ways when we do that?

Something completely changes. We get a remarkable amount of momentum and progress in our lives.

Our personal responsibility in being able to control our actions and guide them towards healthy and positive outcomes for ourselves, that gives us extraordinary confidence, an extraordinary sense of progress in life. When we’re confident in who we are and we’re confident in our progress towards where we are moving, then it’s easier to sense that magical element called happiness.

It all comes from being responsible for those five things. Aim. Attitude. Attentions. Affections. Actions we take each day.

Look at the opposite. Look at those who have no aim in life.

Look at those who have not controlled their attitude so they’re just taking on and imbued the negative emotional attitude of those around them.

Look at those who cannot control their attention during the day, how much they accomplish. Look at those people who have no affection for other people and they do not control their emotions at all in positive ways.

Look at those who are not directing their actions intentionally.

What happens? They always end up derailing their life. They end up lost somewhere. They end up frustrated and irresponsible, not only for their own lives but often for the lives of those who they are entrusted to care for.

So personal responsibility is a big thing. But now you master those five elements of your life, bring intentionality to those five elements of your life, and as I said in the beginning, “Life blooms.” An extraordinary new quality of experience comes into our lives, we feel an incredible spark and zest about it each day. We feel what we call the charged life.

Today’s article was written by Brendon Burchard and is shared from the following website: https://brendon.com/blog/the-power-of-personal-responsibility/

 

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Building Character

The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. Anne Frank

The dirty chores at home on the farm were always “character-building.” My dad always used to say that shoveling out the hog barn “builds character.” What I knew at the time is that the only thing it built was a healthy smell that lingered way too long.

No different than you, just different activities at different times. Those words of “it builds character” echo through our lives. When we get dumped or ignored by someone we think we love, we hear the whisper of “it builds character.” When we are way behind on writing a term paper or preparing for a test, we hear the chant of “it builds character.” When we have the horrible boss experience again, we cling to the words of “it builds character.”

It builds character.

“It” is really just a fill-in-the-blank space to add in:

  • Conflict
  • Hard workbuilds character
  • Civil debate
  • Solving problems
  • Parenting
  • Managing
  • Leading

Each builds character. Just plug it in.

What Is Character?

Character. We know it when we see it. Maybe more importantly, we know it when it is missing.

Headlines fill us in with the individuals lacking character. The headlines feature more than the common criminals. Politicians and business leaders make the front page with many counts of bad character. Bad character knows no boundaries.

The good news is good character knows no boundaries, too. Good character is exemplified every day and too often goes unnoticed. Media attention gets attracted to the obvious places too often.

But character is more than visual. Character is engraved within us. The engraving isn’t always planned and clean. The word “character” comes from the Greek kharakter that means “engraved mark.” The character trace goes back to another definition of “to scrape or scratch.” For me, the combination of engrave, scrape, and scratch fit well with what character really means. Here are my thoughts on why:

  • Engrave – An active art of determining what builds our character – honesty, courage, and the like.
  • Scrape – Learning from the challenges that come our way (or those we create) and then proving what we learned by doing much better than before.
  • Scratch – The act of working our way back when we fall down and gaining strength of integrity from what we experience.

Character is all the good traits we think it is. However, character is much more. Character is a verb, demonstrated in what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Character is also how we recover.

Character Over Time

Character builds over time. Character is additive. We cannot waste our youth pursuing things that neuter or subtract from our character. Equally true, we cannot spend our older years tearing down the character we built. In both cases, we are wasting time and, most importantly, damaging relationships. Legacy and trust carry a high lifetime value.

Each choice and action we take adds or detracts from our character. Any given day, we should have more positive character choices and actions than negative ones. Getting character right is not a balance exercise. Not even close. We should build character through our good choices and actions as often as we can. We are imperfect. How we respond in our imperfect choices and actions can add to or subtract from our character. This is the choice of our character.

No matter our age, we should never dig a big hole in our character in which we spend a lifetime trying to recover. The younger we are, the longer the lifetime of recovering. And this is why trying to make the best choices possible and take the most appropriate actions as often as possible early in our lives can make a very big difference in the quality of our overall life.

Time-Tested Character

Time matters. Time tests. Character erodes or grows.

Our character is developed through time. More accurately, our character is developed through our experiences and what we choose to learn and do from them. Trials and tribulations are tough. We all have them in some way. We can mask them, pretending they are not really there. We can tackle them, risking relationships and results. What I know is we cannot ignore them, and we must face them.

Character in many ways is a combination of our mind, soul, and backbone.

Character in many ways is a combination of our mind, soul, and backbone. We need to work through our thoughts and pick the ones that matter. We need to understand how the trials are impacting our soul and take the necessary steps to protect and grow. We need to know when to stand up, move on, or protect. Character is tested. How we respond and learn will determine the legacy of our character.

In times of success and prosperity, our character is at risk as well. Just because everything seems to be going very well and we are rich in what we have in our abilities and worth, too often character falters in these good times. Laziness creeps in. Thinking we are above what is normal and right invades our actions. Character loses our attention because we think we have it all.

The only time we have it all is when our character remains intact and grows in strength.

In good times, we need to continue to add to our character by what we say and do. We need to pass on our lessons learned and share our wealth of experience along with whatever else we give. People will remember your stories of character, and these stories deliver much more meaning than a name on a building. Legacy of character carries forward like folklore.

What Builds Character?

Each year, we begin with a ritual with little lasting impact: Resolution-making. Instead of making resolutions, maybe we should do things to build our character every day. Imagine what a year’s worth of character-building could produce.

We should never ignore our habits, though. Habits effect character. Eating right. Exercising frequently. Reading often. All these elements provide the nutrients for a clear mind, activating spirit, and strong backbone. Good habits feed our inner goodness.

With this disclaimer now complete, we return to what can build character every day. I have thought about my own life work experiences, and these seven character activities came to mind:

1 – Work hard to build, create, survive, and excel (in purpose).

Laziness achieves nothing. Work for work’s sake creates little. Whatever our responsibilities, we need to do the work. Whatever our purpose, we need to do our important work. Getting our tempo right will take time. Through doing the work, our time will rise up, and our character will show its strength in purpose. Keep focused on your purpose horizon and do the work.

2 – Engage in tough conversations with empathy and action (don’t put them off).

The easy thing is to sidestep the tough conversations. We need to take deep breaths and determine how to engage in meaningful conversations that make a difference in what we say and what happens next. We cannot control what may happen next, but our character will be stronger if we interact with empathy.

3 – Nurture relationships that matter through good and challenging times (staying power, the power of love).

Too often, the first thing to go when times get challenging are our relationships. They have become almost disposable. Relationships that are damaging physically or psychologically are different. In those, safely leaving is the first step, and these times take strong character as well. Absent the damaging relationships, we need to try hard to make them work, no matter the place. Whether in our homes, neighborhoods, or workplaces, we need to nurture our relationships and find better paths forward.

4 – Exhibit humility in achievement and success (giving credit, giving back).

Be humble in all you do and say. Humility is not permission to be run over. Quite the opposite. See number 2. Humility is knowing we are stronger together than apart. Humility is giving all we have and doing it again.

5 – Be nice when everything tempts you not to be nice.

Being nice is not permission to be run over either. A quiet strength of character exists in being humble and nice. Build this character strength. One of the best professors I had was one of the nicest, kindest guys, but you did not want to skip the work. Being nice doesn’t mean low expectations. Too often, we want to play to the crowd and say outrageous things to incite or fit into one. Instead, we need to stand out by saying and doing things that are helpful.

6 – Always get up, no matter what, to create something better than the day before.

We will get knocked down and stepped on. Two things to remember. First, there is an old political adage that says “what goes around, comes around.” If someone is stepping on us, holding us back, or ignoring us, nature has a way of dealing with this, so focus on what you can do and do so with a strong sense of character. Second, keep getting up and creating what you are meant to do. After all, this is the only way your purpose will take root and begin to bloom.

7 – No task is too small and no person is too ordinary or extraordinary to extend a hand and help.

Never think or do things that make others feel small. Always pitch in no matter the task. Our hands are meant to be extended in a helpful way; it is why we have arms and elbows! We are designed to do the work, hug each other, and extend a helpful hand.

These are the things I know will build character. Each come from my experiences on the farm, school, college, work in politics and business, and family. How you build character may differ, which is okay. The point is to understand what builds your character and go do those things as often as you can.

David Brooks wrote an important book, The Road to Character, and I recommend it highly. I like this telling statistic and point he made in this NPR interview:

“My favorite statistic about this is that in 1950 the Gallup organization asked high school seniors: Are you a very important person? And in 1950, 12 percent said yes. They asked again in 2005 and it was 80 percent who said they were a very important person. So we live in a culture that encourages us to be big about ourselves, and I think the starting point of trying to build inner goodness is to be a little bit smaller about yourself.”

We need to remember to be big in our character and reduce the size of our personality. Personal brand chatter focuses too much on superficial things and too much on self-importance. If you want to build a sustainable personal brand, focus on your personal character early and often. Determine what will stand.

Today’s article was written by Jon Mertz and has been shared from the following website: https://www.thindifference.com/2016/01/what-builds-character/

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The Blessings of Choice

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count. Neal A. Maxwell

We are and will be faced with all types of choices throughout our lives. Each choice we make or action we take carries some type of consequence. The consequence can be positive or negative. A consequence does not always have to be negative; I think we are conditioned to think of consequences as negative. Sometimes consequences appear to be both negative and positive, depending on your point of view.

Sometimes we make choices thinking we are doing good, only to have our good intentions and deeds backfire and make a bad situation worse. Sometimes we immediately regret a decision or choice. Sometimes regret comes later and with someone saying to us, “I told you so.” Other times we may say or do something that we later find out actually inspired or uplifted someone. Sometimes we choose not to make a choice and instead let nature or circumstances unfold as they will. This reminds me of several lines from one of my favorite songs by Rush called “Freewill”:

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill.
I will choose a path that’s clear;
I will choose freewill.

CHOOSING YOUR PATH

One of the great blessings we enjoy in this life is the blessing of choice—choosing the path our life will take and, maybe more important, the type of person we want to become.

We have a huge number of directions we can steer our lives in. You can allow others to steer for you and guide you on the path. There are plenty of people who will be more than happy to tell you what you should and should not do. They may even let you pay them for their advice. You can also decide to do whatever you fancy—it is your life, after all, and God has blessed you with agency. Or you can let life happen and just roll with the changes. Or maybe, best yet, you can be proactive and make the choices that best suit you and the direction you want your life to take.

Let me caution you that simply making certain decisions does not guarantee that you will end up exactly where you expect to be. The choice I am talking about is the type of person you want to be, regardless of where your life and vocation take you.

When I was in junior high and high school I was interested in several careers. The first and foremost was to play professional football. The second was to coach football and be a PE teacher. The third and most fleeting was to be a lead singer for an epic hard rock band.

The lead singer career was the first to fade as I realized three facts about myself: (1) I am not a good singer or screamer, (2) I really don’t enjoy being on stage in front of people, and (3) I wasn’t really ready for the superstar lifestyle and all that comes with it.

My poor singing ability was reconfirmed to me some years ago when my ward choir pleaded for male voices. They said any male voice was welcome. I decided to test how serious they were by sitting right behind the ward choir director during sacrament meeting and singing loud enough for her to hear me. This was my way of trying out for the choir. I did this for three straight weeks. The only response I got was a pained smile as the choir director turned to look and see who was making the strange sounds behind her. I received no personal invitation to join the choir.

I haven’t given up singing. I just limit the venues I perform in. My current singing venue is in my old Chevy pickup truck when I crank up the stereo, roll the windows down, and sing along with one of my favorite bands on what you would call the classic rock station.

What happened to my pro football dream? Well, I will be honest: I wasn’t really willing to put in the work and make the necessary sacrifices—plus, in reality, I probably wasn’t ever as good as I thought I was. I did try coaching and teaching PE, and I enjoyed it, but that wasn’t how I would make my living.

All of my vocational dreams fell apart before I left on my mission or soon after I returned from my mission. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my life was destined to lead me through several twists and turns before I found a vocation and a career that suited me.

I struggled to find a major that suited me and later a career that would allow me to be the person I wanted to be and still provide for my family. I am very aware of what it feels like to be unemployed, wondering why no one wants to hire you. I am also aware of how it feels to be underemployed, wondering, “Why is this the only place that wants me?” Was I afraid my life would never get any better than it was? Sure, at times I was.

I want to share with you some of what I believe blessed my life and helped me find my way in this world and continues to help me find my way. At the ripe old age of fifty-one I am still finding my way—mostly because I have not achieved perfection yet and don’t expect to anytime soon. I am just happy to know I am headed in the right direction.

THOSE WHO HAVE ENRICHED AND BLESSED MY LIFE

First, I must acknowledge my parents. Larry and Catherine were good parents and did their best to teach me all the things they thought I should know: how to share, love, work hard, be honest, love God and my Savior, treat others the way I want to be treated, endure hard things, be optimistic, look forward to marriage and a family of my own, stand up for the underdog, appreciate God’s creations, treat a woman, think for myself, serve, clean, cook, do laundry, drive, and not be wasteful—among many other things. My mom was always very good at helping me face consequences. She helped me understand the importance of repenting, apologizing, and asking for forgiveness. She accompanied me to several homes in our neighborhood, where I got to practice repenting.

Next, I have to thank and acknowledge my wife. Even though I was taught how to behave, it has been my wife—my soul mate, if you will—who has helped refine me the most. It is through our relationship and her patience and support that I have begun to understand what it means to love someone. I was in love when we first got married—no doubt about that—but now it is so much more. True love and friendship have blossomed through all the struggles we have been through together. I hate to think about where we would be had we quit on each other. When I think of my woman I like to think of a song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Here Comes My Girl”:

And then she looks me in the eye, says, “We gonna last forever.”
And man, you know I can’t begin to doubt it,
No, because this feels so good and so free and so right.
I know we ain’t never goin’ change our minds about it.

Her patience and faith in me have been a great blessing. Having a wife who knows the value of sacrificing wants for what is really important has been key to our family’s well-being.

We were blessed to be able to be involved with our kids through church, school, and sports. My wife had this habit of signing me up to coach when she went to the recreation center to sign the kids up for one of the many sports they played. She signed me up to coach every season, even though I had announced my official retirement from coaching the previous season. She knew better, and now our children are all grown up and I have all these great memories of the extra time I got to spend with my sons and daughters and their friends. I still have young adults stop me occasionally and ask me if I remember them from one of the teams I was able to coach.

I also have to acknowledge my faith and my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love being a Mormon. I have learned so much through my association with this faith. It has helped refine me and guide me and has helped me find a purpose bigger than myself that is eternal in nature. It has taught me to endure to the end and that to love God is to love my fellow beings, that salvation is through the Savior, and that salvation is possible. The plan of salvation, or great plan of happiness, brings me great comfort. I think of all those who have gone on before and who wait on the other side. I love the eternal nature of families. It all comes down to the importance of family. I love my family. They are my greatest inspiration and motivation. I also love how my church has taught me to find strength in the midst of trials and to draw spiritual strength from the trials of our ancestors.

There are many people and experiences that have enriched and blessed my life. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to have an eternal family. I have always instinctively known that the plan of salvation is true doctrine. It is my belief that most people, whether LDS or not, believe they will see their loved ones again after this life. It is my faith and belief in God’s plan of salvation that has helped guide me and will continue to guide my life and the choices I make.

LEARNING FROM LIFE’S DIFFICULT EXPERIENCES

I would like to share a few experiences from my early life that helped me develop my testimony and character. When I was about nine years old I suffered from the extreme fear of nothingness. The nothingness I feared was that there is nothing after and outside of this life. I had been taught to pray, so I put prayer into practice. We were living in Crow Agency, Montana, at the time, and it seemed I spent a large part of my time in the back of our family’s Chrysler station wagon (Larry was a Chrysler/Dodge man and loved the big engines in those wagons). In rural Montana, a short trip was anywhere between ten and 100 miles. Needless to say, I had lots of time to ponder the great mysteries of life while facing backward in the back seat of the old Safari classic station wagon.

On one particularly dark and ominous night, the fear of nothingness got so bad that I felt sick inside. I prayed a silent prayer just to know that God was there and that life after death is real. I felt an almost instant feeling of warmth and assurance that God is there and that His plan of salvation is real. It is hard to describe even now how good I felt then and how good I feel now when I remember that experience.

I grew up on the Crow Indian Reservation and attended a small branch off the reservation in Hardin, Montana. I had always looked forward to becoming a deacon; passing the sacrament seemed like a big deal and a worthy goal. I made it to age twelve and passed off the Articles of Faith, which someone had led me to believe I had to do or I would be stuck in Primary until I did.

I then needed the outfit of a deacon—the white shirt, tie, slacks, and shiny shoes. My parents, especially my mother, were very frugal, and I was growing at rates they found hard to gauge. Often I was outfitted in clothes they predicted I would grow into. So my first Sunday as a deacon I was outfitted in a white shirt with one of my dad’s clip-on ties—Larry loved the convenience of clip-on ties and hadn’t yet had time to teach me to tie a real tie—black shiny shoes, and a pair of black slacks about four sizes too big. I found a belt and strapped those big pants on nice and high, well above my waist, so the cuffs didn’t drag in the snow and ice.

As I was marching up to take my place on the bench in front of the sacrament table, several different members of the branch made jokes about my attire, especially the size of my slacks. By the time I reached the deacon bench, I had lost most of my self-confidence and desire to pass the sacrament. I soldiered up anyway and self-consciously did my deacon duty and passed the sacrament. After sacrament meeting, I had just about decided to quit and not come back the next Sunday. What happened next is not miraculous. (And I eventually grew into the pants.) I decided that I couldn’t and wouldn’t let what other people think and say about me keep me from doing what is right for me. I also learned I needed to be a little less sensitive. I know the jokesters who had made fun of me and my big, oversized pants probably thought they were funny and did not mean any harm and would have felt bad had they known how their comments affected me. Now when there is something I know I should do or want to do, I think of that kid in the oversized pants, and I hike my pants up and move ahead.

I probably spent more time as an undergraduate student than I needed to. My wife was very patient with my academic endeavors. I changed my major at least twice before I found something I truly excelled at. I remember that as I was closing in on graduation I was informed that if I wanted to graduate that coming April, I needed to complete a basic math class that was worth zero credits. I had avoided math as much as possible and had thought I was done with it. But I signed up for the class my final semester as an undergraduate at BYU.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I picked up the textbook at the Bookstore. This class turned out to be one of the most academically challenging experiences I have ever had. I spent many hours in the math lab trying to learn algebra. I wore out one poor tutor. She must have thought there was something seriously wrong with my memory. I faithfully worked with her every week up until the final exam. She was very kind and patient.

I remember leaving the math lab for the last time and heading to the testing center before I lost the knowledge I had gained that day. Amazingly, I did pass the final test and the class. I had such a feeling of relief and jubilation erupt in me that I could hardly stand it. I was going to graduate! I was so grateful I did not have to go home and disappoint my wife. Instead, we got to celebrate this achievement together. My grade in the class was not good, but I am probably as proud of that grade as I am of any I have ever earned because I truly earned it.

These experiences are far from the most difficult of my life; however, from these experiences I have learned whom I can trust and lean on when I have difficult situations to endure. I know I can always rely on my Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the influence of the Comforter. I have learned that if you work hard and have faith, God puts people in your life (like a math tutor) to help you accomplish what may seem improbable. I also have learned that it is important to forgive and be grateful and that when things are tough, I can hike up my pants and move forward, whether I look good doing it or not.

DECIDING WHO YOU WILL BE

I began my remarks talking about choices. As important as choices are—such as what to major in, what career path to take, where to live, and where to send the kids to school—the choices you make regarding the type of person you want to be are, in my opinion, more important and will help you make those very important decisions regarding the direction you choose for your life and your family. As you stay close to the Lord, it may at times seem that as much as you want one path, you will feel inspired and guided—pushed—in another direction.

If you would like, you can take some time and think about the type of person you want to be from now through eternity. Deciding what kind of person you want to be does not eliminate difficult decisions or make you perfect, but I believe it will help you to make better choices and find peace of mind. What characteristics and attributes are important to you? Personal integrity, honesty, time with family, kindness, patience, perseverance, work ethic, frugality, service, respect for others, charity?

Anything good or worthwhile takes time, practice, and perseverance. The temptation to be less than you know you can be is always lurking and ready to present itself to you as an opportunity for personal gain or pleasure. Walking away from temptation—even when no one would know—and being true to yourself and God is a test passed. You and I will continue to take on many tests of our character and resolve. Often the pressure to be less will come from unexpected sources, such as desperate friends and family unwilling to accept consequences. Failing a test is not the end of the world. Failing to learn from that test could be.

When I am dealing with things that are physical, mentally, or spiritually hard, I like to recite scriptures in my mind to help remind me that God is mindful of me. Here are three of my favorite scriptures that I like to recite during difficult or challenging times:

And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. [D&C 14:7]

Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me. [Mosiah 26:30]

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. [Philippians 4:13]

Our ability to endure and continue to repent and improve is a blessing that is within each of our abilities and our grasp. We have so many great promises from God in the scriptures—promises we can count on if we are willing to reach out to God. I hope we can all be happy with who we are and who we are becoming. I like “me,” and I hope to like myself even better as I become a better version of me.

Life is a journey, and I hope you enjoy it. May God bless you in all you do. God does live, and He is mindful of each of us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

This article was written and delivered by James L. Slaughter. James L. Slaughter was BYU chaplain and assistant dean of students when this devotional address was given on 1 July 2014. This article is shared from the following website: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/james-l-slaughter_blessings-choice/

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Exercise and Happiness

Physical Health – Exercise

The part can never be well unless the whole is well. –Plato

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. -World Health Organization

The top line: abundant scientific research demonstrates the close connection of the mind and body. Positive lifestyle factors including exercise, nutrition, sunlight, and sleep are associated with improved mental well-being and lower incidence of depression and anxiety.

Have you ever noticed that you feel great after going for a run? Do you love working out or playing sports on a regular basis? The vast majority of studies addressing this subject have shown that there is a significant association between exercise and improved mood and mental well-being. However, it has proven difficult to show that exercise directly causes these improvements. Are “happier people” simply more inclined to exercise or does exercise result in a more positive mood and greater mental well-being?

Researchers studying exercise have consistently found that it has a positive impact on mood. It has been proven that physical activity stimulates the release of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, called endorphins (Fox, 1999). Some researchers argue that exercise acts as a diversion from negative thoughts (Smith, 2006). Others argue that exercise improves mood by virtue of the personal growth and goal attainment that results from efforts to master a physical skill (Ströhle, 2009). Furthermore, research evidence indicates that the social interaction involved in certain kinds of exercise (such as team sports) contributes to personal satisfaction and consequently, mood enhancement (Stubbe, 2007)

Exercise has also been studied as an alternative treatment to the traditional antidepressant medications and cognitive-behavioral therapies used for depression. The Cochrane Review (the most world-renowned review of its kind) has produced a landmark meta-analysis of studies on exercise and depression. Twenty-three studies were rigorously selected amongst a pool of over 100 studies. Based on collective evidence, it was concluded that exercise has a “large clinical impact” on depression.

Blumenthal et al. studied the effect of exercise on older adults experiencing clinical depression. They compared exercise to a commonly prescribed anti-depressant medication (Zoloft), and found that both treatments were equally effective in reducing depressive symptoms.

The jury still seems to be out in terms of whether or not exercise causes happiness and to what degree it has a positive impact on well-being compared to other factors. While we think the evidence supports exercise as being beneficial, we look forward to seeing new studies in this area in the upcoming years.


Practical Tips for Exercise

  • If possible, engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity on a daily basis.
  • Vary the type of exercise you do, and choose activities that use your strengths and that you enjoy.
  • For those who cannot do high impact workouts, try low impact activities like walking, swimming, or biking.

Here’s an infographic about 16 reasons why exercise makes us happy, contributed by one of our readers (source).

Today’s article was shared from the following website:http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/exercise/

 

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