5 Reasons Why Having Faith Is So Important

Faith talks in the language of God. Doubt talks in the language of man E.W. Kenyon

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” — Thomas Aquinas

Why is Faith so Important?

Sometimes, when things don’t go according to plan, we lose faith, not only in ourselves but also in any potential outcome in our lives. Failure will do that to you. When we experience life’s monumental failures, it’s easy to lose hope and even faith.

But what’s the difference?

Faith, at its core, is deep-rooted in the expectation of good things to come. It goes beyond hope. While much of hope lives in the mind, faith is steeped in the heart and the spirit. It can’t be explained away by reason or logic, or be understood through a single dimension.

While life can be hard at the best of times, faith is the knowledge, deep down inside, that things will get better. It’s taking the next step when you can’t see the entire staircase. Simply put, life would fail to have reason if we didn’t have faith.

We couldn’t drive our cars without faith that someone wouldn’t cross the divider and crash into us. If we didn’t have faith, how could we fly in an airplane, a metallic machine soaring 35,000 feet in the air? Without faith, how could we move from one moment to the next without completely second-guessing every last thing that we did?

Without faith, we couldn’t expect that things would turn out all right for us no matter what the situation might be.

Faith, then, is just as important as the air we breathe. While the oxygen in the air nourishes the body, faith nourishes the heart and the soul. It’s the energy that courses through every single fiber and cell within our beings. It’s part of every muscle and every strand of thought. It is the fundamental foundation of our existence.

Simply put, the importance of faith cannot be underestimated.

People have moved mountains with their faith. Even when situations seemed dire and bleak, it was their faith that carried them through. There’s little to no explanation for it in the physical realm; it’s the metaphysical fiber that binds us all, carrying each of our deepest wishes and desires. That’s where faith lives.

Unfortunately, some people don’t believe in things that they cannot see. They explain things away due to other causes and effects, failing to find the small miracles in life that exist and work in our favor on a constant basis. There’s an enormous level of importance attributable to having faith in life.

5 Reasons to Have Faith

Faith isn’t just a notion that some people hold onto in tough times; faith is an important element of all human life on earth. Life is precious, but it can also be remarkably difficult at times. Faith is what helps to get us through, illuminating the pathway in times of darkness, helping to give us strength in times of weakness. Without faith, we are nothing.

Here are 5 reasons why having faith is so important in life.

#1 — The focused power of faith breeds abundance

The mind is an incredibly powerful tool. It can be used for good, but also go to waste when neglected or abused. In times of trouble, we tend to move away from positivity. We go from a state of abundance to a state of lack. But, faith is the tool that helps replenish abundance in the heart and the spirit, not just in the mind.

Whatever it is that we focus on in life, we get more of. If we focus on problems, we live solely in those problems and have difficulty moving past the negativity. Alternatively, however, when we focus on positivity and seek out solutions, we can resolve our problems and move from a state of lack back to a state of abundance.

When we train our minds to think in abundance, and we hold unwavering faith, we gravitate towards that. We attract good things because we believe and expect in good things to come. Similarly, when we believe and expect bad things to come, we also attract that into our lives.

Faith is the pathway for abundance, so be sure to hold it at the forefront of your mind. Don’t be afraid to expect the very best for yourself. This isn’t about being selfish or aimlessly wishing for things; this is about the true, utter, deep-down belief in your heart and your soul that things will improve, and that you deserve the very best in life.

#2 — Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

There’s a powerful story in the bible called the Book of Job. The story is about a man named Job who was as astute as any man could be. He believed strongly in God and held high is faith. But the story goes that one day the devil paid God a visit. The topic of discussion? Job’s faith.

The devil reasoned that Job was faithful because he had been blessed with so much in life. Family, money, land, and respect. But the devil proposed that should God take any number of these things away from Job, he would no longer be the faithful man that God held him up to be. The devil claimed that Job would curse God and that his point would be all but proven. God, of course, disagreed.

So, this agreement began when God began taking things away from Job’s life. Over the course of these trials, Job loses everything that he had worked so hard to create over the years. His livestock, all his money, his family, his friends, and his health. However, even when his wife told him he should curse God, Job didn’t. He remained faithful.

Afterwards, God restored all of Job’s worldly possessions, family, and health. To add to that, God multiplied what Job once had many times over. The moral of the story? Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Times might be bad and you might want to throw in that proverbial towel. But never lose faith. For a person without faith is likened to a stream without water — they would cease to exist.

#3 — Faith helps you to discover your purpose in life

Going through life and all of its ups and downs can take a toll on us. At times, it’s enough to question our very existence. But through all of the trials and tribulations, we might face, it’s faith that gives us that helping hand. It works to guide us in the right direction, moving us towards and allowing us to discover our purpose in life.

This doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, when we’re faced with a difficult situation, it gets harder before it gets better. Little by little, a part of us is broken, until one day, we dig deep down inside and somehow find the strength we needed to make it through. That strength comes from our faith. Whether it’s your faith in God or in something else, that faith shall set you free.

Everything in life is far easier to get through when we have faith. It’s the guiding light that helps push us towards our purpose.

#4 — Faith trumps stress, anxiety, and fear

It’s easy to allow stress, anxiety, and fear to run our lives. We go from moment to moment worried about one thing or another. Sometimes, those worries manifest themselves in highly-stressful situations, causing not only mental anguish but physical problems as well. There’s a clear and documented connection between stress and the increased likelihood of disease and illness.

When we allow our minds to move into that realm unchecked, there’s no telling of the damage that can be done. But it’s faith that helps to keep those things at bay. Even when we have no reason to believe that things will get better, it’s through faith that our situations do improve. When you hold the utter expectation of that in your mind, no challenge is too difficult.

Learn to harbor faith and use it to eliminate stress, anxiety, and fear. Think back to situations in the past when you made it through something you thought was insurmountable. Believe and expect that good things will happen, and they will. This isn’t about ignoring your problems; this is about knowing that your situation will improve deep down inside your heart and your soul.

#5 — It acts as the pathway to finding solutions

Faith is the pathway to finding solutions in life. Keep in mind that human beings were made to thrive, and not just survive. If you’re only surviving, there’s far greater in store for you. There’s a pathway to all of your solutions, and that pathway is steeped in faith and the expectation of greater things to come in time.

No matter what the situation is, no matter how bad or dire you think it might seem, your faith can and will get you through it. You must accept that as fact, and hold on to the expectation of greater things to come. Don’t stop pushing or searching for an answer to help resolve whatever situation you might be facing in your life.

If you really want something in life, and I mean you really want it deep down inside and you have a strong enough reason you absolutely must achieve it, faith is the thing that helps you to see that through. It’s at the core of a persistent heart. Never give up on your hopes and your dreams just because you faced some initial setbacks. Lean on your faith as often as possible and you’ll soon come to realize why having unwavering faith is so important in life.

Today’s article has been shared from the following website: https://www.wanderlustworker.com/5-reasons-why-having-faith-is-so-important/

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Finding the Good in Life

Find the Small Things

 

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The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people 1 Chronicles 16:34

Do you want more from your life?

More happiness? Better health? Deeper relationships? Increased productivity?

What if I told you that just one thing can help you in all of those areas?

An Attitude of Gratitude

What the heck? Gratitude? Is this a Christian blog?

No. I’m not even religious. When I first started looking into gratitude, I wasn’t expecting much.

I was wrong:

The 31 Benefits of Gratitude

Seriously? All that? Yes. This list of benefits was compiled by aggregating the results of more than 40 research studies on gratitude.

1. Gratitude makes us happier.

A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.a1,a2,a3 That’s the same impact as doubling your income!a4

How can a free five-minute activity compare? Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career.

Sure, having more money can be pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaptation we quickly get used to it and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first.

Effect of Gratitude Journal

2. Gratitude makes people like us.

Gratitude generates social capital – in two studies with 243 total participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital.b1

Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.b2

3. Gratitude makes us healthier.

Check it out:

Health Benefits of Gratitude: Improved Sleep, Fitness, Mental Health, and More

There is even reason to believe gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years.f2,f3,f4

4. Gratitude boosts our career.

Gratitude makes you a more effective manager,c1,c2 helps you network, increases your decision-making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges.b1 As a result, gratitude helps you achieve your career goals, as well as making your workplace a more friendly and enjoyable place to be.a2, b2

Do you think this is effective?

I’m not suggesting that criticism and self-focus don’t have a place in the workplace, but I think we’re overdoing it.

65% of Americans didn’t receive recognition in the workplace last year.c3

5. Gratitude strengthens our emotions.

Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.b2,d1,d2,d3

6. Gratitude develops our personality.

It really does, and in potentially life-changing ways.a2,b2,d2,e1,e2

Personality Benefits, Like Optimism and Less Materialism, of Gratitude

If you’re a man, don’t worry; gratitude won’t transform you into a woman.

Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Optimism, in turn, makes us happier, improves our health, and has been shown to increase lifespan by as much as a few years.f1,f2,f3,f4 I’d say a 5 minute a day gratitude journal would be worth it just for this benefit.

7. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.

Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Optimism, in turn, makes us happier, improves our health, and has been shown to increase lifespan by as much as a few years.f1,f2,f3,f4 I’d say a 5 minute a day gratitude journal would be worth it just for this benefit.

8. Gratitude reduces materialism.

Materialism is strongly correlated with reduced well-being and increased rates of mental disorder.g1There’s nothing wrong with wanting more. The problem with materialism is that it makes people feel less competent, reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude, reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life, generates negative emotions, and makes them more self-centered.g1,g2,g3

Gratitude has caused me to focus less on things that don’t matter, like making money, and more on the things that do, like my family and this blog. I think that’s a good thing.

9. Gratitude increases spiritualism.

Spiritual transcendence is highly correlated with feelings of gratitude. That is – the more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be grateful.

This is for two reasons:

  1. All major religions espouse gratitude as a virtue.h1
  2. Spirituality spontaneously gives rise to grateful behavior.

I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities. I am irreligious and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. My solution has been to re-direct my feelings towards Lady Luck.

10. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.

I’ll be totally honest, I’m a self-centered twat. I’m a lot better now that I’ve brought gratitude into my life, but I still spend way too much time thinking about myself, and too little thinking about others. I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices, I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others.

This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on their acts of benevolence). In this regard, gratitude practice can be better than self-esteem therapy. Self-esteem therapy focuses the individual back on themselves: I’m smart, I look good, I can succeed, etc….

That can work, but it can also make us narcissistic or even back-fire and lower self-esteem.i1

11. Gratitude increases self-esteem.

Imagine a world where no one helps you. Despite your asking and pleading, no one helps you.

Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you. In which world do you think you would have more self-esteem? Gratitude helps to create a world like that.

12. Gratitude improves your sleep.

Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. Said differently, gratitude can help with insomnia.a2,j1\

The key is what’s on our minds as we’re trying to fall asleep. If it’s worries about the kids, or anxiety about work, the level of stress in our body will increase, reducing sleep quality, keeping us awake, and cutting our sleep short.

13. Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor.

Gratitude can’t cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning.

Positive emotion improves health. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. This confidence comes from 137 research studies.

Gratitude is a positive emotion. It’s no far stretch that some of the benefits (e.g. better coping & management of terminal conditions like cancer and HIV,k1,k2 faster recovery from certain medical procedures, positive changes in immune system functioning,k3 more positive health behavior,k4,k5 etc…) apply to gratitude as well.

In fact, some recent science shows just that – those who engage in gratitude practices have been shown to feel less pain, go to the doctor less often, have lower blood pressure, and be less likely to develop a mental disorder.a1,a2,k6

14. Gratitude lets you live longer.

I will be honest with you – by combining the results of a few different studies I’m confident that gratitude can extend lifespan, but no single study as yet has actually proven this claim.

Here is what we know: optimism and positive emotion, in general, have been used to successfully predict mortality decades later.f2,f3,f4 The optimistic lived a few years longer than the pessimistic. A few years may not sound like much, but I know when I’m about to die I’d like to have a few more years!

We also know that gratitude is strongly correlated with positive emotion. So, gratitude –> positive emotion –> an extra few months or years on earth. With positive psychology research on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years.

15. Gratitude increases your energy levels.

Gratitude and vitality are strongly correlated – the grateful are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor.

16. Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise.

In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.a2 No other study has yet to replicate these results. It could be because other gratitude studies testing this effect have been much shorter – in the range of one to three weeks, or it could be because this result was a fluke.

Once again, time will tell – but it would not surprise me if being grateful for one’s health would increase one’s tendency to want to protect it by exercising more.

17. Gratitude helps us bounce back.

Those that have more gratitude have a more pro-active coping style, are more likely to have and seek out social support in times of need, are less likely to develop PTSD, and are more likely to grow in times of stress.b1,b2,d1In others words, they are more resilient.

18. Gratitude makes us feel good.

Surprise, surprise: gratitude actually feels good. Yet only 20% of Americans rate gratitude as a positive and constructive emotion (compared to 50% of Europeans).l1According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the-fact to have been caused by the kindness of others.  Gratitude doesn’t just make us happier, it is happiness in and of itself! That’s no surprise – we idealize the illusion of self-sufficiency.

Gratitude, pah! That’s for the weak. No, it’s not. Gratitude feels good, and if the benefits on this page are any indication – gratitude will make you stronger, healthier, and more successful. Are you afraid to admit that luck, God, family members, friends, and/or strangers have and will continue to strongly influence your life? I once was – not only was I less happy, I was also weaker. It takes strength to admit to the truth of inter-dependency.

19. Gratitude makes our memories happier.

Our memories are not set in stone, like data stored on a hard-drive. There are dozens of ways our memories get changed over time – we remember things as being worse than they actually were, as being longer or shorter, people as being kinder or crueler, as being more or less interesting, and so on.

Experiencing gratitude in the present makes us more likely to remember positive memories,m1 and actually transforms some of our neutral or even negative memories into positive ones.m2

In one study, putting people into a grateful mood helped them find closure of upsetting open memories.m2 During these experiences, participants were more likely to recall positive aspects of the memory than usual, and some of the negative and neutral aspects were transformed into positives.

20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.

A small bit of jealousy or envy directed at the right target is motivating. Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness.

21. Gratitude helps us relax.

Gratitude and positive emotion in general are among the strongest relaxants known to man. I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn’t relax. I’ll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard! In this case, too hard – I ended up getting out of bed.

Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique. Think of it like tea – one or two cups help you relax – three of four make you want to empty your bladder.   But it could just be me. Perhaps you’ll find practices of gratitude more natural and easy.

22. Gratitude makes you friendlier.

Multiple studies have shown that gratitude induces pro-social behavior. Keeping a gratitude journal is enough to make you more likely to help others with their problems and makes you more likely to offer them emotional support.a2,b1

23. Gratitude helps your marriage.

I’ve never been married, but from what I’ve heard, read, and seen, one-way marriages start to suffer is that when the passion starts to fizzle, the partners become less appreciative and more naggy.

Scientists have put numbers to our intuition and experience, creating an appreciation to naggy ratio. More formally called the Losada ratio, it divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement, and appreciation) made during a typical interaction by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism). When the ratio was below .9, that is there were 11% more negative expressions than positive expressions, marriages plummeted towards divorce or languishment.

Those marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positivity ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).s1Building regular practices of gratitude into your marriage is an easy but effective way of raising your positivity ratio.

24. Gratitude makes you look good.

Ingratitude is universally regarded with contempt.  It’s opposite, gratitude is considered a virtue in all major religions and most modern cultures. It may not be sexy to be grateful, but people will respect you for it.

Gratitude is not the same thing as indebtedness, which we rightly avoid. Indebtedness is a negative emotion which carries an assumption of repayment

Gratitude is not the same thing as weakness. Weakness is flattery or subservience. Gratitude is the acknowledgment of kindness with thanks. It takes humility to acknowledge that we didn’t get to where we are all on our own – that without others we may never have made it. That’s why, just maybe, gratitude may be sexy too.

25. Gratitude helps you make friends.

When I was in college I found it really easy to make new friends. If I hadn’t moved out of NYC it would still be easy – living in a farm town makes it difficult. I’ve found an effective way to start a conversation or move a relationship forward is an expression of gratitude, “thank you for that coffee, it was super delicious.” *wink, wink* Ah, my mistake – that’s actually what I use to hit on my barista. But you get the point.

26. Gratitude deepens friendships.

I have one friend who always deeply thanks me for taking the time to see her. That makes me feel appreciated and that makes me feel good. Wouldn’t it make you feel good too?

27. Gratitude makes you a more effective manager.

Effective management requires a toolbox of skills. Criticism comes all too easily to most, while the ability to feel gratitude and express praise is often lacking.

Timely, sincere, specific, behavior-focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Specifically, multiple studies have found expressions of gratitude to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism to be slightly de-motivating but providing more expectation clarification.t1,t2Contrary to expectation, if praise is moderate and behavior focused, repeat expressions of gratitude will not lose their impact, and employee performance will increase.2Because of our culture, expressions of gratitude are often difficult to give – cultivating an attitude of gratitude will help.

I’ve seen firsthand the powerful difference between interacting with subordinates more with praise and interacting with some more with criticism. Those I’ve given more praise are more enthusiastic about working with me, express more creativity, and are so much more fun to work with.

28. Gratitude helps you network.

Gratitude has been shown across a number of studies to increase social behavior. Two longitudinal studies showed that those with higher levels of gratitude actually developed more social capital than those with lower levels.

29. Gratitude increases your goal achievement.

In one study, participants were asked to write down those goals which they wished to accomplish over the next two months. Those who were instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported more progress on achieving their goals at the end of the study. One result doesn’t make science – what you should take away from this is that, at the least, gratitude will not make you lazy and passive. It might even do the opposite!

30. Gratitude improves your decision making.

Decision making is really tiring – so tiring that we automate to our subconscious much of the reasoning that goes behind making a decision. Even for the most basic of decisions, like where to go eat, there are dozens of variables to consider: how much time and money do I want to spend, what cuisine would I like today, am I willing to travel far, what should I get once I get there, and so on. If you deliberated on each of these decisions one at a time, your mind would be overwhelmed. The problem gets even worse for more complex decisions like making a diagnosis.

In one study, doctors were given a list of ailments from a hypothetical patient and also given a misleading piece of information—that the patient had been diagnosed at another hospital as having lupus. Half the doctors had gratitude evoked by giving them a token of appreciation. Those who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis of lupus; those who did receive the gratitude were energized to expend more energy and to pay their gratitude forward onto their patient. They also considered a wider range of treatment options.

The above study shows that gratitude motivates improved decision making. Those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude find tokens of appreciation every day, on their own.

31. Gratitude increases your productivity.

Those who are insecure have difficulty focusing because many of their mental resources are tied up with their worries. On the other hand, those who are highly confident are able to be more productive, because they can direct more of their focus towards their work. This operates at both a conscious and subconscious level – we may be getting mentally distracted by our worries, or more commonly, parts of our subconscious mind are expending energy to suppress negative information and concerns.z1As gratitude has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce insecurity, this means that it can help us focus and improve our productivity. Gratitude is no cure-all, but it is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness.

Today’s article was written by H.H. and is shared from the following website: http://happierhuman.com/author/happierhuman/

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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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Stop Waiting for The Perfect Time. There isn’t One!

You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.”― Napoleon Hill

There is never a perfect time for you to take action. There is never a perfect time for you to launch that project, to spend time with your family, to write a book, change your habit, or embrace a new habit. Once you acknowledge this, you will get a lot more meaningful work done every day.

Kill the excuses!

I’m too tired. I don’t have the time. I am not capable. Someone else will do it. It’s too late now. Now is not the right time. I am not talented. I am not ready. I’m too scared. Nobody will help me. What if I fail. I don’t feel motivated. I’d rather do nothing. I don’t have the money..yet!

It’s easy to come up with excuses and justify not getting started. The longer you fill your head with rationalizations and empty excuses, the less time you have to take action.

It’s easy to say, “I will start when I have more experience, money, time and resources”. By this time next year, you will have a lot more excuses. It’s a cycle. And once you get caught in the loop, it can be difficult to break free and do something meaningful you care about.

Many people are living their entire lives without ever standing up and stepping out. But it’s exciting to witness the rare few who dare themselves and step out of their personal bubbles to make a change.

Most of us live with the stubborn illusion that we will always have tomorrow to do today’s work. We consistently hold on to this belief and keep procrastinating until work becomes a heavy burden.

Left unchecked, we always default toward a more comfortable path. Your comfortable zone provides a state of mental security. You can understand why it’s so hard to kick your brain out of your comfort zone.

It pays to be an outlier!

“Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” — Malcom Gladwell

Outliers are those who seize opportunities and run with them. People who realize how little time they have and are driven to make the absolute most of it. Those are the ones who really live.

Studies consistently show that when we look back on our lives the most common regrets are not the risks we took, but the ones we didn’t. Of the many regrets people describe, regrets of inaction outnumber those of action by nearly two to one.

Some of the most common include not being more assertive and failing to seize the moment. When people reflect later in life, it is the things they did not do that generate the greatest despair. You can seize the moment today!

Getting past the biggest hurdle!

The biggest hurdle for many of us is simply getting started. Making that important decision to take a step. You can be as big and successful as you can possibly imagine if you build that mindset you need to step outside the safe zone. You just don’t trust yourself enough yet.

You have everything you need to make an impact in the world if you can get past the excuses. You don’t even have to start a new project. What you need is something you can emotionally and deeply connect with.

Don’t think too far into the future. Use what you have right now at where you are and witness the magic of creative work. If you’re thinking about it too much, chances are you’re killing it.

Get started now!

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” ― Anonymous, The Bhagavad Gita

No matter who you are or what you dream of becoming, remember this: No one ever came to this planet to take a back seat, play second fiddle or make it small.

Stop questioning yourself. Stop listening to everyone else. The world is waiting for you to start something. Waiting to hear what you have to say. Waiting to use your creative product or service. Waiting to share your ideas and original work.

Remember the dream you were too scared to chase? It’s still not too late to give it a try. We tend to think that we’re not good enough and give up before we even start. The fear of taking risks never goes away but it does become familiar.

The self-criticism and self-doubt will always be present, and the only solution is to just act in spite of them. Your first ebook, article, song, podcast, freelancer work or creative work will not be satisfying and perfect, and it’s okay.

When we express ourselves in a way that brings out the best in us, we’ve already succeeded. Step by step we improve despite the temporary failures. That’s what matters. It matters that you persist.

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect.
There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions.
So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” —
Mark Victor Hansen

Take advantage of the enormous opportunities the information age presents. You have everything you need to go make something meaningful. Something you deeply care about. You don’t have to be right when you start. But it matters that you begin now.

There isn’t a right time for anything. There’s no such thing as perfect timing. If it feels right, just go for it today. Don’t wait until everything is just perfect or right. Get started now.

Today’s article was written by Thomas Oppong and is shared from the following website: https://medium.com/the-mission/stop-waiting-for-the-perfect-time-there-isnt-one-249e2f9e34fb

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