Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lie #19: I Can’t Be Happy Yet

The prophet Lehi in the Book of Mormon teaches that “men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “happiness is the object and design of our existence.” To me these are saying that men and women—all of us—exist in order to find joy and happiness. Yet I think there is a general misunderstanding about the nature of happiness in this life. I hear a lot of people say that we’re not meant to experience real joy in this life because it’s just not possible. When we die, and all of our earthly cares and worries are gone, then we can be happy. When we’re finally rid of our bodies and we don’t have to experience pain and physical discomfort anymore, then we can be happy. Frankly, I think these ideas are false. I’ve talked about this a little before in my “Life is Hard” post, but the scriptures tell us that if we don’t figure out how to be happy in this life, we’re not going to magically have it afterwards. Joseph Smith taught, “that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” (Doctrine & Covenants 130:2) In the Book of Mormon, Jacob explains that at death “they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still.” (2 Nephi 9:16) In other words, the sort of person that we are in our mortal bodies will be the same sort of person we will be without our bodies. The prophet Amulek confirms this: “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis [death], that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:34) Therefore, if we are depressed and unhappy in this life, wouldn’t it make sense that we will still be trying to figure out why we are depressed and unhappy in the next life? Now is the time to figure it out. Now is the time to discover how to be happy and how to have joy. “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:32)

With this understanding, it makes sense to me that I need to work on being happy now, rather than waiting for something to happen or something to be obtained in order for my happiness to magically appear. Thomas Monson has said, “This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.” (Thomas S Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey”) I have spent time pining away for this illusive and nonexistent future he speaks of, and I have learned that in doing so, I was getting nowhere. I used to imagine myself running full speed along my path, my intention to reach the throne of God and finally obtain “happiness.” But I learned that I needed to slow down, explore the path, greet those who are walking with me, and realize that happiness was there on that path all along. I was just too focused on the goal to see and to feel it. Now I see myself walking instead of running. I’m still moving forward, but I’m paying attention to what is all around me.

“One of the greatest of all God’s revelations is Father Lehi’s teaching that ‘men are, that they might have joy.’ Joy is more than happiness. Joy is the ultimate sensation of well-being. It comes from being complete and in harmony with our Creator and his eternal laws.” (Dallin H Oaks, “Joy and Mercy”) King Benjamin invited his people to consider “the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold,” he said, “they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven … [to] dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.” (Mosiah 2:41) So if having joy has to do with being complete and in harmony with my Creator, that just means I need to do my best to be obedient, right? Is it possible to be completely obedient? I believe it is. I agree with author John Pontius who wrote, “…we do have the ability to be perfectly and flawlessly obedient—as Christ was. The beauty and power of Christ’s plan is that as we obey him, he will provide all that we lack. He will close the great chasm we cannot cross by changing us so that we meet the standard of righteousness.” (John M Pontius, The Triumph of Zion)

As you think about these things, I invite you to ask God—whichever God you believe in—if they are true. Do you believe you can find happiness in this life, or are you waiting for it to magically appear? If you believe, then move toward that belief. The more you believe, the more abundantly happiness can be attracted to you.

happy

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Lie #18: The Devil Rules the Night

As a young child, I wasn’t afraid of the dark like a lot of kids are, but I was afraid of mirrors at night. I had a mirror in my bedroom and I could not sleep unless it was covered. If I woke up in the night needing to use the bathroom, I avoided looking at the bathroom mirror, or I switched on the light. I just could not handle seeing anything moving in a mirrored surface in the dark. I think I’ve talked myself into the logic of this being an irrational fear, but a lot of children are afraid of the dark. Lots of people experience night terrors and nightmares when they are young, and lots of people, like I did, imagine seeing things in the dark that are not really there. I think all of this behavior boils down to a single lie, and that is that the devil rules the night. The logic is that if the sun and the brightness of day are symbolic of the Savior and his light, then nighttime must belong to the dark side. When I started really questioning this, I could not find any evidence that it’s true. So why are we afraid? Why are people afraid of spooky cemeteries at night and dark alleys? Why do horror movies always take place at night? Frightening things always seem to happen in the absence of light.

I have not been able to find anything in the scriptures that says that the devil has any more power in the night time than he does during the day, but I think that’s what he wants us to believe. When we sleep, our bodies heal themselves, eliminate toxins, and process the events of our day, so if the evil one can disrupt this time of healing and reparation, he’s won a victory. And if he can get us to believe that if we are asleep we are not in control of our bodies or our minds, he can invade our dreams and disrupt our rest. I want to dispel this lie because it simply isn’t true.

“Sleep, new research reveals, is a master regulator of health. A sleep deficit or disruption can create wide-ranging havoc, compromising our immune system, causing inflammation, and damaging our genes. Lack of sleep can also lead to memory loss, negatively affect people’s reflexes and decision-making skills, cause hearing loss and psychiatric disease, and impede sexual function. Why? Because when we don’t get enough sleep, our immune systems go into overdrive, which causes systemic inflammation and turns on dangerous genetic switches.” (Pamela Weintraub, “The Healing Power of Sleep”)

Think of all the positive things that happen at night. Not only is the sleep state a time when the physical body can heal and repair and process, many people have prophetic and inspired dreams. Some people get their best ideas while they’re asleep. Writers, musicians, scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs have often created their best work after dreaming about it. Even Jesus Christ was born during the night, when a new star could be visible in the sky. We do have control over what our minds and our bodies experience while we are asleep. If the subconscious mind can influence our bodies while we are awake, why couldn’t it be influencing it while we sleep? Our spirits have the power to protect us. The truth is, night time is not your enemy; night time is your friend. If you are experiencing disturbances and disruptions, consider what you may be able to do to correct them. Your body needs those precious hours of night to renew itself and provide you your best ideas to carry out the next day.

sleep

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Lie #17: Beauty

 

warningAs I was walking the other evening, the sun was setting behind me and my shadow stretched out in front of me like a giant version of myself. I shuddered at the thought of being that large, but I knew that it was not an accurate version of my shape and size. Like my shadow, the world seems to place a lens over our eyes in terms of how we’re supposed to look. I’m getting tired of our culture and western society dictating to me what I need to look like in order to be acceptable. It’s time I wrote about this. It’s time I let go of whatever notions I have about the way I look and the way you look and the way I expect people to look and just accept us all for how we look right now.

As women, our society tells us by the ads we watch that our skin must be smooth and blemish- and wrinkle-free. Our hair must never be gray unless we’re really old. We must aim to look like a Cover Girl, with perfect makeup and long eyelashes and white teeth. Our bodies must have curves in the right places, and be flat and toned in all the other places. We must have long, luxurious hair on our heads and no hair anywhere else. Men have a similar set of standards.

If we don’t look like this, we just don’t measure up. It’s not even other people looking at us and saying this to us. Our society teaches us to say this to ourselves. Can you imagine a world where we didn’t feel like we needed to look like the people on television, and we could just look however we looked and that was acceptable?

I’m not saying let yourself go, don’t bathe and don’t make an effort to look clean and presentable. It’s important to care about the way you look. In fact, not caring at all represents other issues. But what if for once we looked in the mirror and didn’t see something we wished could be different—we just smiled and winked and loved that reflection just the way it is?

The truth is that you and your body are more acceptable and more beautiful than you realize. Your body is awesome no matter what it looks like, because it has to be. It’s the only one you get. If you don’t love it and accept it, you may struggle along like someone we know who recently died, authorizing surgery after surgery to try and change it and make it look like something else. Your body and your spirit together make YOU. “And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:15) “The physical body is a divine gift, a complement crucial to the spirit if we are to receive a fulness of heavenly joy and glory. The Doctrine and Covenants declares that ‘spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.’” (John Tanner, “The Body As a Blessing”)

“I marvel at the miracle of the human mind and body. Have you ever contemplated the wonders of yourself, the eyes with which you see, the ears with which you hear, the voice with which you speak? No camera ever built can compare with the human eye. No method of communication ever devised can compare with the voice and the ear. No pump ever built will run as long or as efficiently as the human heart. No computer or other creation of science can equal the human brain. What a remarkable thing you are. You can think by day and dream by night. You can speak and hear and smell. Look at your finger. The most skillful attempt to reproduce it mechanically has resulted in only a crude approximation. The next time you use your finger, watch it, look at it, and sense the wonder of it. You are a child of God, His crowning creation. After He had formed the earth, separated the darkness from the light, divided the waters, created the plant and animal kingdoms—after all this He created man and then woman.” (Gordon Hinkley, “The Body is Sacred”)

I submit to you that the world’s definition of what is beautiful and what is acceptable is not the true definition of beauty. If we could remove the blinders of the world’s ideas and definitions and see ourselves for what we truly are, we would be astounded by the beauty and majesty of these physical bodies. We would thank God every day for the gift that they are—for they allow us an opportunity to become like Him. Next time you look in the mirror, put away the criticism and try giving yourself a compliment. Let’s love our bodies!

loveyourbody

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,