Friday, November 20, 2009

We Are Our Own Best Help

I was reading a book the other day on depression and was struck by something the author said: “The crucial decision to try to help yourself is the key that will allow you to feel better as soon as possible” (David D. Burns, M.D., Feeling Good, p. 23, emphasis in original). If you have been reading Good News! for long you know that I have been reading the self-help literature that is available and comparing it to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the teachings in the literature are based on solid gospel principles, but some of the things being taught are way off base and could be detrimental to our eternal welfare.

This statement from Dr. Burns is not only right on as a gospel principle, but is foundational to our spiritual growth. It is all about the great gift of agency that God has given us. We live in a world that teaches us that we are pawns beings manipulated by situations, heritage, environment, and chemicals within us. Some of that is true. Those things absolutely do influence us, but we underestimate the power, through our agency, we have to override those influences.

When people are dismayed, discouraged or depressed they tend to wait for a cure—a medicine that will work or a friend or health-care provider that will rescue them and give them the answers to their problems. But the gospel teaches us that we should be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). What better cause than our own mental well-being?

Thus when we are determined to help ourselves, when we acknowledge that we can choose a different course, we begin a chain of feelings and attitudes that heal and strengthen and help us to grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The amazing thing is that just by determining that we are going to help ourselves, we open the door for the Spirit to be more active in our lives.


Wendi said...

I read a lot about faith, hope, and charity yesterday while trying to help my mom gather information for a talk. It was very helpful to dwell on those Christ-like attributes. The Good News of the gospel is such a blessing and choosing to focus on the good and the positive is always so helpful. :)

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was going through some pretty serious trials and I found myself in the self-help section of a book store. I looked over those books a LONG time until the strong impression came to me that I already knew how to help myself and the answers to my questions could be found in gospel writings, not in those books. I left without buying anything, and it's taken a couple of years, but I DID find the answers I needed right where I knew they would be. And lucky for us, we don't have to go far. The November Ensign sitting on my nightstand can help me gain insight to be able to fix my problems. Even the big ones.

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, What a fun time to research faith, hope, and charity. I'll bet it was a great day!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Jen, Your compass guided you well. I have found some wonderful things in those books, but you have to be careful. Whereas you Ensign you can take it all in with no worries! We are so blessed!

Barb Elder said...

Sherrie you are amazing again. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.