Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dispelling the "Should Sharks"

After yesterday’s warning about the dangers of swimming in Should Shark infested waters, learning how to clear the waters and avoid the danger is important. First, we need to confront the Should Shark by asking a simple question: “Is it true?”

For example, the thought assails you, “This shouldn’t be happening to me!” And you ask, “Is that true?” No. The truth, the verity, of the situation is that it is happening. That is what is. That is the truth. Thinking it shouldn’t happen will not change anything. All Should Sharks do is inflict pain—unnecessary pain.

Once you accept the fact that what happened happened the Should Shark vanishes, and you are free to then ask, “So how do I deal with what is happening in a healthy way?”

Once the Should Shark is gone, the unnecessary pain leaves, the unproductive negative mental chatter stops, and you are able to access and respond to the Spirit that directs and helps you navigate a happy life.

Questioning the truth of a Should Shark is like using a harpoon on a real shark. It saves us from a lot of pain.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Watch Out For "Should Sharks"

Yes, watch out for the "Should Sharks"!

One of the adversaries greatest tricks that pushes us into the Pit of Illusion is to send "shoulds" to prey upon us like circling sharks whenever we experience adversity.  These "Should Sharks" don't bite physically, instead they stab the idea into your head that, “This shouldn’t be happening to you. You keep the commandments and are doing everything you should be doing. You shouldn’t be experiencing this!” This thought is often followed by a thought about the guy down the street who shouldn't be so blessed because he water skis on Sundays and doesn’t pay tithing so he can afford a boat.

But I’ve searched the scriptures, and no place can I find anything that promises that if you keep the commandments you will have no problems--no trials, no adversity. Instead I found a wonderful parable of a man who built his house without a solid foundation and when the flood came the house was washed away. Jesus compared this compared this to a man who built his house upon a solid foundation of rock and when theflood came his house stood firm.(see Luke 6:48-49.)

Notice that the devastating flood deluges both homes, but the home built upon a solid foundation of obedience and gospel principles withstands the storm while the home on the sandy foundation of pride and selfishness crumbles when the waters roar by.

Life with all its ups and downs happens. After all, ups and downs are what mortal life is all about. Gospel living isn’t a preventative measure that keeps life from happening; gospel living is insurance that we will endure despite the floods and down times.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Give Goodness

It’s a proven fact that when we make other people happy, we make ourselves happier.

When we hear that statement the tempter usually counters with thoughts of having to take a lot of time to do kind deeds or wrap up and give presents or write letters or notes or other "burdensome" things. (Burdensome is the way the tempter presents it!)

But you don’t need to go out of your way or do special things to make other people happy. There are many ways in normal every day interaction that we can spread goodness.

One thing we can do is to concentrate on how we react to the people we encounter every day and then make sure we share happiness and cheer. Do we smile at people? Do we share encouraging news and keep the bad to ourselves? Do we compliment people we are talking to? Are we sincerely interested in our associates and their families? Do we really listen to them? Do we respond to what they say in ways that indicated we really are interested?

Sharing goodness and happiness doesn’t have to be a burdensome, time consuming task. We can share goodness any time we want and in many different ways..

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Times!

Enough about negative emotions! Today I want to look at positive emotions. Too often we don’t stop to analyze positive emotions. We feel good. We feel happy. So that’s all that matters. We are content. But when we are feeling positive emotion, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about positive feelings if we just take the time to notice a few things.
For example, next time you are feeling really good about something stop and ask yourself why. Solidify in your mind exactly what it was that made you feel good. The something doesn’t need to be big. Sometimes our happiest moments are caused by little things such as watching one of our children lovingly help a sibling. Take note of the fact that the happiness occurred because you were satisfied with what happened. Satisfaction is key to all happiness and so learning to be satisfied will bring more happiness.
Also notice that your thoughts were so occupied by what occurred that you totally pushed aside any bad thoughts such as worry about bills or stress over a task that needed to be done. In other words, part of the happiness was caused not just because of the good thing that happened but because you didn’t think about other things in that moment—you focused on the good. That is an important discovery because too often we think happiness is something that occasionally falls upon us without realizing that we have a big part to play in making it happen and making it last.
By stopping to analyze what is happening when we feel happy we solidify and deepen the feelings and it helps us look for and enjoy more of these kind of happy moments. Thus being aware of what we are doing and thinking in happy times increases our chances of having more of those good times!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Truth Tools To The Rescue

Thanks to all of you who gave me movie suggestions! (See yesterday's post!) I appreciate it, and welcome more ideas. I'd like to make a long list so if you haven't given me your input, do! Once the list becomes more complete I'll share it with all of you.

The Good News! today is that negative emotions don't have to destroy our happiness.

As we've talked about before, the descent into the Pit of Illusion happens when negative emotions assail us and we give in to them. Once in a while these negative emotions serve to warn us that we should do something constructive to correct a problem, but for the most part negative emotions are destructive and not constructive.

When we are feeling sad it is usually because of a loss, but as the emotion begins to overwhelm us, the loss always seems much bigger than it really is. When we feel anger it is usually because we think someone has tresspassed against us, and when we feel fear, it is usually because we feel we are in physical or emotional danger. Again when first feeling these negative emotions the tresspass and/or danger seem greater than they really are.

That's why the Truth Tools are so valuable; they stop us from falling into the Pit and give us time to recognize that we are exaggerating the problem. When we Live in Truth we see things more clearly.

So at the first sign of a negative emotion, instead of dwelling on the feeling, pull outyour Truth Tool Box and put the Tools to work. Stay in the realm of peace and joy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Help Me Find Positive Movies

I need your help!

I am compiling a list of movies that portray the principles of Living in Truth. What I'm looking for are movies that exemplify people Living in Truth, people recognizing and changing so that they Live in Truth, people living life in the present, or people demonstrating positive attitudes that make them happy despite their situations or their environment.

A few of the movies that have started my list are:
What About Bob?
Groundhog Day
The Devil Wears Prada
Field of Dreams
Chariots of Fire
Life is Beautiful
It's A Wonderful Life
The Karate Kid
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Sound of Music
The Big Year

Now, it's your turn. Tell me what movies you've seen that portray any of the principles of Living in Truth.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Job, A Career, or A Calling?

When a person Lives in Truth, which means he or she is living in the present moment, amazing things happen. One of those things is that we feel a peaceful sense of who we are and what we are to do. It is as if we are being called to a higher calling, but there is no stress or worry associated with the feeling, simply a peace in knowing what we are about.

To understand this better let's look at the distinction sociologists make between a job, a career, and a calling. A job is something you do for money or for some other reason you feel like you have to do it. You'd rather be doing something else, but to eat or fulfill others expectations you do it. A career you do because you are seeking advancement. You are after the promotions that will make you feel better than the people around you--being "above" or "over" everyone else is what motivates you. A
calling, on the other hand, is performed because something deep inside you says this is the thing to do. You want to contribute to help others to make things better.

With a job, if there is no reward involved the person won't do the job. With a career, if there is no chance to be elevated over others the person begins to look elsewhere or goes numb. With a calling when obstacles arise the person's determination intensifies and they try even harder.

When we Live in Truth we know our calling and respond to it because we are in touch with our highest self and despite adversity, trials, temptations or what other obstacles life offers us we understand the Good News! that there is something more than money or prestige or power and that knowledge gives us peace to do and be what we are called to do and be.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Losada Ratio

The psychologist, Marcel Losada, has identified what has become known as the Losada ratio—a ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts. Building on this concept, other positive psychologists have determined that when positive thoughts are more frequent than negative thoughts people are happier and relationships are stronger.

Dr. John Gottman has determined through years of research that happy marriages have a Losada ratio of 5:1 meaning there are 5 positive exchanges for every one negative.

Living in Truth is all about overcoming the negative feelings of life and facilitating the positive. For those of us who have spent years mired in negative thinking, making the change is difficult, but so worth it. And like all other worthwhile things we find that this principle is taught in the scriptures. Paul tells us that “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). In other words, find the positive and enjoy whatever life brings you. And to the Hebrews he explains how this is possible, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). We can be positive because of Jesus Christ. He is always with us and will never forsake us.

While there are moments in life that need to be recognized as negative and corrected, if our Losada ration is any place from 2.9:1 or higher, we will find contentment and joy in life. So for every negative thought, think (sincerely feel!) three positive thoughts and watch what happens to your day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I hate to admit this, but one of the things that sends me into the Pit of Illusion is annoying things people do. For example, when people chew ice it sends shivers up my back and into my scalp like what happens when fingernails scratch a chalkboard. Or the other day when I was was in a movie and the person next to me kept opening wrapped pieces of candy and the crinkle sound distracted and annoyed me. Or when someone is giving me directions and they put their hand on my back and push me in the direction they want to go, even though it is a gentle nudge I get defensive! There, I've admitted it: these quirky annoyances send me into the Pit of Illusion.

I've realized for a long time that I shouldn't let little things like this bother me, but I've never been able to find a Truth Tool that stopped the negative feelings fast enough. Instead I'd find myself in the Pit and then use a Tool to get out, but I wanted to stay out instead of climb out.

Well recently I discovered a new application of one of the Truth Tools that works FAST to keep me from falling! As soon as I feel the annoyance beginning to spew its poison inside me, I simply say (aloud if possible and if not silently to myself), "Thank you." As you recognize, it is the Gratitude Tool, but usually the Gratitude Tool is all about counting my blessings, and it at first seemed odd to say thank-you when annoyed, but just saying the words dispels the negative feelings magically. Often, without even trying, the natural next thing to happen is I discover why I should be thankful for whatever has happened and I find myself thinking something like, "Thank you for teaching me patience," or "Thank you for helping me learn to love" or "Thank you for helping me recognize and overcome my quirks."

It's a little thing, but it works! For years I've heard people call the phrase thank you "magic words," but now I know why. When I feel annoyed thank you is the abra-ca-dabra formula that keeps me Living in Truth

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Coming -- BYU Education Week

It's that time again--BYU Campus Education Week is coming--August 13th to 17th. This year I'll be presenting the same three classes I did last year with a few new twists.

On Monday I'll be teaching "Faith, Then, Works by Words" at 11:10 until 1:25. This class is based on The Lectures on Faith.

Tuesday through Friday I'll be teaching "Come What May, and Love It" -- But How? at 1:50 in the Madsen Recital Hall of the HFAC. This class is all about Living in Truth and I am excited about doing it again. I've learned some new things that I'm incorporating and I'm excited to share them.

Tuesday through Friday I'll also be teaching The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis  at 3:10 also in the Madsen. Here again I've made some changes and the last day I'll be teaching a whole new lecture, Christian Theology in the Narnia Tales.

If you are coming to Education Week be sure and come say hello!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Medical Emergency

We had an eventful night last night flying home. Our plane was a little late getting out of Atlanta and we weren’t in the air too long when a flight attendant asked over the PA if there was a doctor, nurse or paramedic on board to please come to seat 39A. A few people got up and went back, but most people remained very orderly and in their seats as had been instructed. A few minutes later the flight attendant ran up the aisle calling watch your arms and shoulders. She went into the cockpit and after a few more minutes it was announced that we would be landing in Oklahoma City for a medical emergency.

Immediately the plane was prepared for landing and we took a detour into Oklahoma. Once we landed paramedics entered the plane and took the man off the plane. Then we sat for about an hour and a half while the crew filled out paper work, they refueled the plane, and went through all the red-tape to take off again. We were supposed to arrive in Salt Lake City at 9:10, but we arrived at 11:47.

We were lucky because Salt Lake was our destination, but most people were catching other flights in Salt Lake which, of course, they missed. The thing that impressed me most is how considerate and cooperative everyone was. I didn’t hear any negative comments or complaining. There were hundreds of people on the plane so I may have missed it, but I was paying attention to see what would happen and everywhere I looked people were making the best of an unfortunate situation.

It could have been such an ugly experience, but by taking what came and dealing with it in the best possible way people eliminated unnecessary pain from their own lives and saved others from having to deal with the pain their actions could have inflicted.

Since I didn’t get into bed until well after two, which would have been four according to Eastern time which is what I awoke to that day, I am tired, but I am happy and at peace and praying for the poor man who was suffering.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Life Comes To Us

Amazing things happen when you are Living in Truth. Life comes to you and you perceive and intuit things that normally wouldn't because you are so busy fretting and stewing and stressing and worrying, etc. But when we drop all that negative stuff and are open to whatever comes we discover amazing and delightful things.

For example, this trip I met some wonderful new friends, I saw some beautiful scenery, danced with my grandsons, and discovered that one of my ancestors fought in the battle of Camden during the Revolutionary War. So here I am in Camden where he fought and married one of his commander's daughters. (My vivid imagination is having a great time weaving the story of that one!) He took his wife back to Tennessee and from there one of their daughters joined the LDS Church and eventually moved West.

Thursday and today I am going to be on the very land that the battle was fought on and all week I've been in Camden. Who knows what forests the two lovers strolled through or what lanes they traveled down as they courted or even which of these old homes they were perhaps married in?

In this case, I'm really enjoying my now by thinking about their then!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Transition Time for Me

Today the first of my grandchildren gets married. It is a very strange feeling. I am so excited for them and happy that they will be married in the temple, but this is making me feel oh so old! After today I will have married grandchildren!

BUT . . . I live in truth which means I take what life offers me and love it. So I'm going to embrace this new adventure with my whole soul. I'm still young at heart and I am blessed (miraculously!) with excellent health, so I'm going to enjoy every minute of this new stage of life.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Antebellum Day

Yesterday I went back to the 1800s. Sucht an amazing journey! I walked up the stairs and entered the door to the Holly Hedge plantation--a mansion privately owned and maintained in its pristine historic context. Like magic I could feel the presence of ages past. I heard the rustle of hoop skirts brushing against the banister as woman descended to be part of the reception in the large hall below. I heard the clanking of silver dishes full of delicious delicacies being passed among the merry crowd by formally attired servants. I heard the laughter and since all of  this was taking place in my imagination, I never heard the tears or the sorrow that are also retained on the property from being a major battlefield in the Revolutionay War and a part of the Civil War.

Outside the gardens were manicured to perfection with arches cut into hedges, a pine forest standing guard to keep intruders from disturbing the tranquil lake, and several magnificent magnolia trees, one of which is certified to have been around since before the civil war, towering royally over the large mansion.

The owners of the home are both walking encyclopedias of historical information which made the private tour all the more interesting. In short, we spent the most enjoyable afternoon possible walking back through time enjoying good company, interesting stories, and a visual feast of beautiful artifacts. I even sat on a joggling board! (I'll try to get the pictures of that posted later.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eternal Family

I'm in South Carolina! We traveled all day yesterday arriving just in time to accompany our grandson's fiance to the temple for the first time. It was a wonderful evening--so full of joy and happiness and everything good. I am so grateful for eternal families! And I'm especially grateful for my family. They are wonderful.

Tonight my mother flies in--remember, the one who a few months ago broke nine ribs and her clavicle. She has healed well, and is coming for the wedding of my first grandchild to marry and her first great-grandchild to marry. It is a momentous occasion.

This afternoon D3 arrives with her family. Tomorrow D4 and D5 arrive. And then Saturday is the wedding. I wish more of the family could come, but with all the little grandchildren and duties the others have, it just isn't possible. But because we are bound for eternity the others will be here in spirit, and that adds to the joy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Antidote For A Bad Mood

For years people outside the Church scoffed at the Word of Wisdom, and then suddenly science began to prove that all sorts of life threatening health problems were directly related to things that the Word of Wisdom prohibited.

The same thing is now happening with other aspects of the gospel. For example, recent research has shown that performing a kind act (service) produces the most reliable increase in immediate well-being of any exercise that has ever been tested.

In his new book Flourish, the noted positive psychologist, Martin E. P. Seligman, tells of a time after an increase in the price of postage stamps when he spent forty-five minutes frustratingly waiting in a long line to buy one-cent stamps. When he finally arrived at the sales counter instead of buying only what he needed, he bought ten dollars’ worth of one-cent stamps and turned around and gave them to the people waiting in line. “It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life,” he explains.
He then makes a challenge that I pass on to you: Find one wholly unexpected kindness to do today and just do it. (Be sure to take note of what it does to your mood!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sabbath Scripture

Be ye kind one to another,
forgiving one another, 
even as God for Christ's sake 
hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are You The Landlord Or A Tenant?

In his book Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis gives some good advice on what our attitude toward ourselves should be. He poses the question: “Does it not make a great difference whether I am, so to speak, the landlord of my own mind and body, or only a tenant, responsible to the real landlord? If somebody else made me, for his own purposes, then I shall have a lot of duties which I should not have if I simply belonged to myself.”

This perception makes a lot of difference in life. If I think of myself as the landlord I make decisions differently and thus live differently—more selfishly. But if I understand that I am only a tenant in this body and that I belong to Jesus Christ, I make decisions based on what He would have me do. I consult with Him before doing things. I make sure I have His approval. I live selflessly with the intention of making a profit for the Landlord.

I think this is one of the things we are admonished to do when we are told to remember Christ. Remembering Him means, in part, remembering our relationship to Him. He is our Landlord and, therefore, we are obligated to care for His property in a way that will preserve that property and give Him interest on His investment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rejoicing With Others--The Glue in Relationships

All of us know the importance of reaching out to support and encourage others when they are going through adversity or hard times. But there is a growing body of new psychological research that shows that  supporting others in good times impacts the quality of a relationship much more than when we support them in bad times.

However, how we respond to other people's good news makes a big difference. A psychologist at the University of California, Shelly Gable, found that people respond to good news in four ways. (1) They ignore the news. (2) They give a luke warm response such as, "That's nice." (3) They give a negative response such as "That surprises me. I didn't think you were qualified for the job." and (4) They respond positively and enthusiastically and ask follow-up questions and comments such as, "It's about time someone realized how vital you are to the organization."

Responding in the first three ways actually damages a relationship. Responding in the fourth way with enthusiasm and positive comments and questions bonds a relationship even more than helping people when in need.

As Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." So today find someone to rejoice with, and watch as your relationship with that person grows stronger and more satisfying. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Accept Yourself

Accepting who you are and what you are can be difficult, but it is a whole lot easier than trying to run away from yourself. Running is painful, and that pain is most assuredly unnecessary pain.  

Taking honest stock of who we are gives us the opportunity to decide what things can and should be changed about ourselves, what things we must learn to love, and rejoice in the things we already are grateful for.

For example, if taking honest stock reveals that we are gossipy, that can and should be changed. So we determine a plan of action and grow. If taking honest stock reveals we don’t like how tall we are, we let go of the “don’t like” and concentrate on all the advantages of our height. We learn to love what is. And in taking stock we especially note the good things about ourselves, the talents, abilities, beauties, and whatever else is good and right out loud so the world can hear we rejoice in those. 

Rejoicing is one way of thanking God. Denying we have any good is abusing God, and no one wants to be guilty of that!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Two-Edged Sword

I've waited all semester to get to the book of Revelation in the New Testament. I love John's revelation and wish I had more class time to discuss it with my students. Today we talked about symbolism and how John uses symbolism and then we "deciphered" some of the symbols.

One of the verses we talked about is Revelation 1:16 which is part of John's description of Jesus Christ. He ways of Christ: "And in his right hand [he held] seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." We talked about how the symbols of the two-edged sword is found in many places in scripture including Doctrine and Covenants 33:1 and Hebrews 4:12 and that when we see all the verses it becomes evident that the two edge sword is a symbol for the word of God.

But why a two edged sword? A two edged sword can inflict damage from both sides of the blade and thus is more powerful, but it also means that if you are striking at an enemy one side of the sword is poised to destroy the enemy but the other side is poised to destroy you. In other words, a two-edged sword offers a good or a bad consequence depending upon how the sword is used.

Thus the word of God is a sharp and powerful thing which if used properly will bring us great joy and will protect us from enemies; but if fought against or not used, it will separate us from God and from the Spirit which gives vitality and life to our being.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The "S" Diet

I've had some very busy days lately, 
but I just wanted to pass along a wonderful diet
 I heard about this weekend.
 It is called the "S" diet. 

Here's what it consists of:
 You can't eat Sugar, 
 have Seconds, 
 or eat Snacks 
EXCEPT on Saturdays, Sundays, or Special occasions.

And you must work up a good Sweat daily.

That sounds healthy and doable, 
but especially it is Simple.
I love it!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sabbath Scripture

But unto every one of us
is given grace
according to the measure
of the gift of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7

[Grace = enabling power]

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Open the Door

Last week a friend shared with me an experience that I learned a lot from and so I thought I'd share it with you. About twenty years ago my friend was going through a trying experience with a child and eventually the child married outside the temple. I won’t go into all the details, but my friend was very hurt and experienced all the feelings we go through in situations like this—feelings of self-doubt and failure and worry for the child. She became depressed over the things that were happening and felt very alone and abandoned by those around her, she prayed that someone would reach out to her, someone who she could confide in and someone who would help her though the ordeal, but instead of comforting her people seemed to avoid her. She described it as one of the worst times of her life. But it turned out well. Eventually she pulled out of the depression, and the couple was sealed in the temple. They now have seven beautiful children and are doing well.

Now for the learning part. Last week my friend went to lunch with a woman who was a close friend of hers before and during those trying years. During the lunch the woman brought up that long ago wedding and explained that while she was well over it now, but she had been very hurt that she had not been invited to the wedding, especially when she found out that someone who wasn’t as close of a friend had been invited. She then said that she was also hurt that my friend had pulled away from her during that time.

My friend said she was so shocked she couldn’t respond. First of all the person invited was not invited because she was a friend but because she was the child's employer. She was the only non-family member invited to the wedding. She also remembered the prayers, the nights she cried herself to sleep, how she had yearned for someone she could talk to, someone who would assure her and comfort her through the experience. And here was a person who could have done that, but instead she had taken offense because she wasn’t invited to the wedding.

“As she explained her feelings,” my friend said, “I realized I must have appeared to pull away from her and others. Part of the reason I didn’t get the comfort I needed was my own fault. At the time, I felt ashamed and afraid to reach out for fear of others’ reactions. But the thing that stunned me most as she explained all of this is that she never once reached out to me. Since that conversation with her, I’ve looked back on my own life and wondered how many times when someone needed me I turned away because of some petty offence or because I felt them pulling away. I wish I’d learned this sooner, but I now realize that often when people appear to close the door to us is the very time we need to knock and let ourselves in.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Monkey Trap

We've all heard how easy it is to catch a monkey. You simply put something the monkey wants inside a container that has an opening just big enough for the monkey to put an empty hand inside. The monkey puts its hand in, grabs the object, and with the object in hand can no longer get his hand out of the jar. The simple solution would be to let go, but the stubborn, greedy monkey refuses to let go and is taken into bondage.

It isn't difficult to see the comparison here to monkey's and people who cling to unnecessary pain. When we cling to past offenses, or hold grudges, or refuse to forgive ourselves or others or any other of the things that fall into the category of unnecessary pain we are acting just like monkeys. We are stubbornly putting ourselves into bondage to the pain and suffering that ensue.

But all we need to do to be free of the pain is let go. It is so simple! Just let go of the grievance and the pain disappears.