Tuesday, October 30, 2012


It is difficult to relate to the stories of storms in the east when here the sun is shining in a clear blue  sky that holds only a hint of autumn and no trace of winter. I wish everyone was experiencing what I am, but they aren't and my heart breaks for the news I keep hearing. It would be so easy to let that kind of news get us down and sink us into the Pit of Illusion. Situations like this often do. They cause some people to wonder, "If there is a God, why does He let things like this happen?"

It is a good question, but it has a good answer. God has the power to heal and recompense and restore. So even though we are in a telestial world and must pass through the adversity and necessary pain of a mortal world, He knows he can make it up to us. He knows He can make it all better. He knows everything will eventually be all right. He knows.

But for Him to make it all right, we must turn to Him and let Him take care of us. That is why He begs us to come to Him. He loves us and like any loving parent He wants us to be better. But we must go to Him or He can't make us better.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Real You

The nature of our personal existence in this telestial world is that there are two parts to each of us. The temporal part that is our body and the spiritual part which is our spirit. Part of the test of mortality is to determine which one of those "selves" we are going to consider our real self. The temporal part of us is influenced by the circumstances, ideas, and situations around us. The spiritual part of us is influenced by the Spirit and the teachings of the Savior communicated to us through scripture, prophets, and teachers.

Along the path of life each of us begins to define ourselves in certain ways. In doing this we think things like "I am a procrastinator," "I am a caring person," "I am a person who eats too much," "I am a perfect housekeeper,"  "I am a sickly," "I am sensitive," and many other things. But look at those things. Most of them have to do with the temporal self. But the temporal self is by nature temporary and therefore can't be the real self. The real self is the lasting, eternal, spiritual self and to define ourselves with anything but our spiritual self is a mistake.

In Buddhist teachings the temporal self is considered the constructed sense of self and it can undermine our happiness. It is self-destructive and gets in the way of us finding our highest potential.

So when we start to think, "I am . . ." stop and ask yourself is that true? Is that the real, lasting, spiritual me or is it the temporal, temporary me? That's the only way to discover who we really are.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Words

Our bodies are amazing. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells that work together to keep us alive and functioning. Each cell has its own tasks to perform, but at the same time all cells are dependent on other cells in order to function. Each cell "understands" exactly what to do and some, such as the white blood cells, actually sacrifice themselves for the good of the whole body.

But even more interesting is the fact that our cells communicate with each other through electrical messaging that is conducted by minerals and chemicals that act as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters flow through every cell in the body and transmit messages through out the body. This means that if you are thinking happy words and thoughts that happiness is communicated to every cell in your body. Happiness isn't only about your heart or your mind. Every cell is influenced by positive words and thoughts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Necessary Pain

When we are Living in Truth we jettison all Unnecessary Pain, but we can still expect to encounter Necessary Pain. Necessary Pain will always be part of a mortal world. But unlike Unnecessary Pain, when we encounter Necessary Pain and endure it well there are actually benefits and blessings that come to us. Research has shown that strong emotional events such as a death of a close friend or family member, a child who does something wrong, or even life events that also have a positive side to them such as sending a child away to serve a mission while painful can lead to deeper self-awareness and to spiritual and physical well-being if we endure them well.

None of us go through life without stress, loss, or sadness. Those are Necessary Pains in life. But if we turn to the Savior in prayer and scripture study, patiently wait to be healed, and accept what’s happened, we learn more about ourselves and about life.

We all know that when we’re experiencing Necessary Pain, it feels like it will never end. But the Savior uses time to help us heal so that we again begin to feel the happiness in life. When we experience this it becomes for us the greatest miracle the Savior has ever performed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Look for the Witness

I love a verse in the Pearl of Great Price that says, "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me" (Moses 6:63).

Years ago that phrase, "all things bear record of me" struck me and I began walking through my days asking of the things I encountered, "What does this teach me of Christ?"

It is often surprising what comes to me. I remember one day while working in my garden picking up a simple rock and thinking, "Wow! These weeds and trees and flowers are temporary. They come and they go, but this rock was around the day the new star appeared in the heavens announcing the birth of Jesus Christ. This rock was around whe the earth shook at His death. This rock has been on this earth for thousands of years--ever since Jesus Christ brought it into being in the beginning.

It was a special moment that I will never forget. Looking for testimonies in the things around us teach us much and surprisingly a small thing like this as beought a lot of love and joy into my life.

Friday, October 19, 2012


The Good News! of Jesus Christ teaches us that we should have charity.   "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. (Moroni 7:47). The advice is very good but since we call groups that are organized to help others "charitable" organizations we sometimes confuse the meaning of the word. We think charity means giving to the poor. But charity is a way of living.

If we look at the history of the word we find that its root is the word dearness. If people are dear to us, we do for them what is best for them. And that brings us back to the pure love of Christ. He does for us what is best for us. Sometimes that means chastizing or reprimanding, but most of the time it means blessing and healing and helping.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Take the Opportunity

Image from: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Scott Chan
When we Live in Truth we see life differently. For example instead of seeing situations around us as problems, we see them as opportunities.

The word opportunity itself teaches us a lot about this concept. Opportunity means, "a favorable juncture of  circumstances." That's a good definition, but there is something more to this word. You may have noticed that there is a "port" in the middle of the word. That is significant. Sail toward it!

Opportunity comes from the Latin word opportunus which consists of the prefix, op- meaning "toward" and portus meaning (You guessed it!) "port or harbor." If traveling by ship, a port is your entry into a city which means you are approaching your destination which means you are now going to be able to carry on the business you came to do, or to enjoy visits with friends and family, or to start a new life, or to refuel the ship, or to take on needed supplies, or even to invade and conquer. But to do what you had come to do, you have to first take advantage of the port and enter it. You have to more toward the port.

When we think of what we sometimes call problems as "ports of call" or stops along the itinerary of life used to refuel, restock supplies, and unload and/or exchange cargo, we are Living in Truth. These opportunities become exciting adventures that prepare us for the rest of the journey.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Celebrating Growth

Today was one of those celebration days. First thing this morning I discovered that I had posted the midterm exam instead of the study guide for my students. That means every student had the test! Many years ago that happened and it sent me so deep into the Pit of Illusion that it took weeks to climb out. Stress! Frustration! Vexation plagued me.

Writing an exam takes hours and usually those hours are spread over several days so you can review the questions and make sure the multiple choice detractors are close enough to the real answer that they aren't ridiculous and yet not so close that they could be construed as correct. It is a pains taking process--one of the few things I dislike about teaching and now I had only hours to write a new midterm if the testing center would even let me submit a new test this late.

Usually our tests have to be submitted days before the test, so when I found out what I had done I called the center and they very nicely acknowledged this as an emergency and said that if I could get a new test to them by the afternoon they would make sure it was ready for tomorrow. So I hurried to my office and spent four grueling hours writing a new exam.

The celebration? I managed to get through the entire morning and the four hours of writing without sinking into the Pit! Truth Tools work. Humor was a helpful Tool today and was especially beneficial when I finally turned in the exam and the woman at the testing center laughed when I explained what had happened and said, "That is so funny!" Instead of hitting her, I laughed with her!

So I am celebrating the growth that has come this last five years and the difference it has made in my life to Live in Truth. While I would rather have learned about that growth in another way, the Truth is I didn't and so I'm going to enjoy the fact that something very positive came out of my BIG mistake today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


We've talked a lot about the power and importance of words here on Good News! But I've never said much about the meaning of words. So I'm about the rectify that!

Words have meaning and if we want to convey the proper meaning with the words we use we need to know what meanings are inherent in the word. Also, studying the meanings of words, especially words we think we already know because we've used them forever, intensifies our understanding of life. Let me give you an example. You all know and use the word inspire. Your feeling for that word probably centers around the idea of motivation. But the word comes to us from the Latin word, inspirare,  which means to breathe in. Thus its literal definition is to breathe life into yourself or others. If you think about this and ponder it for a few minutes, I guarantee that next time you hear or use the word inspire you will feel something deeper and more meaningful.

Add to that the thought that as you ponder and learn to use words that inspire others, you breath life into their hopes and dreams and situations. So create something beautiful today by breathing hope or joy or love into someone you know. Inspire someone!

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Is Happy

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom."

I love that quote because I realize that for years my own unhappiness was caused because I was always waiting for something big to make me happy. Then, at the infrequent times when something big did happen, I found the happiness so fleeting that it never satisfied me enough.

Since I've been Living in Truth I've found myself going through my day and when certain things happen suddenly thinking, "That is happy!" I didn't decide I was going to look for happy things, instead it simply happened--I just found myself doing it. I decided it must be one of the benefits of Living in Truth. But I love this new part of my being.

I feel the warm water trickle over me in the shower and think, "That is happy!" I cuddle into a downy soft comforter to go to bed and think, "That is happy!" I let the bitter-sweet taste of dark chocolate melt in my mouth and think, "That is happy!" And right now thinking of you, my unseen friends, out there reading what I love to write about I'm thinking, "This is happy!"

Friday, October 12, 2012


The hills are alive with a blaze of color! Maybe it's just that my memory is fuzzy, but I don't think there has ever been such a variety and so much color on the mountains as there is this year. I love it!

We lived for a year in Texas and the thing I missed most was the changing of the seasons. While to some Autumn may seem dreary and dreadful because of the dying out of the vegetation, the days getting shorter and nights longer and colder to me it is a symbol of the highs and lows of life. Yes, we experience some discouraging, dismaying, down right no good experiences. But every fall is followed by a spring.

As the prophet Lehi put it, "There must needs be an opposition in all things." When we think of that we usually think about all good things having an opposite--something negative. But looked at another way it also means that all bad things have an opposite--something positive.

So instead of wallowing in the negative we can think about the positive that is about to follow. There is always a spring and summer after a fall and winter!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


It's all done with words!

In traditional Hindu teachings mantras are used to invoke and bring about spiritual transformation. A mantra according to Hinduism is “a mystical formula of invocation or incantation.” The Hindu word mantra means “sacred Counsel” and comes from the word manyate which means “he thinks.”  We, in the Western world, have adopted the word to mean “a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone's basic beliefs.” For example, I read the statement the other day, “This businessman’s mantra is, ‘Bigger is better’.”

Whether we recognize it or not we all have mantras or habitual ways of thinking that guide our actions. That’s why it is powerful to analyze our actions and determine if those habitual ways of thinking are bringing us closer to God or keeping us from Him. It is also powerful to put our healthy ways of thinking into sentences or mantras that we can repeat over and over to ourselves to solidify and help us remember what we really want to be and do.

As I’ve so often said here, words have power, especially the words we repeat and use to guide our lives.  By selecting and often repeating to yourself a simple mantra such as,
“I behave in any situation like a child of God”  
you help yourself stay on the straight and narrow path that will take you back to Him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feasting on the Word

The great prophet Nephi encouraged us to “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3). Obviously the first step to feasting is to read the words of scripture, but reading is more comparable to preparing the feast than it is to actually eating the feast. The word feast means, “an elaborate and usually abundant meal often accompanied by a ceremony or entertainment” or “something that gives unusual or abundant enjoyment.” 

To have an” abundant meal” you prepare many, many different dishes and then sit down and take time to enjoy eating them. This bringing together of many different foods is what gives the “abundant enjoyment.” When we put mashed potatoes on our plate alongside the broccoli and the cranberry jelly, we not only enjoy the tastes of each one, but we enjoy the aromas, the color contrasts, and the difference in texture.

Likewise when we read scripture we are preparing the mind by putting the foods on the table where they can be acknowledged and chosen from. When we feast upon the scriptures we “eat” by pondering and meditating on comparisons and contrasts in all that we have read. We savor the delicate nuances of meanings and benefit from the “nutrients” that are available. 

“Unusual and abundant enjoyment” can happen when we eat a simple peanut butter sandwich. But it is much more likely to happen at a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings filling the table.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Say "YES!"

The universal stance of triumph.

As I've been studying words and paying attention to how words affect me, I've noticed something very interesting about the simple word yes. If I'm discouraged or just feeling a little down in the mouth, if I say the word, "Yes!" with enthusiasm and conviction I feel immediate empowerment.

In addition, if I raise my arms up in a victory stance like you see runners do as they cross the finish line in first place, there is an added boost of power. I can't explain it, but I can feel it. It is immediate and it is real. It doesn't matter if I'm feeling or thinking anything wonderful or if I'm feeling or thinking negative things. Saying YES and raising my arms in a power stance makes the negative go away and enhances the positive.

I know it sounds too simple to be true, but it works. Try it right now and tell me how you feel.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Essence of Spirituality

I hope you enjoyed the LDS General Conference as much as I did. I especially enjoyed it because of the research I've been doing on words and the power of words. As the Lectures on Faith teach us, "Faith works by words." And hearing the words of prophets always increases my faith.

But there was something more this conference. I was making some connections that I've never made before. The Hindu holy book, the Vedas, is believed by its followers to be divinely revealed. Many of the writings in the Vedas obviously correspond to our Biblical teachings, but others have indirect correspondence and can enlighten our own understanding of what is meant.

One of these is the Vedic teaching that “Speech is the essence of humanity.” According to this all of what humanity thinks and becomes is determined by the words that are spoken. In other words, everything has its birth in words. You cannot do something until you have first thought it and formed it into words. When we connect this idea to the teachings of John in the New Testament it expands our understanding of what John means in his gospel when he writes, "In the beginning was The Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God..."

By the same token, our words determine who and what God is to us. He is born in us by the words we choose to think and speak. We can create Him in our own image by thinking of Him as someone who acts and reacts like we do, or we can let Him give us the words of love and peace that allow Him to unfold His divine nature within us. It is then that we are changed to be like Him.

Speech is not only the essence of humanity, it is the essence of spirituality.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Great Link

This week one of my colleagues,Ray Huntington, presented a wonderful devotional address to the university. It was entitled "A Grateful Heart" and it is worth watching. So go here and enjoy.It is well worth the time.

Ray begins by explaining some of the new research that shows the power of gratitude but then he moves into a short discussion of the power of positive words.

If you've liked our discussions about the power of words, you'll love this talk.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scatter Sunshine

This morning I passed a student going down the stairs, a young man I have never met or seen before, and he greeted me with, "Have a great morning!" The tone of his voice carried as much cheer as his words and I found myself walking away from that simple encounter feeling empowered enough that I could fly--I could do anything!

Too often we vastly underestimate the power we have to lift and encourage others. Simple words spoken with sincerity to complete strangers or friends and family can change their day--maybe even their lives.

Lines from the hymn "Scatter Sunshine" come to mind: "How much joy and comfort you can all bestow, If you scatter sunshine everywhere you go."

So make this a day of scattering and watch the world glow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A New Kind of Word Game

I believe life should be fun and that means even the difficult things like changing life-long habits. So as we work toward Living in Truth one of the things we can do to is to make efforts to change into a game.

One example that comes to mind is a game that can be used when we are changing our language from negative power sapping words to positive empowering words. What you do is enlist the help of someone who is around you a lot and ask them to listen to what you say. When they hear you use negative and low energy words they then call out, "Swap!" Your job is to immediately swap the negative word with a positive high energy word and repeat what you just said.

You can also do this yourself if no one is around to help you. As soon as you notice you've said something negative instead of beating yourself up over it or telling yourself how you never are able to do what you've committed to do, simply laugh and cry out, "Swap!" and then restate what you just said with the new positive word.

It works, and it is fun!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Little (Very LIttle!) Necessary Pain

What a strange week this has been. After falling down the stairs I was first told my foot was broken and then the next day told it wasn't, then yesterday I was told it is broken--a break on the tibia crown. I guess this confusion all means that it is such a small break it is difficult to detect. That is good.

The most important thing is that it isn't hurting much so that's all that matters. I don't like necessary pain and once again I'm being helped through it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Power Words

I keep finding the most interesting things about words and the power of words. For example, this morning while studying I found a study that shows that negative words produce a lower energy or heavier vibration level and positive words produce a higher energy or vibration level. This corresponds with how you feel when negative words or positive words are used. You feel lighter when using or hearing positive words and heavier when using negative words.

Usually we aren't aware of the energy produced by the words we hear and speak, but if we are looking and scrutinizing we can feel the difference. Our minds are like computers that sort our, process, and then respond to the codes that are inputted. Our minds unconsciously sort, process and then respond to the words we hear, think, and speak.

This means that every word is processed so that in fractions of a second meaning, associations, and memories connected with that word are sorted and then relevant ideas are brought to conscious thought. The mind is amazing! But what is important here are the ramifications of using low energy negative words versus high energy positive words.

Some of us have filled our vocabulary with negative ways of stating positive things. For example, someone requests something of you and you answer, "No problem" instead of "You're welcome" or "I'd be happy to do that." The word problem is a low energy, negative word, but welcome and happy are positive and high energy words.

So fill your day with happy words and watch what the good that happens!