Thursday, February 28, 2013

Truth Tools

Brigham Young once gave this advice, “When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed” (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, p.70).

President Young is talking here about sin, but the beginning of all sin is negative thoughts. So if we can stop the negative thoughts and change them to positive thoughts, our actions will always be positive. The key is to find the strategies that work for us and then learn to use them. And that is what the Truth Tools are all about. They are Tools to use to stop the tempting thoughts, the vexing thoughts, the angry thoughts, the lustful thoughts, any negative thoughts that may pop into our heads, and allow the Spirit to guide us to what we should do.

I like to compare the Truth Tools to the stick shift of the car I learned to drive in. When in reverse I always needed to go into neutral before I could go forward. Negative emotions are like that. It is very difficult to go from anger to love, but if instead I just concentrate using the Truth Tools to get me from anger to neutral, the Spirit then helps me get to love.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Truth Tool--Anchoring

My very favorite Truth Tool is Anchoring. The way Anchoring works is that whenever you feel any vexation—any negative feelings building inside you—you stop and Anchor yourself to the present moment. You concentrate on NOW. To do this you refuse to think about anything except what is present before you. Concentrate on the colors and shapes, the sounds, the feel of the textures your hands and body are touching, the subtle odors in the air. In other words you engage all of your senses on what is there for them right NOW.

Don’t let any thoughts about the things you should have said to your friend yesterday or the bills that are coming due tomorrow or anything from the past or about the future enter your mind. Just enjoy this very minute and what the Lord is giving you right now. This may sound similar to forms of meditation that are taught in Eastern religious practices, but it is different. In meditation you push ALL thought away and try to make the mind go blank. But in Anchoring you let the senses connect you to the current moment. As you connect to the present you find that there are other things available in the present besides what you can see, feel, hear, taste, and smell.

As the Lord has told us in D&C 59:18-19, “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.” What this means is that the things around us are given to us not just for physical sustenance but to “gladden the heart” and “to enliven the soul.” The problem is that we get our minds so full of what needs to be done or what has happened to us in the past that we don’t pay attention to what is right before us. We are living in the past or future and ignoring the present. By Anchoring in the current moment you open yourself up to experience the joy, love, hope, and peace that are always available in the present moment. As President Thomas S. Monson has instructed, "Learn from the past, prepare for the future, live in the present" (Ensign, May 2003, 22).

 Try Anchoring while doing menial tasks such as washing dishes or pulling weeds. Concentrate on how your hands move, the feel of the water or soil on your hands, the smell of the soap or soil, the sound of the dripping water or dropping soil, etc. and then pay attention to what comes to you as you Anchor. Anchoring does away with vexation and opens the windows of heaven for us to peer through. I love life when I'm anchored.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Smile Away Pain

There's more to this Humor Truth Tool than meets the eye.

Many years ago I read in a science magazine about how psychologist had discovered that feelings cause chemical changes in the body. But more than that, they discovered that mimicking the facial features that accompany the feeling will also cause the chemical changes. So they suggested that a person smile even if he or she didn't have a reason to smile and the chemicals would kick in to create happiness.
This picture should give you a good laugh for the day!
This morning this was in our local paper, The Deseret News, "Researchers are finding that wearing a smile brings certain benefits, like slowing down the heart and reducing stress. This may even happen when people aren't aware they are forming a smile, according to a recent study. The work follows research that established that the act of smiling can make you feel happier."

So I’ve come up with a great idea. There are days when smiling is simply impossible. Everything is going wrong. Nothing is going right. You can’t make yourself smile. On those terrible, horrible, no good days, simply put a pencil in your mouth to hold the shape of a smile.

I guarantee that after awhile you’ll feel better. (If the chemical changes in your body aren’t doing the trick, hearing every one laugh at you certainly will!)

So keep smiling!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Truth Tool - Humor

Concerning life, many people have said something similar to this: "You can laugh or you can cry, but laughing is a lot more fun." I agree, and that is why humor is a powerful Truth Tool.

You've all also heard that laughter is medicine for the soul. There are many reasons for that. First of all,  many of us take ourselves far too seriously, but by learning to laugh at ourselves we open up whole new areas of healthy, pain free living. We can do this in many ways. One thing that works for me is to use my over-stimulated imagination and when I start to worry or have other negative feelings about myself I exaggerate the things I’m worrying about to the extreme until suddenly I’m laughing at the preposterousness of what I’m thinking.

I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but years ago whenever my husband came home late, I’d find myself thinking, “Oh no! He’s been in an accident!” And I’d have the funeral planned, and sometimes even got to the point I was in tears as I pondered how I was going to support the children all by myself. But I’ve learned that when I start thinking “accident” to change to a funny story like Mr. J decided to stop and hike to the top the mountain and then I imagine him in his shirt and tie, trying to hike. I let my imagination go all out. He’s taking along his briefcase and laptop and fighting the brush back with it held in front of him like a shield. His face is full of determination and when he gets to the top of the mountain, he rips open his shirt to reveal a big “S” for Superman. Besides keeping me feeling good, when I do this my husband arrives home to a cheerful wife instead of a morose one.

Someone told me that you’re going to laugh about most of the situations of life when you look back on them, so why not laugh now. Learning to see the humor in the situations, even the mistakes we make, instead of beating ourselves up over things, is a powerful Truth Tool.

And if you are careful and avoid sarcasm, Humor can be used to change tense situations. I’ve told this story before but it is worth repeating. One day Mr. J came home from work so grouchy that everyone avoided him. He went in his office and we all went into the kitchen to get dinner. As D3 was setting the table I noticed that she put a large cereal bowl of sugar at her dad’s place. I waited to see what was going on. Finally dinner was ready and we called Mr. J in to eat. As he approached his place and saw the bowl of sugar, he stopped and growled, “What’s this?”

D3 timidly spoke up, “We thought if you ate that you’d be a lot sweeter.” He started to laugh, all the stress left him, and he returned to his cheerful self.

Humor, can be biting and sarcastic and hurtful, but when used correctly it can be a powerful Tool to help us stay firmly grounded in the Realm of Truth.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

More Snow

It's snowing here in Utah--AGAIN! So we have two choice, get vexed and upset complaining that we are tired of winter and it should be over. Or we can find ways to make the cold fun. Cuddle up in front of a fire and read a good book. Or if you have to go out in it, use your imagination and figure out how the Eskimos would do it. Go make a snowman.

The Truth is, it is winter and it is snowing. So live with it, but don't just endure it, make it fun!

Friday, February 22, 2013

More on Music

As I said yesterday, music is a powerful preventative Truth Tool. While listening to good music, you are encouraged and uplifted and better able to fend off vexation. But when vexing moments happen it can also help us to listen to music to help keep us calm. I had a delightful experience with this a few years ago. I had been to lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time and on the way home was running an errand. Here’s how my journal records what happened next:

I parked beautifully. No car damage. No problems. Got out of the car. Locked the car. Shut the door. Noticed that the car keys were dangling from the ignition. (In that order!)

Taking three long slow breaths I asked myself, what now? I could swear (which I'm unaccustomed to doing.) I could scream. (Which I have done on occasion.) Or I could walk home and get the extra set of keys. I opted for the latter and having my new Ipod in my purse, I put on some encouraging, up beat music to dispel the mood—the Beach Boys—and began marching homeward. I hadn't gotten far into "Surfin' USA" when I realized that my house key was also locked in the car. No matter. That music is very cheerful and so I hoped Josh was home to let me in. Then just into the catchy, "Be True to Your School" I realized that during the hustle and bustle of getting all the girls to airports and switching cars after Dad's funeral, my second set of car keys had been lost. But how sad can you be when you're listening to "Shish boom bah! Rah, Rah, Rah" sung in full harmony by males who were in their prime 40 years ago?

Since we were going to the temple tonight, I was very concerned that my heart not be polluted with things like anger and self pity—so I turned the music up louder, marched faster, and made it home in record time trusting that some miracle would happen.

“I got home. Josh wasn't there, but someone had left the back door unlocked! Miracle number one—accompanied by "Fun, Fun, Fun Till Daddy took the T bird Away."

“I found a Honda key in a drawer. Prayed it was to my car. And walked out just as our neighbor was backing out of his driveway. (Miracle number 2 accompanied to "The Girls on the Beach.”) I begged a ride, and out of politeness took the ear phones out of my ears. He took me to my car, waited while I found out the key was to Carl's Honda not mine, and then drove me back home.

“As soon as he left, I put the earphones on again. "Let Him Run Wild" was playing. Still calm and collected and surfing mentally, I called the car dealership where I bought my car and asked if they had any suggestions about getting into it. Miracle number three was accompanied by "Don't Worry Baby." It seems that they offer free roadside assistance to their customers. They would have their Knight in Shining Tow Truck there in 15 minutes to open my door.

“That gave me just enough time to walk back to the car—accompanied by the rousing tempos of "Help Me, Rhonda" and "All Summer Long." When I arrived, I discovered the Knight was late and the door wasn't yet open so what could I do but go into the nearest clothing store and shop to the music of "I Get Around." It was their clearance sale and I found a sweater, a pair of pants and a shirt all for less than fifty dollars! By the time I'd made my purchase the car door was open. I drove home, my heart pure and clean of any negative emotion thanks to the gift of portable music my family had given me.

P.S. The temple session was wonderful.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Truth Tool - Music

Music is a powerful Truth Tool, but when I first bring it up as a Tool most people think only about listening to music. Granted, that does work. Listening to music soothes the soul and can change moods. But there are other ways to use the Truth Tool of music.

When our children were growing up we had a rule that might surprise you. Rule: You can fight and quarrel all you want as log as you sing it.

It was amazing for more than one reason. First of all when they began to quarrel I didn't need to enter the fracas by being referee. Instead all I'd do  is say, "Sing it girls." Second, it only takes a moment to discover that when a person sings their angry thoughts they end up laughing. It works every time. You can't stay angry and sing.

But there are other ways this Tool works. Let's say you go out in the morning to leave for work, you are running late and in a hurry, but your car won't start. You have a dead battery. The vexing feelings begin to rise in you and at that point instead of swearing, you sing your negative thoughts. And, yes, you begin to laugh. Once you are calmed down and laughing your mind clears and you begin to solve the problem without the vexing, negative emotions causing you Unnecessary Pain.

I'll talk tomorrow about the listening part of this Truth Tool, but for now, sing your way through your day and watch what happens.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Lesson From Swedish Fish

Yesterday my daughter, Mariah, made me the best birthday dinner. She went to a lot of trouble and made all my favorite things. Kirsha and Meleah helped in the preparation and everyone (within driving distance!) gathered at Mariah's house. There were twenty four of us and we had a wonderful evening together.

I knew we would be gathering and so I saved everyone's Valentine's for the party and after dinner I gave them out. My four-year-old grandson, George, got one of the boxes of Swedish Fish and was very excited, but a few minutes later he was having a terrible tantrum. I went in to see what was the matter and his mother was just getting him calmed down enough to tell her. Between great sobs we finally heard, "Adults aren't supposed to eat the fish." Sitting on the couch was the culprit, his father who had innocently eaten ONE of the Swedish Fish.

I couldn't help but chuckle, but I wasn't laughing at George or his father or Swedish Fish. Instead I was thinking about all the times I've brought that kind of tantrum-inspired pain upon myself because I didn't think what happened should have happened.

When watching a child have a tantrum it is so easy to identify how absurd it all is. But we as adults do the same thing. We have our own tantrums and cause ourselves so much pain for the most inconsequential things even though we are old enough to know better. I'm going to store this memory up and remind myself often that most of the things I get upset about don't really matter at all! But most important, I'm going to remember what George taught me;
"Adults aren't supposed to eat the fish (make that Should Sharks!)."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Truth Tool - Rewriting

The Truth Tool Rewriting grows out of and works with the Truth Tool Questioning. Yesterday we used the example of a woman "snubbing" you. Whenever things like that happen we begin to tell ourselves stories to give meaning to the encounter.

When we realize that this is what we are doing, we also realize that since we are the author of the story we have complete power to change the story. We can make it into anything we want, so why not make it positive?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Truth Tools - Questioning

One of the funnest of the Truth Tools for me is Questioning. The reason I say it is fun is because I end up laughing every time I use it.

This Tool is easy to use. When the Should Sharks start to swarm around you and the vexing thoughts begin to bite you simply ask, "Is that true?"

For example, you see an old friend and are excited to greet her, but as you do she barely acknowledges you. You feel hurt and the Should Sharks begin to bite with vexing thoughts such as, "She thinks she's so much better than me since they moved into that fancy new home." or "She shouldn't be so arrogant. She should be more friendly." As the thought enter your mind you apply the Tool Questioning and ask, "Is that true?"

The obvious answer is "No!" You have no way of knowing why she "snubbed" you or even if she actually did. Maybe she's starting to suffer from Alzheimer's and didn't recognize you. Maybe she just got some terrible bad news and is preoccupied. Maybe her husband just left her and she's embarrassed and doesn't want to talk to anyone. There could be a thousand reasons why she didn't react to you the way you thought she should and most of them are very good reasons that have nothing to do with you or her humility or lack of.

The reason I laugh? Because once I've asked the question, "Is it true?" The answer makes me realize how absolutely absurd I have been and I find myself chuckling at myself.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


While I've been sick I've had a lot of time to think. There wasn't much else I could do. And one of the things my mind kept returning to is the idea of Should Sharks. At first I could feel them swimming about in my head waiting to bite, but happily I kept them at bay. Something I haven't been able to always do in the past and to see my own progress made me happy. It takes time to learn to use the Truth Tools and to make them work for us, so I'm celebrating the victory.

But there was something more. One of the most insidious things Should Sharks inflict upon us is when our desires are righteous. In those times the Should Sharks often bite and bite hard. But as I lay in my bed thinking about all the prophets and about Jesus Christ I was amazed at how everyone of them could have been completely eaten alive by Should Sharks, but one of the marks of a prophet and the Savior is they never let Should Sharks bite even when the most righteous intentions go wrong.

Those who never marry, those who wish with all their hearts for children but can't conceive, those trying valiantly to raise righteous children who won't listen, those doing all in their power to preserve a faltering marriage will experience swarms of Should Sharks. After all, we should be able to marry, to have children, to raise righteous children, to make our marriages work, shouldn't we? BUT, and this is a very big BUT, we live in a telestial world and there are no guarantees in a telestial world.

For some reason suffering is necessary in a telestial world and the lives of prophets and the Savior testify to that. Joseph and Emma shouldn't have lost five of their children. Friends shouldn't have betrayed Joseph. Joseph shouldn't have been killed by mobs, and we could go on and on about the Should Sharks in Joseph's life and every single other prophet.More than that, Jesus Christ shouldn't have been betrayed by one of His disciples. His friends shouldn't have fallen asleep when he asked them to wait for Him in the garden. And especially, Jesus Christ shouldn't have had to suffer for my sins.

The big danger with these kinds of Should Sharks is that along with the vexing thought that what is happening shouldn't be happening, we usually begin to feel unworthy, unloved, and forgotten by God. But the simple fact that we have been called upon to suffer for very righteous reasons has absolutely no bearing upon how much God loves us. God loves the childless, the unmarried, the struggling parent, the hurting spouse and that love should never be doubted. The fact that we suffer is not an indication of God's love. Instead we should remember that we are loved and that our suffering puts us in the same category as all the saints, prophets, and although not nearly to the same degree, it makes us more like Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Time To Rejoice

Isn't today a beautiful day?!! There are some definite benefits that come form being as sick as I've been and one of them is that the whole world now looks so marvelous.

I managed to teach my classes yesterday, but I have never been so weak in my life. I know a few miracles took place in my behalf and somehow I made it through the day. And now today is a little better. As a matter of fact, every day gets a little better and part of that "better" is how very much I now appreciate the ability to breathe, the fact that my body can heal, the wonderful friends and family who ministered to me in my need, and sunshine! Even the white snowy world outside seems to me like the most beautiful thing I've ever seen! My heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude, and I find myself rejoicing in the smallest things!

I just hope that as life resumes its hectic pace I don't forget this joy at being alive.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Birthday

I don't know if any of you have missed me, but I sure have missed you. For the past two weeks I have been in bed with the flu and a secondary infection, bronchitis, and some other complications. I've never been so sick in my life. Right now I am feeling grateful to be able to sit up!

My birthday came and went while I've been sick. I spent the day in and out of doctors' offices, getting x-rays, testing and etc. Every where I went the first question was, "When's your birthday?" and when I'd answer. "Today!" They'd all break out laughing, "You're kidding!"

I feel grateful I could give everyone a good laugh for my birthday.